Death of Mr. J.D. Goodman

12th February 1900

Mr. J.D. Goodman

We regret to announce that death has deprived the city of Birmingham of one of its most active and most respected public men. Mr. J.D. Goodman passed away at his residence, Peachfield, Edgbaston, early yesterday morning, in his eighty-fourth year. The deceased gentleman had been ailing for several months, an attack of influenza in October last having left him in a weak state. Last Monday he showed signs of increasing feebleness, and on Friday a serious change for the worse was observed. Early on Saturday morning he had a slight seizure, probably caused by an effusion on the brain. He remained conscious, however, until about mid-day, when he fell into a quiet and painless sleep, which ended in his death. Throughout the whole of his illness he was attended by Dr. Malins, who has been his medical adviser for many years.

Early Associations

John Dent Goodman was born at Peterborough in 1816, his father Thomas Goodman, belonging to a well-known Peterborough family, and his mother, Mary Dent, being from Lincoln. Of the four children of this marriage Mr. J.D. Goodman was the eldest, the youngest being the Rev. George Goodman, a canon of Melbourne Cathedral. Mr. Goodman, therefore, like many other of Birmingham’s most distinguished citizens, was a Birmingham man only by adoption, but the greater part of his life was spent in the town, he was in all essential characteristics a typical Birmingham man. His associations with the town began at an early age, for at the Peterborough Grammar School he had for his master the Rev. Thomas Garbett, brother of the Rev. John Garbett, the first rector of St. George’s, Birmingham, and among his school-fellows the late John Chesshire, the well-known surveyor, and Thomas Ottley, who attained some celebrity as a medallist in Birmingham. His introduction to Birmingham and to Birmingham life was indirectly due to the death of his mother while he was still at school. Thomas Goodman’s second wife was Mary Anne Warner, daughter of a Newhall Street manufacturer, and a connection of the Cotterill’s, a family associated with the business which subsequently developed into that of Scholefield, Goodman, and Sons. In 1826, ten years before his father settled in the town, John Dent Goodman was brought to Birmingham by his stepmother, and placed in the celebrated Hazlewood School, kept by the Hill family, in the Hagley Road. Among the souvenirs of his schooldays kept by Mr. Goodman was a cardboard model of the school which he made with the assistance of William Bowman, afterwards Sir William Bowman, the eminent ophthalmic surgeon. The unique discipline of the school, calculated as it was to develop self-reliance, self-respect, and a strong sense of duty, no doubt had a good deal to do with the success Mr. Goodman achieved in commercial and public life, and with the high personal esteem which he enjoyed for so many years. On August 12, 1844, Mr. Goodman married Mary Martin, daughter of Mr. Buck, a well-known London merchant. Mrs. Goodman died in 1893, but, with the exception of his eldest daughter, Mrs. Crockett, who died in 1878, all his children – four sons and three daughters – are living.

Business Life

Mr. Goodman’s business life commenced in 1831, when he was first apprenticed to the Scholefields. The firm with which he thus became associated was already an old-established one. It was commenced in 1780 by Clement Cotterill, and on July 1, 1795, a partnership was formed under the style of Ketland, Cotterill & Sons, “for the collection of hardwares, buttons, buckles, and all other articles manufactured in this and the neighbouring towns, and exported to the United States of North America and elsewhere”. Two daughters of Clement Cotterill were married in succession to Joshua Scholefield, who represented Birmingham in Parliament from 1832, when the franchise was first conferred upon the borough, until his death in 1844. The firm thus became, about the year 1825, Joshua Scholefield & Sons, the “sons” being Clement Cotterill Scholefield and William Scholefield. The last-named partner, who had preceded Mr. Goodman at Hazlewood School, was Birmingham’s first Mayor, and was elected member of Parliament for the borough in 1847, a position which he continued to fill until his death twenty years later. Young Goodman, like his father, was remarkably painstaking and clear-headed in all business matters, and he showed besides great powers of organisation. Eleven years after his entering the service of the firm he was taken, at the age of twenty-six, into partnership, and the firm became Scholefield and Goodman. From 1861 to 1878 Mr. E.W. Agard was a member of the firm, but from the latter date until early last year, when Mr. Goodman retired, the business was carried on entirely by him and his sons, three of whom, Mr. F.B. Goodman, Mr. C.J. Goodman, and Mr. E.M. Goodman, are now connected with it. The business, which had been carried on for nearly a century in the Minories, was removed to the present premises in Edmund Street, the site of the old premises having been included in the Improvement Scheme.

