James Graham Goodenough R.N.
James Graham Goodenough R.N.

Royal NavyPersonnel

Browse officers in command: A - B; C - E; F - G; H - K; L - O; P - R; S - T; U - Z; ??
James Graham Goodenough R.N.Explanation
Date (from)(Date to)Personal
3 December 1830 Born (Stoke Hill, Guilford, Surrey, England)
31 May 1864 Married Victoria Henrietta (c1840-1917), daughter of William John Hamilton (1805-1867)
20 August 1875 Died (in command of Pearl; suddenly attacked with a poisoned arrow during negotiations with the inhabitants of Santa Crus Island, Friendly Islands)
5 June 1850Mate
23 June 1851Lieutenant
26 February 1858Commander
9 May 1863Captain
Date fromDate toService
5 June 185022 June 1851Mate in Excellent, commanded by Captain Henry Ducie Chads, gunnery ship, Portsmouth
11 September 185116 September 1853Lieutenant in Centaur, commanded by Captain Edward St Leger Cannon, flagship of Rear-Admiral William Willmott Henderson on the South-east coast of America station
17 September 18536 May 1854Lieutenant in Centaur, commanded by Captain Thomas Harvey, flagship of Rear-Admiral William Willmott Henderson on the South-east coast of America station
9 May 18542 January 1855Lieutenant in Calcutta, commanded by Captain James John Stopford
3 January 185512 February 1855Lieutenant in Excellent, commanded by Captain Thomas Maitland, gunnery ship, Portsmouth
13 February 185512 December 1855Lieutenant in Hastings, commanded by Captain James Crawford Caffin, the Baltic during the Russian War
15 February 18563 September 1856Lieutenant and commander in Goshawk
4 September 185614 April 1857Lieutenant in Raleigh, commanded by Henry Keppel, flagship of William Willmott Henderson, en route to the East Indies and China station until wrecked near Macaw when the ship struck an uncharted rock; all saved
15 April 185731 August 1857Lieutenant in Alligator, commanded by Henry Keppel, flagship of William Willmott Henderson, East Indies and China (including 2nd Anglo-Chinese War)
1 September 185712 January 1858Additional lieutenant in Calcutta, commanded by Captain William King Hall, flagship of Rear-Admiral Michael Seymour on the East Indies and China station (including 2nd Anglo-Chinese War)
14 January 185828 February 1858Acting commander in Calcutta, commanded by Captain William King Hall, flagship of Rear-Admiral Michael Seymour on the East Indies and China station (including 2nd Anglo-Chinese War)
26 February 185812 August 1859Commander in Calcutta, commanded by Captain William King Hall, East Indies and China (including 2nd Anglo-Chinese War)
20 September 18591 May 1862Commander in Renard, East Indies and China (until Goodenough invalided)
3 July 18624 June 1863Commander (2ic) in Revenge, commanded by Charles Fellowes, flagship of Rear-Admiral Robert Smart, Channel squadron
14 September 18641 November 1864Additional captain in Victory, commanded by Captain Francis Scott, flag-ship, Commander-in-chief Portsmouth, for service in Victoria
2 November 186424 May 1866Captain in Victoria (from commissioning at Portsmouth), flagship of Vice-Admiral Robert Smart, Mediterranean
3 December 18665 April 1867Additional captain in Victory, commanded by Captain Hon. Francis Egerton, flag-ship, Commander-in-chief Portsmouth, for service in Minotaur
6 April 186725 October 1870Captain in Minotaur, Channel squadron
9 September 18719 August 1872Naval attaché to various embassies in Europe
22 May 187320 August 1875Captain in Pearl (from commissioning at Portsmouth), Australia (until killed)
Extracts from the Times newspaper
We 25 August 1875


The following are copies of two telegrams received at the Colonial Office from the Governor of New South Wales:—

"August 23.

"I regret to have to announce the death, on 20th inst., of Commodore Goodenough, from wounds received at Santa CruzExternal link. Have only just received the sad intelligence by telegraph from Nelson's Bay, on the coast. Her Majesty’s ship Pearl, with body on board, now coming into Sydney Harbour. Further particulars later."

"August 23, 2 p.m.

