The story of the Goodridge family reflects the changing nature of Bath society. As the eighteenth century came to a close and the nineteenth century flourished, the fashionable elite visiting Bath for just for a season were replaced by an emerging middle class.
Francis, or Frank to his family, was born on September 7th 1830 at ‘Montebello’ (now ‘Bathwick Grange’) an Italianate villa on Bathwick Hill designed by his architect father, Henry Edmund Goodridge (1797-1864). H. E. Goodridge designed numerous buildings in Bath including William Beckford’s famous folly, Beckford Tower, on Lansdown Hill. Frank’s mother was Matilda Yockney, the daughter of Samuel Yockney, a Bath tea dealer.
His grandfather, James Goodridge, was a self-made man who worked his way up from being a builder to a Gentleman property owner and who established the family’s position in Bath. Through clever speculative development as well as being an agent for the Pulteney family the owners of the Bathwick estate, James established a comfortable fortune that allowed his sons to carve places for themselves in Bath’s respectable professional class. The rise of his family’s prospects under James also centred them firmly in Bathwick, as they owned, lived in and worked in various properties on the estate.
Frank was baptised at the Argyle Independent Chapel, Argyle Street, Bath (now the Central United Reformed Church) in 1832. The family connection to the chapel was that Frank’s father had been commissioned to design a substantial extension to the original C18th chapel in 1821. His maternal grandfather Samuel was also a worshiper there and had been on the Chapel Improvement Committee in 1821. So Frank was a Non-Conformist.
He had three brothers : Henry (b1823), a doctor; Edmund (b1825), a Captain in the British Army in India who eventually emigrated to Canada; and Alfred (b1827), another architect (A S Goodridge) who designed the Non-Conformist chapel in Smallcombe near Frank’s grave. A younger sister, Matilda, died aged 13.
The 1851 census shows the 21-year-old Frank as an ‘Assistant Clerk’. He was still living at home and in 1845 he had moved with his parents from Montebello to a new Italianate villa just down Bathwick Hill also designed by his father. It was named Fiesole, after the town overlooking Florence, and is now the home of the Bath Youth Hostel. It is highly likely he was working for his uncle, James Francis Goodridge, a solicitor whose offices were located at 7 Henrietta Street, a property also shared by the Goodridge & Son firm of architects.
Frank left home in August 1852. He sailed from Liverpool on the inaugural voyage to Australia of Brunel’s steamship SS Great Britain. The ship was taking 630 passengers, mostly young single men, to Melbourne in response to the news of the goldrush in Victoria. Like most of the passengers on that voyage, instead of heading for the goldfields he realised that more reliable wealth could be made in Melbourne itself. The city was flooded with money, and young men had no ‘old guard’ to push out of the way. Many of the SS Great Britain’s passengers were to become highly successful businessmen and merchants, civil servants and lawyers, and as a group were hugely influential in the early development of both Melbourne and wider Victoria. Frank’s fellow passengers included two future Mayors of Melbourne, and the police officer who would eventually arrest Ned Kelly.
On his arrival in Melbourne in November 1852, Frank immediately went into business with Frederick Mansford and John Stovin, fellow passengers from the Great Britain. Advertisements in the Melbourne newspapers in December 1852 reveal that they had rented premises in Flinders Lane near the wharfside in central Melbourne, an area where many other passengers had also set up fledgling merchant businesses, importing everything that the rapidly expanding colony needed. Within a few months the business had moved to Queens Street and ‘Messers Stovin, Mansford and Goodridge’ were importing ‘Tea, Crystallised Sugar, Port and Sherry Wine in Cases, Pickles, Sauces, Sardines, Fruits and Cigars’ – a similarly eclectic mix of goods being imported by many other Melbourne merchant houses at the time. Frederick Mansford, the son of a Bath surgeon, seems likely to have known Frank before the voyage, and John Stovin, a married man from Northampton who had previously worked as a Merchant, would have supplied the necessary commercial business knowledge to the new enterprise.
However, within two years a few changes had taken place. Stovin had returned to England leaving ‘Messers Mansford and Goodridge’ to carry on the business by themselves and, in 1854, an announcement appeared in the Melbourne newspapers: On the 23rd of May, at Christ Church, St Pancras, London, Frank William Goodridge, Esq., of Melbourne, to Leonora Elizabeth, only child of the late George Hutchings, Esq., Bengal Army. Frank had returned home to England to get married, presumably anticipating taking his bride back to a secure future in Australia. Leonora was the 23-year-old Bengal-born daughter of a British Army officer killed in India in 1840. Frank’s brother Edmund, a Captain in the Bengal Artillery, had returned to England in early 1851. It’s possible that he introduced Frank to Leonora before Frank had left for Australia.
