Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Old England Goodsons.

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Was there ever a more patriotic, stalwart, dependable sounding name as this?
The first Old England I found was born in 1875 in Aston Clinton, a village sited at the crossing of two Roman roads, Akeman Street and Icknield Way, between Tring and Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.

His parents were John and Mary, and when Old England was born John was working as a Straw dealer. Straw was actually a large part of the local economy in Aston Clinton, so much so that even the Postmaster was a Straw dealer on the side!

By the age of 15, Old is in St Bride’s in London, working as a Grocer’s assistant to Thomas Crook, who was from a village only a mile or two from his – presumably Old’s family knew Thomas before his move to London and Old decided he wanted to try living in the big city – however 10 years later we find him back living with his parents, his father now a Duck Breeder (presumably the famous Aylesbury Ducks) but himself still working as a Grocer, only this time on his own account.

1911 finds him with his widowed Father and a wife, Eliza Matilda (Stevens), they’ve been married 6 years but have no children.

1905 Married At the Church of Holy Cross, Hankerton, on the 30th ult. by the Vicar. Old England,
only son of Mr John Goodson, of Aston Clinton, to Eliza Matilda, daughter of Mr G
Stevens, of Hankerton.
Bucks Herald Saturday 4 February 1905

The are living in Green End Street, between Gingers Farm (The farmhouse still exists, but the Farm now seems to be Ginger’s Close) and The Partridge, which means it could well be this house, now known as Dormer Cottage. Old E. is now a Duck breeder and dealer. Sadly however Old E. dies later that year, in early September, leaving his wife around £24,000 in today’s money, aged just 36.

So, why ‘Old England’? Well his Grandfather was called England Goodson, and his Father and Grandfather before him were Old England as well, so although it seems the Old was temporarily dropped it is, by the time we come to this Old England, a family name. The original, presuming there are none before and it’s not just that the records no longer exist, is born in 1703 (the same year the Mount Gay distillery was founded, irrelevant but sort of interesting!) to Thomas and Mary Goodson, living in Halton, just a few miles from Aston Clinton.

One possibility of the origin is that on the 7th February 1703 (Old England is baptised on the 21st, and children were usually baptised within 3 weeks of birth at this time) the original negotiations for the Union of Scotland and England were temporarily thrown out, thus preserving the cultural ideology of Merry ‘Old England’. It might seem a little tenuous, but it was a subject many people felt strongly about (and still do!), and as the other children have relatively normal names (aside from the excellently named Aquilla) we can assume that this reason could be a strong contender.

Incidentally it was Aquilla’s son Francis who was the only other person to revive the name with his son, born circa. 1821. In 1841 Francis was a court Door and Office keeper for the courts, and Old England no. 2 is a police constable living  on Bow street (The Bow street runners come to mind). I came across an article of a constable Goodson breaking up a fight in a train station, however the first name was not given.

the black lion

The Black Lion c. 1820

Old England no.2 does not stay in this job however, he becomes the landlord/licensed victualler first of The White Horse in Covent Garden and then of the Black Lion on Church Street in the Chelsea borough. 

However he too dies young, just a year after moving to the Black Lion in 1858.

So now, we must say Adieu to Old England, Adieu! (sorry).