The Gun Trade

Mr. Goodman’s connection with the gun trade was of long standing. In 1838, when in the employ of the Scholefields, he entered into partnership with Mr. J.R. Cooper, and subsequently with that gentleman’s brother, Mr. Charles Cooper, the business being carried on at first under the name of J.R. Cooper and Co., and afterwards under that of Cooper and Goodman, until 1888. From an early period he took the lead in matters connected with this trade. At the meeting held on March 15, 1855, to arrange for the promotion of the Act of Parliament establishing the Birmingham Proof-house, he presided, and on March 10, 1856, at the first meeting of the trade held under the Act, he was appointed chairman for the year.

Birmingham Small Arms Company

The year 1855 also saw the origin of the Birmingham Small Arms Company, with which through all its vicissitudes Mr. Goodman remained prominently associated. On the breaking out of the Crimean War, the Government being urgently in need of arms, called upon fourteen firms in Birmingham to furnish a supply. These firms subsequently became an association under the title of “The Birmingham Military Arms Trade,” with Mr. Goodman as chairman. The association was succeeded in 1861 by the Birmingham Small-arms Company, whose works at Small Heath were opened in 1862. In 1873 the metal works at Adderley Park were purchased by the company, the manufacture of ammunition was added, and the company became “The Birmingham Small-arms and Metal Company”. The company was one of the first to see in the cycle trade a means of utilising its plant and staff when the proper business of the concern was slack. At first bicycles and tricycles were manufactured; but ultimately it was found advisable to confine this branch to the production of cycle components only, a business which has been pursued with such success that “B.S.A. fittings” are among the standard articles in the trade. In the arms trade the company has executed large orders for the British and foreign Governments, and, until a recent rearrangement of the business, also furnished large consignments of shells for quick-firing guns for the navy. The company, in all its phases, has had Mr. Goodman for its chairman, his chairmanship, counting from January, 1855, when the association from which the company sprung was formed, having extended over a period of forty-five years. Owing to the irregularity of Government employment, the company experienced periods of depression, and during the five years 1879-83 no dividend was paid. Mr. Goodman, however, never lost the confidence of the shareholders, and their faith in the shrewdness and capacity of their chairman and his colleagues has been justified by the flourishing position into which the company was ultimately piloted. In 1897, the shareholders showed their gratitude to their veteran chairman by presenting to him a costly service of plate.

Proof-house and Museum of Arms

Mr. Goodman was naturally regarded as the chief authority on the Birmingham gun trade. He remained until his death an ex-officio guardian of the Proof-house, and, during his active connection with that institution he rendered valuable service to the trade and the city in several ways. The Corporation Museum of Arms was founded by him. In 1876 he obtained from the War Office a grant of seventy or eighty specimens of the arms of different periods, and a collection illustrating the various stages in the manufacture of the Enfield Rifle. Subsequently, the Corporation having no funds which could be used for the purpose, he induced his fellow guardians of the Proof-house to purchase the valuable collection made by Cavaliere Callandra, a member of the Italian Parliament. The Museum of Arms thus formed was for some time located in Newhall Street under the management of the Proof-house authorities. In 1876 the collection was presented to the Corporation, and was exhibited for some years at Aston Hall. On the opening of the Corporation Museum and Art Gallery, the arms, with some modern examples, were placed in the gallery of which they form one of the most interesting and useful features. On the British Association visiting Birmingham in 1865 and 1886 Mr. Goodman furnished to the hand-books then prepared valuable articles on the history of the gun trade.

Birmingham and Midland Bank

Neither his own large business nor his connection with the gun trade, however, exhausted Mr. Goodman’s commercial and manufacturing activity. The Birmingham and Midland Bank, which played so large a part in Birmingham commercial life for fifty or sixty years, had for twenty-seven years Mr. W. Scholefield, M.P., as one of its directors, and in 1879 Mr. Goodman joined the Board in succession to Mr. Samuel Thornton. Mr. Goodman was congratulated by Mr. (afterwards Sir) John Jaffray, the shareholder who seconded his nomination, on the courage in undertaking this responsibility “at a time of perplexity and difficulty in all businesses,” and thanked for greatly strengthening public confidence in the bank by accepting office. The bank at that time was an unlimited concern; its share capital was £300,000, its reserve fund was £210,000, and there were only three branches. In the following year the bank was registered as a limited liability company and Mr. Goodman was appointed chairman, an office which he held until the end of 1898. The bank during his chairmanship made steady progress, opening branches and acquiring businesses in various localities, and ultimately amalgamating with the Central Bank, London, and the London and City Bank, its subscribed capital growing by leaps and bounds to a figure over ten millions sterling. At the annual meeting in January, 1890, on the proposition of Alderman Pollack, seconded by Mr. C.E. Matthews, a resolution was passed as a result of which a few months afterwards a portrait of Mr. Goodman, painted by Mr. W.W. Ouless, R.A., was placed in the board room, while a replica was presented to Mrs. Goodman, amid expressions of the highest esteem and personal goodwill towards the chairman of the bank.

