Canon George Goodman

The Geelong Advertiser 26th June 1908

A Veteran Churchman

Canon George Goodman

The death occurred at his residence, “Edgbaston”, Ryrie-street, shortly before six o’clock yesterday morning of the Rev. Canon Goodman, M.A., late incumbent of Christ Church, Geelong, and one of the oldest members of the Anglican body of Australia. The deceased, who since his retirement from active service in August, 1906, had lived privately, had lately become feeble, and at the end of last week suffered from heart troubles of a rather serious nature. On Wednesday his condition appeared to improve, and he was able to sit about in his room. During the night, however, his condition became critical, and shortly before six o’clock he passed away very quietly. His death removed a most interesting personality from the church, and a citizen who for over 50 years played a quiet but nevertheless important part in the building up of Geelong. He was a man who, having entered the church, lived the life of a churchman, and was averse from coming much under the public eye in matters outside church work, but in many capacities, chiefly philanthropic, he was an untiring worker, and in the earlier years of his ministry in Geelong labored with conspicuous energy in those directions.

George Goodman was born at Peterborough, Northamptonshire, on May 17th, 1821, and at the age of nine years went with his father, a gentleman of means, to reside in Birmingham. It was originally intended that he should enter the wholesale hardware business, but after two years’ commercial experience he decided to join the church, and entered Christ’s College, Cambridge. There he prosecuted his studies with brilliant success, and in 1844 took the degree of Bachelor of Arts. In the succeeding year he obtained 121 mathematical honours, 37 of which were wranglers. Amongst his fellow-wranglers at the time were Prebendary Nicholson and Canon Jones, with whom the deceased gentleman maintained a life’s friendship, and the college companionship was not broken until each had attained the age of 80 years. In 1845 he was ordained deacon at Holy Trinity, Birkenhead, and in the following year was created priest at Chester Cathedral. In that year he was given the charge of St. Bride’s, Fleet-street, and amongst some noted events which occurred during his ministry were the Chartist agitation and the widespread outbreak of cholera. While in Liverpool he became acquainted with Bishop Barker, afterwards Bishop of Sydney, and who married Canon Goodman’s niece.

In June, 1853, the rev. gentleman sailed for the antipodes and landed in Melbourne in December of the same year. He was immediately appointed examining chaplain to Bishop Perry, and one of his first duties was to examine Dean Vance for holy orders. By a curious error the Bishop when signing the ordination papers signed Dean Vance’s first and made him senior to the examining chaplain, who was actually the senior. His first special license in Victoria was at Heidelberg, where he labored for a year and then accepted the cure of Christ Church, Geelong, preaching his first sermon on the first Sunday in the year 1855. The parish then had been fairly established, but only after a series of trying circumstances, afterwards very entertainingly described by the deceased gentleman in a booklet issued in the same year. A particularly meritorious sketch by the Canon of the old church as it stood then constituted the frontispiece, and the letterpress dealt ably with the trials of the parishioners, firstly in building the church and subsequently in having a minister appointed.

Canon Goodman’s career at the church is practically the history of the church. His labours commenced at the time when Geelong was in the zenith of its prosperity, and a representative congregation was attracted to the church by his ministry. The erection of the Grammar School in the adjacent was a noteworthy even in the early years of his work, and the boys attending the school were always loved members of the congregation. On various occasions the Canon referred affectionately to the boys of his congregation, and said their presence in the south transept had always been an inspiration to him. He belonged to the old school of clergymen, and was not wont to preach on topical subjects. The Bible was his text-book and very lucidly he would expound its lessons and teachings. The rev. gentleman always preached from manuscript, and was an accomplished reader. To peruse his manuscript was to be convinced of his painstaking preparations of his sermons. There was no interlineations; if a word was erased the substitute was clearly written on the blank sheet opposite. Emphasis of a strong point was never lacking, and lines of varying thickness were observed under passages requiring emphasis. He appeared to have made a complete study of public reading, and another of his publications was “The Principles and Practices of Public Reading.” On special occasions when notable events came round he preached some very fine sermons dealing with Imperial matters and noteworthy international happenings, but his forte was really in expounding the scriptures as clerics of the old school were wont to deal with them. Though frequently offered advancement in the church, he persistently refused to entertain the overtures. He was deeply attached to the Christ Church, and furthermore disliked pushing his claims to attract public attention. Faithfully and conscientiously, even in his declining years he discharged the duties pertaining to his incumbency, but in 1960 he expressed a desire to enter into a well-earned rest and preached his farewell sermon on Sunday, September 2nd, 1906. It was a message of characteristic modesty, expressing his thanks for Divine guidance and grace for so long a period, and for the devoted attachment of his parishioners.

On the celebration of his jubilee in 1905 special services were conducted in the church by the late Archdeacon – now Bishop – Langley, and at a public gathering the parishioners and the boys of the Grammar School made tangible expressions of their good-will and love for their veteran clergyman. Since his retirement he had been a regular attendant at the communion service at the church, and was present at the confirmation service conducted at the church on Sunday week by the Bishop of Ballarat. His leisure time was devoted to reading – one of the greatest pleasures of his life. Before coming to Victoria he did a great deal of literary work in the way of reviews and Biblical research, and in addition to the works mentioned he also published a volume dealing with the Church of England in Victoria during the episcopate of Bishop Perry. To the last Canon Goodman was an omnivorous reader. He regularly read Greek for an hour or two each morning, and frequently for his amusement exercised his skill in the intricacies of higher mathematics. Early in the year partial deafness troubled him a good deal, but towards the end this disappeared, and he was in full enjoyment of his faculties.

Outside his incumbency he was a valued servant of the church in the role of examining chaplain to four successive Bishops – the Revs, Perry, Moorhouse, Goe and Clarke – the last-named gentleman on his first visit to Geelong making special reference to the unique record of the Canon in this respect. For forty years he was secretary of the Church of England Grammar School, and only relinquished his duties on retirement from the church. For a considerable period he was Rural Dean and Anglican Chaplain at the gaol, and was keenly interested in the work of the British and Foreign Bible Society, being president of the Geelong auxiliary for several successive years. He was also a committeeman of the Geelong Hospital and Geelong Mechanics’ Institute, and rendered valuable assistance to the Geelong Ladies’ Benevolent Society, of which the late Mrs. Goodman was many times president. He was probably one of the best known clergymen of the State by reason of the fact that most of the members of the Victorian clergy passed through his hands for examination for holy orders.

Canon Goodman married shortly before leaving London, and his widow predeceased him some years ago. There were five daughters and one son in the family, and only two daughters survive.

The interment will take place to-day at the Eastern Cemetery, and the Ven. Archdeacon Crossley will officiate, assisted by the Rural Dean (the Rev. Henry Kelly) and Rev. Dr. Pritchard. A number of other Anglican clergymen who have been at various times associated with the deceased gentleman have intimated their intention of being present. A special burial service will take place at Christ Church prior to the funeral, and commencing at three o’clock.