Sidney Leslie Goodwin

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Sidney Leslie Goodwin
Sidney Goodwin.jpg
Sidney Goodwin, circa 1911
Born Sidney Leslie Goodwin
9 September 1910
Melksham, Wiltshire, England
Died (1912-04-15)15 April 1912 (1 year, 225 days)
Atlantic Ocean
Known for The Unknown Child
Parent(s) Frederick Goodwin and Augusta Tyler
Relatives Lillian, Charles, William, Jessie, and Harold Goodwin (siblings)

Sidney Leslie Goodwin (9 September 1910 – 15 April 1912) was a 19-month-old English boy who died during the sinking of the RMS Titanic. His unidentified body was recovered by the Mackay-Bennett after the sinking, and for decades was referred to as The Unknown Child. His headstone read "Erected to the memory of an unknown child whose remains were recovered after the disaster to the Titanic April 15th 1912". In 2008, mitochondrial DNA testing by the Armed Forces lab revealed his identity. Baby Goodwin is the only member of his family whose body has been recovered and subsequently identified.

Early life[edit]

The Goodwin family. From left to right: William, Frederick, Charles, Lillian, Augusta, Jessie. At the centre is Harold. Sidney is not present.

Sidney was born on 9 September 1910 in Melksham, Wiltshire, England. He was the youngest child born to Frederick Joseph and Augusta (née Tyler) Goodwin. Sidney had five older siblings - Lillian, Charles, William, Jessie, and Harold.[1]

SS New York and RMS Titanic[edit]

Frederick's brother, Thomas, had already left England and was living in Niagara Falls, New York. Thomas wrote to Frederick, telling him about the opening of a power station there. It has been speculated that the famed Schoellkopf Hydroelectric Power Station (Station A), due to open in 1912, would have been his employer had he lived. Frederick, a compositor, packed up his wife and six children to prepare for the move. They booked third-class passage on the S.S. New York out of Southampton, but due to a coal strike that year the vessel's passage was delayed, and they were transferred to the RMS Titanic.[2] They boarded the Titanic in Southampton as third-class passengers.

Not much is known about the Goodwins' activities during the voyage, except that they may have been separated by sex in opposite ends of the ship, Frederick and his older sons in the bow, and Augusta with Sidney and the girls in the stern. Harold also met and spent some time with Frank Goldsmith, who survived.

By the time the Goodwins received a warning about the collision with the iceberg, all the lifeboats had been launched. The entire family perished in the sinking.

In his book, The Night Lives On, historian Walter Lord devoted a chapter ("What Happened to the Goodwins?") to the family, using the fact that they were English to challenge the White Star Line's implication that such high numbers of third-class passengers perished because they could not understand the English language.[3]

The unknown child[edit]

The grave of Sidney Goodwin in Fairview Cemetery, in the winter.

The body of a fair-haired toddler was the fourth pulled from the ocean by the recovery ship CS Mackay-Bennett, on 17 April 1912. The description read:

CLOTHING - Grey coat with fur on collar and cuffs; brown serge frock; petticoat; flannel garment; pink woolen singlet; brown shoes and stockings.
No marks whatever.

The sailors aboard the Mackay-Bennett, who were very shocked by the discovery of the unknown boy's body, paid for a monument, and he was buried on 4 May 1912 with a copper pendant placed in his coffin by recovery sailors that read "Our Babe".[5] Before 2002 (when he was first, though mistakenly, identified through DNA testing), he was known simply as "The Unknown Child". His body, identified as that of a child around two years old, was initially believed to be that of either a two-year-old Swedish boy, Gösta Pålsson; or a two-year-old Irish boy, Eugene Rice, two other fair-haired toddlers who perished in the sinking.[6]

The grave is usually covered with stuffed animals and children's toys.

Identification and re-identification[edit]

The American PBS television series Secrets of the Dead initially identified the body as Eino Viljami Panula, a 13-month-old Finnish baby, based on DNA testing of three teeth and a small, weathered bone.[7] However, with improved DNA testing available in 2007, Canadian researchers at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay tested the child's HVS1, a type of mitochondrial DNA molecule, and it did not match the Panula family.[8] DNA extracted from the exhumed remains and DNA provided by a surviving maternal relative helped positively match the remains to Sidney, and the re-identification was announced on 30 July 2007.[7][9]

Although the bodies of two other children, both older boys, were recovered, it was Sidney who came to be a symbol of all the children lost in the sinking. He is buried in Fairview Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a marker was recently added to the memorial with his name and dates of birth and death.[10] A pair of his shoes were donated to Halifax's Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in 2002 by the descendants of a Halifax police officer who guarded the bodies and clothing of Titanic victims.

Further reading[edit]

  • Geller, Judith B. (1998). Titanic: Women and Children First (1st ed.). W. W. Norton & Company. 


  1. ^ "Master Sidney Leslie Goodwin". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  2. ^ "Mr Frederick Joseph Goodwin". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  3. ^ Lord, Walter (March 1998). The Night Lives On (New ed.). Avon Books. 
  4. ^ "Description of recovered bodies". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved 2015-10-29. 
  5. ^ Holm, Brandon C. (9 March 2007). "RMS Titanic: The Funerals, Memorials and Legacy of the Lost Passengers and Her Crew". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  6. ^ Ruffman, Alan; Parr, Ryan (3 August 2002). "The Last of the Lost". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  7. ^ a b Thompson, Paul (1 August 2007). "Revealed by DNA after 95 years: The British baby who died on the Titanic". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
  8. ^ "Titanic baby given new identity". BBC News. 1 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  9. ^ "Researchers properly identify unknown child who died aboard Titanic". CBC. Canada. 
  10. ^ "People remember 'Unknown Child' that died from Titanic sinking". April 2012. 

External links[edit]