"No. 2. — Pearl just anchored; have learnt following particulars from Captain Hastings. On 12th August Commodore and party landed at Carlisle Bay, Santa Crus Island, to open friendly intercourse with natives; this being place where "Sandfly" was attached last year. After being nearly an hour on shore, and satisfied with conciliatory progress made, the party were preparing to leave for ship, when a native standing about four yards off fired a poisoned arrow at Commodore Goodenough, which struck him on the left side. The boats at once shoved off, receiving at the same time several flights of arrows. Seven were wounded altogether, including Commodore and Sub-lieutenant Hawker. The Commodore and two of the boat's crew have since died; the remainder are doing well, but cannot be pronounced out of danger from tetanus for 20 days from the date of wound. Before leaving Carlisle Bay, village was burnt by boats from Pearl. Commodore's funeral takes place to-morrow afternoon."
Th 26 August 1875Telegrams bearing last Monday's date have been received at the Colonial Office from Sydney announcing the loss of valuable life under peculiarly painful conditions. The Captain and two of the crew of one of Her Majesty’s ships have died from the effects of wounds received during what was on their part intended as a friendly visit to one of the islands in the South Pacific Ocean. The screw steamer Pearl, the flagship of the Australian Station, in the course of a cruise among these numerous islands touched at Carlisle Bay, Santa CruzExternal link, and a party, headed by the Flag Officer, Commodore Goodenough, went on shore for the purpose, as we are informed, of bringing about an amicable intercourse with the natives. Their reception, as it appeared to them, was satisfactory, and they remained ashore nearly an hour exchanging customary civilities. As the party was re-embarking, a native standing at a short distance discharged a poisoned arrow at Commodore Goodenough, which pierced his left side. The boats at once pushed off, followed by several flights of arrows. Seven of the party were wounded, three of whom, including the Commodore, have since died, and it is more than probable that fatal consequences will follow in other cases. The story is a lamentable one, and those who are familiar with the history of our intercourse with these islands, and are interested in the not unsuccessful efforts which have hitherto been made for their civilization, will find but little consolation in the sequel. Summary vengeance was resolved upon and executed. Boats instantly put off from the Pearl to punish the outrage, and the island village was reduced to ashes, with what loss of life our information does not say, The Commodores body was brought on Monday morning into Sydney Harbour, to be interred on Tuesday afternoon. Such is the outline, as it appeared in our issue of yesterday, of a most disastrous and lamentable incident. Perhaps the most lamentable of the circumstances is that almost everything that happened might, by persons possessing an ordinary knowledge of previous events, have been distinctly foreseen. A party from the Sandfly, a small sailing vessel on the same station, was last year attacked in the same place; and there can be little doubt that the speedy appearance of a man-of-war like the Pearl in the same seas was interpreted by these restless and suspicious islanders in the most hostile of all possible senses. The island is almost unknown to Europeans. The party who landed can have known next to nothing of the language of the natives, and there were no interpreters. In these circumstances the utmost tact, forbearance, and discrimination could have been of small avail. Fear, mingled with the natural instinct of aversion, obviously prompted the murderous resolve, and a distinguished and promising officer, locally holding high rank in the Royal Navy, has fallen a victim to his imprudence. The circumstances of this melancholy event closely resemble those attending the fate of Cook, the greatest of maritime discoverers since Columbus. They will recall to every English mind the sad death of Patterson, the devoted apostle at once of Christianity and of civilization, who fell a victim to his noble enthusiasm in these very islands, and near the very spot which has just been made memorable by the untimely death of Commodore Goodenough.
The archipelagos of the South-West Pacific are exceedingly various in the character of their population. Most of the islanders are willing to enter into a simple kind of trade with Europeans, consisting mainly in the exchange of fresh provisions for iron and glass implements. The enthusiasm of a few men has gone far beyond this point, and there are many stations where European ideas have of late years been largely introduced, though hardly to an extent approaching the semi-civilization of the Sandwich Islanders. The South Sea Islanders are quick and vivacious to a high degree, and they think little enough in general of what the European mind considers to be crimes of violence. At the same time they can be, especially to those who have learnt the art of dealing with them, friendly, docile, trusty, and obedient. Those who habitually visit them divide them into three classes. There are, in the first place, those with whom intercourse has long subsisted, where Christian morals and