Goodwin, Henry

Lieutenant Colonel Goodwin c1870’s QOR Museum photo

Lieutenant Colonel Henry Goodwin veteran of the Battle of Waterloo 1815, Adjutant of the Queen’s Own Rifles 1860-1865, Provincial Storekeeper for Ontario 1856-1877 was born 16 April 1795 in Donaghenry Stewartstown, Tyrone, Northern Ireland.

Having 25 years experience in the British Army including being wounded twice at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and 5 years as Captain of the Toronto Foot Artillery, Goodwin came to the Queen’s Own on its inception in 1860 as the regiment’s first Adjutant.

Goodwin married Ellen in 1819, they had five children together, she died in 1833. In 1835 he married Rebecca Hannah Broadhurst Howell, they had eleven children together. Goodwin and his family emigrated to Canada in 1850 and arrived at Quebec 1 April of that year. In between soldiering he was a teacher at numerous schools including the Normal and Modern schools and Upper Canada College in Toronto.

Goodwin died in 1877 while still serving as Provincial Storekeeper and is buried in the family plot at St Michael’s Cemetery in Toronto.

From “The Irishman in Canada” by Nicholas Flood Davin 1877

A founder in his own line was Colonel Henry Goodwin, who was a few months ago borne to his last resting place with military honours, followed by gallant men who felt that the remains of their military father were about to be committed to the hospitable, blessedly-transforming bosom of the ” bountiful mother.” When he died, the clubs rang with his praises from the lips of volunteer officers.  No man ever came away from him without being inspired with military ardour.  He was endeared to a wide circle, young and old, whom he had educated.  He had great force of character, and raised himself to the position he held by his perseverance, his military genius, and his integrity.

Born in the County Tyrone, on the 2nd June, 1795, of Catholic parents, he lived with his family as a farmer’s boy until 1812. He was then seventeen years of age, and must have been a splendid looking young fellow, for as South says—he who in his old age is comely, must in his youth have been very fair.  On the 4th of July, a recruiting party of the Royal Horse Artillery passed through the town land where his father’s farm stood.  Gunpowder was in the air in those days, and it must have been hard for a gallant young fellow to ‘keep out of the fray.   He took the shilling; joined the expedition to Flanders; was present at Waterloo where he was twice wounded; joined, on recovery, the Grand Army at the Paris Camp; remained with the army of occupation until 1818; returned to Woolwich; received his discharge on the reduction of the army; remained at his home in the County Tyrone a little over a year; married and enlisted in the King’s Light Infantry.  He was soon made head drill instructor.  In 1837 he was discharged with a pension which he drew to the hour of his death.

During the three years he was in France he acquired great proficiency in fencing, gymnastics, and sword exercise.  He was awarded the highest prize for sword and gymnastic exercise in every country he had visited:  France, Spain, Italy, England and Ireland.   In the two last countries he kept schools for instruction in gymnastics and the use of the sword.

In 1850 he determined to emigrate to Canada.  He arrived at Quebec on the 1st of April.  Here he opened a school, and at once attracted the attention of Lady Elgin, who employed him to give instruction to her children in calisthenics, general deportment, and riding.   So much satisfaction did he give, that Lord Elgin urged Dr. Ryerson to engage him as a teacher of gymnastics, fencing, and general deportment.  From 1853 until 1877, he taught in the Normal and Model Schools. He wrote on the 27th of last January: ” I will continue to teach as long as I can give satisfaction to the establishments with which I am engaged, namely, Normal and Model Schools, Upper Canada College, Bishop Strachan’s Ladies School, Mrs. Neville’s Ladies School, Mrs. Nixon’s Ladies School, and private families.”

He proved a valuable man to the military department.  He drilled all the independent corps organized before the embodyment of the permanent militia officers and men, artillery, cavalry and infantry.  He assisted Colonel G. Denison to organize the Toronto Field Battery and remained with it as adjutant and drill-instructor five years, when the 2nd or Queen’s Own and 10th Royals had to be formed.  Colonel Denison, then commandant would not form them unless Goodwin became adjutant and drill instructor.  The duties of this position he discharged with so much skill and courtesy, that the officers would not allow him to leave the battalion, but passed a unanimous vote that he was still to remain a member.  ” I still belong to the 10th Battalion,” said the brave old fellow two months before he died, ” and will do so as long as God gives me health to serve them.”

Colonel Goodwin was also store-keeper for the Militia Store Department, and from 1856 until 1877 not a cent’s worth of the stores under his charge had been lost or mislaid.

The Colonel was twice married and had two families.   By his first wife who died in 1835 he had five children.  He married his second wife in 1837. By her he had eleven children.   From accidents and other causes only two of his children were alive in January last.

He was a thorough soldier, one of the noble military characters which make the army so popular. He retained his military bearing to the last and died in harness.

Timeline of Military Service:

  • 1812, 4 July, enlisted in Royal Horse Artillery;
  • 1815, 15 August present at Battle of Waterloo where he was twice wounded;
  • 1818, discharged from Army;
  • 1819, re-enlisted in the 85th, or The King’s Regiment of Light Infantry (Bucks Volunteers) where he was made head drill instructor;
  • 1837, discharged from Army;
  • 1856, 31 March, formation of Toronto Foot Artillery Company, Goodwin appointed Adjutant and drill instructor;
  • 1860, 26 April, Foot Artillery Company becomes No. 5 Company 2 Bn VMRC Goodwin appointed Adjutant;
  • 1865, 27 January retired with rank of Major, appointed provincial storekeeper at Toronto.
2nd Battalion (Queen’s Own) Volunteer Rifles on parade 1863
Captain and Adjutant Henry Goodwin has been identified as the mounted Officer behind and slightly left of centre of the soldiers on parade QOR Museum image

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