Other Commercial Relations

The conversion of Aris’s Gazette into a daily paper, though perhaps chiefly a political enterprise made further calls upon Mr. Goodman’s business capabilities, and in 1870, when the concern became a limited company, he was appointed chairman. His connection with the paper, however, ceased in 1879. Mr. Goodman took part in promoting the erection of the Birmingham Exchange, which was opened in 1865. The Chamber of Commerce at one time absorbed a large portion of his energies, and in 1865, as a member of the council of that body, he went with Mr. Sampson S. Lloyd, then chairman of the Associated Chambers, to report on the exhibition in Moscow. While the interests of the commercial concerns with which he was connected and the general prosperity of the trade of the town received so much of his attention, Mr. Goodman was not unmindful of the rank-and-file of the army of commerce, a notable instance of his consideration for them being the part he took about forty years ago in securing, in conjunction with Mr. George Dixon, with whom the suggestion originated, the Saturday half-holidays for the clerks in the Birmingham mercantile houses.

Conservative Politics

Manifold, however, as were the manifestations of Mr. Goodman’s energy and public spirit in commercial affairs, his direct services to the public were even more multifarious. In politics he was a consistent Conservative, as for many years he was recognised as the leader of his party in Birmingham. At the general election in March, 1857, when Mr. G.F. Muntz and Mr. Goodman’s partner, Mr. W. Scholefield – both of them staunch Liberals and energetic Reformers – were nominated for re-election, and no opposition was offer to “the old members”, we find Mr. Goodman joining the Mr. J.A. Attwood in Mr. Muntz’s nomination. But on the death of Mr. G.F. Muntz in July of the same year, the Conservatives brought forward a candidate, Baron Webster, and Mr. Goodman was vice-chairman of the Conservative election committee, Mr. Attwood being chairman. With this election commenced the long and honourable connection of Mr. John Bright with Birmingham. It was agreed between the two committees that the candidate who secured the fewest promises should retire, and the result is that Mr. Bright was returned without opposition, though he was unable to visit Birmingham during the election, and had issued his address only two days before the nomination. On the death of Mr. Scholefield, in 1867, Mr. Goodman was chairman of the election committee of Mr. Sampson S. Lloyd, the conservative candidate. In 1868, when the borough became a three-cornered constituency, Mr. Goodman acted in a similar capacity on behalf of Mr. Lloyd and Dr. Sebastian Evans. Until the formation of the Conservative Association, Mr. Goodman remained the acknowledged head of the party in Birmingham. He became a member of the Association, but as he grew older his active association with politics was gradually dropped. His last important effort on behalf of his party was in 1885, when, the borough having been divided into seven constituencies, Mr. Goodman acted as chairman of the committee which endeavoured to secure Lord Randolph Churchill’s election for the Central Division in opposition to Mr. John Bright. Steadfast, however, as was Mr. Goodman in his adherence to conservatism at home, he was not out of sympathy with popular aspirations for better government abroad, and in August, 1862, at a town’s meeting, he seconded a resolution proposed by Alderman Ryland, in which the meeting expressed “its heartfelt sympathy with General Garibaldi in his present captivity and suffering, its admiration of his pure and self-sacrificing patriotism, and its earnest hope that he may live to see all Italy united and independent.”

The Church and Education

As a Churchman, Mr. Goodman was equally active and prominent. In fact there is hardly any movement for the furtherance of Church work in Birmingham which is not indebted to him for personal or financial assistance. Of the congregation of St. George’s, Edgbaston, his parish church, he was an active member and office bearer. He was a trustee of the livings of St. Asaph, St. Luke’s, St. Thomas-in-the-Moors, and Immanuel Church, Broad Street. To the elementary school system of the Church he was a generous subscriber; he was for some time a member of the Birmingham Church Council, and at School Board elections he actively supported the Church party. In 1885, with the Rev. Cresswell Strange, Mr. J.U. Caldicott, Mr. A.M. Chance and his son (Mr. E.M. Goodman), he founded the Church of England College for Girls at Edgbaston, which now has more than two hundred scholars, and over the management of which he continued to preside until his death.

Happily there are many branches of public usefulness in which men may work together without regard to creed or politics, and from scarcely one of such activities in Birmingham was Mr. Goodman absent. He joined the Board of Governors of King Edward’s Foundation in 1859, served as bailiff until 1862, and continued his service to the school until about a year ago. For many years he was chairman of the Estates Committee of the Foundation, and he was one of those governors who early recognised the importance of that systematic oversight of the physical training of the pupils which has had such beneficial results, both in the high schools and in the grammar schools.