civilized life have in some degree established themselves, and where the flower of the youth are annually committed to the care of missionaries to be educated in the schools of New Zealand. There are those who are yet in a more or less rude condition, where even cannibalism, it may be, is not extinct, but who receive Europeans with respect, and make advances to them with confidence. Lastly, there are those who are in an emphatic sense in a savage state, and among whom the European sets foot at his peril. Among these the Santa Cruz group has long been notorious. It was at ErromangoExternal link that WilliamsExternal link, the Christian pioneer, perished. It was at the same place, only fourteen years ago, that Bishop PattesonExternal link performed the sad task of reading the Burial Service over the GordonsExternal link, murdered from the supposed connexion of missionary warnings with a devastating epidemic. It was in Santa Cruz that the lives of Bishops SelwynExternal link and Patteson were twice aimed at, and twice providentially spared. The island is fertile and populous, the inhabitants are said to be not devoid of ingenuity and industry, but Patteson, even with the rare tact, the persevering and laborious skill, and the amazing courage which made him the greatest missionary of modern times, was never able to gain a footing among them. Seven times he landed on the island in 1862, in seven different places, and each time with the same result. Still undaunted, he returned in 1864, when two of his followers perished in the attempt, and he himself narrowly escaped. In 1866, the missionary ship was once more at Santa Cruz, but prudence compelled a speedy retreat. Disappointed in all his attempts on the chief of the group, the devoted Bishop confined his efforts to the smaller islands, and it was on landing at Nukapu, hard by, that he met with his martyr's death. He had paid considerable attention to the Santa Cruz group, and especially to the chief island. "I am sure," he wrote in 1870, "that no white man has set foot in Santa Cruz for many years, except myself, and I can't speak a sentence of their language." Where Patteson could not set foot in safety, what confidence could be inspired by the commander and crew of a man-of-war, appearing, as must have seemed only too probable, to punish former outrages? Savages, in the ordinary sense, all these islanders may not be, but they have not yet developed the mental qualities necessary to understand elementary European ideas. Above all, as Patteson himself pointed out, in great alarm, when it was first proposed to send men-of-war cruising about these seas, the idea of the "great ships" fills them with terror. Most of them do not even know the nature of the abuses which the Queen’s ships are commissioned to prevent. At any rate, they may well regard them as the greatest manifestation of the power of those Europeans by whom they have been too often cheated, plundered, and outraged. It would be easy enough, therefore, to understand these terrible incidents, even though there were no cases in which they might be traceable to circumstances almost accidental. The mere habit of warfare is often enough. A young native, or a party of them, may draw their bows on the visitors from mere wantonness. A chief, it may be, has through ignorance not been sufficiently distinguished by marks of consideration. Fear mingles with the feeling of offended dignity and of the excitement of a rare and apparently portentous visit, fingers nervously clutch the familiar bow, and the old sad scene is repeated. Half-hesitating, half-resolved, the wild, armed crowd of dusky figures follow the strangers down to the beach. Then comes a single arrow, followed by the fatal flight from many bows, the hasty retreat, and the lingering death.
From the present sad case English crews who navigate these seas may learn a useful lesson. The South Sea Islander is not to be dealt with successfully by mere force; nor are his repugnance and fear to be overcome by the ordinary forms of finesse. Intercourse with these people demands a special talent and very considerable observation. An experienced traveller will detect as he advances to land, in some apparently insignificant circumstance, the sign that should warn him off. A couple of young men separating themselves from the rest, an unusual call, an apparently unmeaning gesture, are sufficient. Such signs have remained nearly the same for three hundred years, for the experience of the Spanish adventurer who first sought these seas was identical with our own. Familiarity with danger, however, leads to the neglect of precautions. Those who sail under the British flag are more than all disposed to imagine themselves secure in the strength which its terrors usually communicate. But it is plain that where real and reputed benevolence, habitual conciliation of manner, and profound and extensive knowledge have utterly failed the blunt approaches of British sailors are hardly likely to be successful. Where the Southern Cross was repeatedly repulsed an English man-of-war may well anticipate terror, resistance, and treachery. Under existing circumstances, none should venture upon communication with those islanders where danger may reasonably be anticipated without special qualifications for the task.

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