GOODYER: John Eli & Susannah Sarah (nee Chapman)

John (1823 – 1908) a convict and farmer – Susannah (1827 – 1908) a mother and mid-wife

John and Susannah were my g.g.g. grandparents and though now separated by generations of ancestors still hold a special place and connection in our family. This is due to them having reared our grandmother Rose who lived with John and Susannah for around 22 years. She was their great-granddaughter and came to live with them following the death of her mother, Louisa. Rose was two and a half years old when her mother died.

John and Susannah and family of 13 children grew up on their farm at Ravenswood, plus five grandchildren, who were later taken in.

John and Susannah Goodyer

John Goodyer – Early Years

John was born at Bulkington, Warwickshire, England on 11 April 1823, the son of Eli and Jane Goodyer (nee Madlin), and came from a family of ribbon weavers. His siblings were Sarah, Eli, Joseph, Martha, Thomas, Samuel and James. John’s mother died when he was five, soon after the birth of James.

On Wednesday 18 July 1838, in company with three older men, William Whetstone, William Merry and John Argyle they performed a robbery at Tothem Common, Bulkington. The victim George Fletcher, a brazier. 

Stolen were-

  • 1 watch, 30/- 
  • 2 fishing lines, 2d
  • 5 sovereigns
  • One half sovereign 
  • One half crown

Family stories state that John’s involvement was not part of the assault but was involved by eeping a watch at a distance. During the assault George was hit by a bludgeon on the head, left ear and upper lip.

The culprits were apprehended and on 4 August 1838 were convicted at the Warwick Assizes and sentenced to transportation for life. John was sent to Millbank Penitentiary.

On 18 January 1839 an appeal for clemency was refused by Mr. Joseph Treddell, a magistrate.

A description of John is provided in his convict record-

  • Height – 5ft. 3ins (without shoes)
  • Complexion – Ruddy
  • Hair – Red
  • Eyes – Hazel
  • Head – Long


John left Sheerness, Kent on 9 April 1839 travelling aboard the transport “Egypt” a barque of 359 tons. It carried 179 convicted boys, 10 male prisoners and a detachment of the 51st. Regiment and their families. After 136 days, on 23 August 1839, the ship reached Van Diemen’s Land. In 1841 John was assigned to Mr. Charles Friend, who owned land in the Tamar area.

John’s reputation in prison was bad, but the ship’s surgeon said he had a fine disposition. On 3 November 1843, there is a record of him being sentenced by Magistrate Ashburner to 36 lashes for misconduct. Ashburner was the owner of “Sillwood”, Carrick where John worked as a labourer.

Later in that decade, he is to be found at Ravenswood working as a farm labourer for William Chapman. There he married Susannah Chapman the youngest daughter of William and Elizabeth Chapman, marrying on 3 November 1846 at the Holy Trinity Church, Launceston. In the Census of 1st January 1848, three people are recorded, John and Susannah and a female child under two years, residing in an unfinished wooden house at North Esk Creek, (Ravenswood).  The proprietor of the house being William Chapman.


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John Goodyer and Susanna Chapman – marriage certificate

John and Susannah lived at this property for the rest of their lives, both dying there in 1908.

At the farm, John continued with agricultural activities. An indication of his good farming skills comes by gaining first prize in the 1852 East Tamar Ploughing Competition. There is a record of him keeping a garden, maintaining an apple and pear orchard and having beehives. Sheep were also run and were housed in a large barn overnight for protection.

John received a Ticket of Leave on 25 October 1847 and a Conditional Pardon, May 1851.

A few stories about John and Susannah have been handed down – 

They were much loved and admired and remembered with fondness. John as he slowed up in his later years, often walked a few paces behind his wife. His quiet disposition was in contrast to his wife’s more business-like nature. John’s favourite saying was “Trust in Providence” and his favourite dish, Yorkshire pudding.

All the grandchildren adored him, remembering Grandfather Goodyer as a wonderful old man, who used to say ”Pop Pop” as they fussed about his fireside chair. Another favourite spot was to sit under the close by gum tree, often dozing there.

Rose, the great granddaughter, is remembered for watching the clock, waiting for John to return from business in town. He always returned with a small gift for the children of the household.