The Birmingham Educational Association

Education, in fact, as we have already seen, was a subject to which Mr. Goodman all his life devoted much thought and effort. He was for many years one of the leading spirits of the Birmingham Educational Association, his most active colleagues being Mr. W.L. Sargant, the Rev. W. Gover, and Mr. Bunce, all of whom he outlived. The association was formed in the fifties to promote education generally in Birmingham and its neighbourhood, and especially the education of the children of the working classes. It established, among other things, a prize scheme, with the view of inducing parents to prolong the school-time of promising children. The diminishing the number of juvenile vagrants and providing for their education was another part of its work, and the association was also intended to be a means of expressing an opinion on educational measures proposed for consideration in Parliament and elsewhere. The educational returns in the census of 1851 having been found useless for practical purposes, the association made an inquiry into the state of education of the children of the working classes in Birmingham as affected by the demand for labour and other causes. The statistics collected were of a most exhaustive character, and were most carefully tabulated. The compilation of the report was undertaken by Mr. Goodman, as chairman of the committee, and afforded a remarkable example of his painstaking accuracy and attention to details. The prize scheme remained in force until the passing of the Education Act of 1870, and in its early stages Mr. Goodman himself conducted the examinations in arithmetic. His experience in connection with this association enabled Mr. Goodman to contribute to one of the Social Science Congresses a paper on “The results of returns from Birmingham showing the degree in which labour and idleness respectively interfere with education.”

Various Philanthropies

Education in its philanthropic aspect also received eminent service from him in connection with the General Institution for the Blind, of which Mr. Goodman’s father was said to be the second founder, and which now has for the chairman of its committee one of his sons, Mr. E.M. Goodman. Of this institution Mr. J.D. Goodman was from 1854 until his death a trustee. In 1883 he was president of the Royal Institution for Deaf and Dumb Children at Edgbaston. The Blue-coat School received much useful service from him, and in 1889, when he was president, he made a carefully prepared and forcible statement on the overcrowded condition of the school, and thus gave a great impetus to the movement which resulted in the removal scheme which is now in progress.

To the medical charities of Birmingham Mr. Goodman was throughout his life a warm friend, and some of them received signal service from his zeal and business aptitude. As a member of the committee of the Lying-in Charity he was for a long time prominent in his advocacy of reorganisation, and his appointment as chairman in 1868 enabled him to carry out his views. The in-patient department, which used to occupy the building in Broad Street which is now the Children’s Hospital, was closed, and the work of the charity is now carried on in the patients’ homes by certificated midwives, assisted by a competent staff of honorary medical officers. In 1866 he was appointed chairman of the committee of the Eye Hospital, a position which he held for thirteen years. He was at one time chairman, and from 1871 until his death was a trustee, of the Women’s Hospital. He was for many years a member of the committee of the Boatmen’s Hall, while among his numerous honorary appointments may be mentioned those of trustee (1857) and bailiff (1860) of Lench’s Charity, and chairman of the Dudley Trust 1896.

Mr. Goodman never sought municipal honours. He, however, was appointed to the Commission of the Peace for Birmingham in October, 1865, and to that of the county of Warwick. For many years he was most regular and painstaking in the performance of magisterial duties on the borough Bench, and in the conduct of licensing business his care and acumen were conspicuous. In 1888, when Sir John Jaffray retired in consequence of being appointed High Sheriff for Warwickshire, Mr. Goodman succeeded him as deputy chairman of the Birmingham justices and chairman of the Licensing Committee holding the office until a few years ago, when he was succeeded by Mr. Arthur Chamberlain. As a magistrate for Warwickshire Mr. Goodman sat upon the Aston Bench.

In all the foregoing relations, and in many others, Mr. Goodman exhibited the characteristics not only of an able and upright man of business but of a typical Christian gentleman. Tenacious of his own opinions, he was tolerant towards those of others, and rejoiced to co-operate in movements for the public with men of all sections and classes. Handsome in presence, unvarying in courtesy, and kindly towards all, Mr. Goodman was an impressive figure which all who knew him will be sorry to miss.

The funeral is to take place on Thursday, the interment at Edgbaston Old Church being preceded by a service at St. George’s, Edgbaston, at 2.30.

At St. George’s Church, Edgbaston, yesterday morning, the Vicar (the Rev. Canon Owen) alluded in the most feeling manner to the death of Mr. Goodman, and the Dead March in “Saul” was played at the conclusion of the service.