Within a year, the couple had returned to Melbourne and started a family. Their first child, Frederick Hutchings Goodridge was born in May 1855 in Richmond, Melbourne. Surprisingly the young Frederick was baptised back in London the following year, his father being described as a Merchant ‘of Bath, Somerset’. This ‘voyaging’ might seem surprising, yet this back-and-forth across the world was common – Victorians were much more ‘global travellers’ than we might now assume and the lives of many other SS Great Britain passengers followed a similar pattern of mobility.
By 1856 it appears that Frank’s business partnership with Mansford was at an end and that the Goodridge family had left metropolitan Melbourne. A legal notice establishes Frank in business at Beechworth, a goldmining community in Victoria’s north-east, in partnership with Charles Acres, another ex-SS Great Britain passenger, as ‘storekeepers’ in a goldfield area known as China’s Flat. However, their store, ‘composed of sawn timber and calico roof ’, and its ironmongery stock, was sold off at auction in April 1857, so it seems likely that this business was not a successful one.
At this point Frank appears to have moved to the neighbouring colony of New South Wales where in 1858 he was listed in the Government Gazette as running a Wines & Spirits merchants in the rural town of Goulborn, NSW. This may have been a slight exaggeration on Frank’s part as in newspaper advertisments he described his business as an ‘Ale and Porters Store, next to Goulburn Hospital’. At the same time ‘Mrs Goodridge’ was offering dancing lessons for 12 shillings a month from their home in Sloane Street, suggesting the family may have been struggling financially. Even worse, two baby daughters died in 1858 and 1859 and their second son, George Hutchings Goodridge, born in Goulburn in 1859 died as an infant early in 1860.
At this point Frank’s business life in Australia also began seriously to unravel. Despite the birth and survival of another daughter (Leonora Matilda Goodridge) in Goulbourn in 1861, it is clear from several Goulbourn newspaper reports of claims for unpaid wages and other matters that the Goodridge beer-shop business was failing.
Exactly when Frank and his family finally returned to England and to the family home in Bath is not known. However, a further and fourth daughter Ella Florence Goodridge was born in Axminster in 1863. Unbelievably, she too died aged only 7 months and is buried here in Smallcombe with her father.
Frank’s own health was so fragile by October 1863 that his father, Henry Goodridge, made a codicil to his will, describing ‘My Dear Son Frank’s health being so impaired as to prevent the possibility of his acting as an executor with his brothers’. His father instructed that should Frank die, his wife, Leonora, was to receive £1000 life insurance and an annual annuity of £100 while she remained a widow.
Frank died of Pulmonary TB at the Goodridge family home, Fiesole, on 19th of August 1864, a year after his baby daughter, aged only 33.
However, two months after his son died, and only days before he himself died, Henry Goodridge added a further codicil in October 1864 that reveals much about what he thought of Frank’s widow. He accuses her of ‘disrespectful conduct’ and revokes the £100 annuity originally set up for her due to ‘the losses I had sustained, the expense I had incurred and the want of devout respect to a father-in-law while under his roof’. These are the words of a dying father, still mourning the loss of his youngest son, compelled to ‘manifest my displeasure toward conduct so unbecoming and ungrateful’.
Frank is buried in the Non-Conformist section of Smallcombe Cemetery, in the same grave as baby Ella, on rising ground behind the chapel designed by his brother Alfred. Probate records shows that Frank left less than £200 in his will.
His father died in October the same year and his and all the other family graves are in the grounds of Beckford Tower on Lansdown Hill. Why Frank is not with them is a mystery. However, Smallcombe Vale can be seen from the towers of both the house he grew up in and the one he died in, so it was perhaps an often visited retreat - for Frank and for the family who mourned him after his death.
Frank’s widow Leonora remarried in Bath in 1869 an Australian born clergyman David Ramsey Paramore, 6 years her junior, and in 1871 they were living in the Rectory in Codford St Mary in Wiltshire along with the two surviving Goodridge children, Frederick and Leonora. Her second husband died in 1873 leaving Leonora once more a widow. She died in Falmouth, Cornwall in 1891.
Frank’s son Frederick also died young in 1879, in Ventnor, Isle of Wight, aged 22. He also died of Pulmonary TB and according to his death certificate he had been ill for the previous two years. Sea-air and rest was the only perceived cure for TB at the time, hence his move to Ventnor. Frank’s daughter Leonora married Charles St Leger Brockman, the merchant son of a Suffolk vicar and related to the Australian Drake-Brockman family. She died childless in Richmond, Surrey in 1927.
Like most of his offspring Frank Goodridge’s life was cut short. A brief glance through official records sees him as a 21 year old Assistant Clerk in 1851 and dead by 1864. However, this brevity disguises the unexpected adventure that he, and many other young men like him, had in the mid-1800s in colonial Australia.
Architect and scion of a family synonymous with the design and building of Bath.