Susannah is particularly remembered for her work as a midwife and was frequently away from home, working till around 80 years of age. The last baby she helped to deliver was the last child of the large Leslie family who lived in the area. By this time Susannah had retired as a mid-wife but Mr. Leslie came and pleaded that she assist, saying that she had helped to deliver all the other children.

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Susanna(h) Goodyer

A local newspaper recorded her obituary as follows –

“Mrs Goodyer of Ravenswood, died yesterday, at her residence, aged 81 years. The deceased lady was a native of the place, and her death occurred within a few hundred yards of where she was born in 1827. What remained of the original house was pulled down only last Saturday. Mrs Goodyer never went far from her home. She has left a family and numerous grandchildren. Her memory was good. . . Mrs Goodyer’s husband, 85 years of age, still survives but is in a very low state of health. Many Elphin-road people will miss the familiar face of the old lady. Up till within a fortnight ago she walked to town and back again twice a week. Mrs Goodyer’s recollections carried her back to the time before a bridge was at Hobbler’s and when there was only a ferry at Launceston.”

Susannah’s obituary also referenced her fondness and care for Aboriginal peoples. However, it has not been quoted directly due to language that is no longer considered appropriate.

Susannah’s death and funeral notice are as follows. They are to be found pasted in the family Bible.

Deaths – (1908) 

  • GOODYER – On the 13th May, at her residence, Ravenswood, Susannah, beloved wife of John Goodyer, aged 81 years.


  • The funeral of the late Mrs. Goodyer, will leave Distillery Creek on Saturday 16 inst., at 
  • 3 o’clock, for the Church of England Cemetery, Elphin. Friends are invited to attend –
  • STORRER, Undertakers, St. John-street.


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Susannah Goodyer – Remembrance Card

John did not live long after the death of Susannah, dying at Ravenswood on 25 May 1908, 12 days later and was buried in the Elphin Church of England cemetery.

Several In Memorials appeared a year later. One of these was inserted by those who shared house with John.

GOODYER – In sad but loving memory of our dear father, who passed away May 25, 1908

  • Dearest father, he has left us,
  • Left us, yes, for evermore;
  • But we hope to meet our loved one
  • On that bright and happy shore.

Inserted by his loving daughters J.(Jane) and C.(Clara) and grandchildren R.(Rose) and H.(Hilda) Goodyer and G.(Grace) and L.(Leonard) and J.(James) Carter.

Family Tree – John Eli and Susannah Sarah GOODYER (nee Chapman)

Children –

  1. Sarah Jane Goodyer 1846-1927
    1. Partner. Francis Hill 1824-1898
    1. m. James McGiveron 1823-1889
  2. Martha Elizabeth Goodyer 1848-1913
    1. m. John Smith 1833-1907
  3. John Eli Goodyer 1850-1898
    1. m. Elizabeth Ann Crawford 1854-1921
  4. Mary Ann Goodyer 1853-1925
    1. m. Thomas Millwood 1850-1908
  5. Thomas William Goodyer 1855-1892
    1. m. Unknown/possibly single
  6. Elizabeth Goodyer 1858-1941
    1. m. Thomas David Hill 1857-1909
  7. Henry Eli Goodyer 1860-1907
    1. m. Martha Theresa Elmore 1861-1943
  8. Anne Editha Goodyer 1862-1892
    1. m. James Carter 1857-1897
  9. Emily Matilda Goodyer 1865-1942
    1. m. John Row 1862-1900
  10. Jane Harriet Goodyer 1867-1943
    1. m. Unknown – had a child Hilda
  11. Clara Harriet Goodyer 1869-1931
    1. m. Unknown/possibly single
  12. Susan Alice Goodyer 1872-1956
    1. m. William Bassett 1882-1949
  13. Rebecca Goodyer 1874-1943
    1. m(1) Samuel James Bassett 1866-1903
    2. m(2) John Dudman 1881-1952

Written by Ivan Badcock – 1 May 2022

1 thought on “GOODYER: John Eli & Susannah Sarah (nee Chapman)

  1. John Goodyer

    I am John Goodyer ( b ) 1952 Leeds, England.
    John Eli Goodyer ( b ) 1823 Bulkington, England. was a brother of my g.g. Grandfather, William Goodyer ( b ) 1818.
    Your outline of his life has been most helpful and enlightening. Any other information on who you are would be equally appreciated ?


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