Unknown Child on the Titanic – Part IV (Conclusion)

1901 Census Frederick and Augusta Goodwin Middlesex, Edmonton

When AFDIL attempted an identification through Y-DNA, I was asked by my colleague Dr. Odile Loreille to find a Y-DNA reference for Sidney Goodwin.  We were just finishing up the identification of The Hand in the Snow, so she knew I was available for a new project. Of course, my first step was to search Ancestry.com to obtain information about the Goodwin genealogy.  I immediately found Sidney’s parents Frederick and Augusta in 1901 living in Middlesex with their four oldest children Lillian (5), Charles (4), William (2), and Jessie (1).  Frederick was listed as a print compositer. 

1891 Census Charles Goodwin and Family, London. His son Thomas had alread left for America.

Because Frederick and his sons perished on the Titanic, to find a Y-reference for the family I researched Frederick’s three brothers to see if they had any living male descendants.  Frederick’s older brother Thomas (b. 1869), emigrated to Niagara Falls, NY in the mid 1880’s.  It was on Thomas’ suggestion that Frederick had decided to move with his family to the United States to work at a new power station opening in 1912.  Unfortunately, Thomas only had two daughters. 

Frederick had two other brothers, Sidney, who was mentally retarded, and Frank, who never married. 

Since there were no living males descending from Frederick’s brothers, I researched Frederick’s paternal uncles for surviving male lines.  Frederick’s father Charles had several brothers, including Samuel, b. 1838. 

1861 Census Thomas Goodwin and Family. His son Samuel (b 1838) had already left home

I was surprised to find a website dedicated to Samuel Goodwin and his family. The site had been posted by a genealogist named Mary from the Netherlands, who had taken an interest in the Goodwin family story.  Mary was kind enough to put me in contact with Carol Goodwin, the matriarch of the Goodwin family, whose grandmother had been the sister of Frederick Goodwin.  Carol had been working on a book Titanic’s Unknown Child about the Titanic Goodwins, and provided me with much valuable genealogical information about the family that was useful for tracing a family reference. 

Carol Goodwin, Author of Titanic's Unknown Child

Mary told me that about ten years ago, she had been in touch with a Graeme Goodwin in Australia who was the grandson or the great grandson of Samuel Goodwin of the Titanic family, but she had lost contact with him after he changed his email address.  Fortunately, she was able to remember his middle initial and that he lived in Queensland with his sister.  This provided me with enough information to locate him.  There were only two G. A. Goodwins in the Queensland telephone directory, and he was the second one I called.  He confirmed that he was the Graeme Goodwin whose family members had been lost in the Titanic and who had been in touch with Mary years earlier.  Graeme was delighted to be back in contact with his extended family.

Photo of Samuel Goodwin, his wife and family from Christchurch, NZ

Graeme had a photograph of Samuel Goodwin and his family that was published in the newspaper in 1908 on the occasion of Samuel’s 50th wedding anniversary.  The caption said the family lived in Christchurch, NZ.  Graeme told me that Samuel had originally immigrated to New Zealand, but that his own branch of the family had moved to Australia more recently.  Samuel’s picture helped me locate a second Goodwin living in Dunedin, NZ as a backup.  Because there is a chance of an unrecorded adoption, name change, or illegitimacy in a family, it’s good to have two DNA references for an identification.

Meanwhile back at AFDIL, Dr. Rebecca Just, Dr. Odile Loreille and their team of researchers made an attempt to distinguish the two children using the mtDNA coding region, since analysis of the HVR1 and HVR2 control regions had failed. They used two commercially available SNP assays that had proven useful in differentiating HV haplotypes.  Yet the coding region results of the Panula and Goodwin families references were identical.  

As a last hope, the team used a more targeted approach, studying 92 published mtDNA genomes with the HV haplotype, searching for regions that had high levels of inter-individual variation. They discovered a region bounded by positions 8,164 and 11,160 that had not been covered by the two standard SNP assays.  In this region, they discovered a rare mutation at position 9923 that the Goodwin reference had, but that the Panula reference lacked. 

Sidney Leslie Goodwin, the Unknown Child on the Titanic

The remains also exhibited this rare mutation.  The tie was finally broken.  The Goodwin reference matched the remains in HVR1, HVR2, and in the coding region.  The Panula reference had one mismatch in HVR2, and a second mismatch in the coding region at position 9923, giving the two differences required by forensic guidelines for a rule-out.  After 90 years, the Unknown Child on the Titanic finally had a name.  He was Sidney Leslie Goodwin.


In August 2008, led by matriarch Carol Goodwin, the Goodwin family met in Halifax for a memorial service to honor Sidney and the other 52 children who died on the Titanic.  Goodwin family members came from California, Wisconsin, New York, and England to attend the ceremony.  I was invited to attend as I had been made an honorary member of the family.  

Sidney’s memorial service was held at St. George’s Anglican Church, where the Unknown Child’s funeral had taken place in 1912.  The family assembled at Sidney’s grave in Fairview Lawn Cemetery, where the service was continued. A bell was rung as the name of  each child who died was read by members of the family. 

The Goodwins at Sidney's Memorial, August 2008

As an honorary Goodwin, I was privileged to hold Sidney's shoes.

Our Goodwins also visited the Martime Museum of the Atlantic, where one by one each of us was allowed to hold the tiny shoes that had provided the key to reversing what could have been a serious historical error that would have gone tragically uncorrected. 


In 1911-1912, a pair of small brown shoes was manufactured somewhere in England. It made its way to a retail shop where Augusta Goodwin bought them for her baby son Sidney to wear on the family’s journey across the Atlantic where her husband Frederick had the promise of a new job in America. 

Sidney would die wearing those shoes a few short months later, along with Augusta, Frederick, and their other five children:  Lillian (16), Charles (14), William (11), Jessie (10), and Harold (9) , victims of the worst maritime disaster in history.  They might not have perished if the politics of the times had been different.  The family had booked third class passage on a small steamer out of Southampton, but due to the coal strike that year, the voyage was cancelled and the family was transferred to the Titanic.

Ninety years later, the ordinary little shoes that Sidney wore the night he died would become an extraordinary key to one of the most compelling stories of human identification.

Yet even more important than his shoes, was the blueprint Sidney carried in each cell of his body that defined who he was-the blueprint called DNA.  It would take decades before DNA identification would be discovered, even as Sidney’s remains were dissolving into the soil where he was laid to rest in 1912. It would take even more years for DNA analysis to mature into a sophisticated science that had a chance of identifying Sidney’s remains, and by that time only crowns of three of his milk teeth and a small bone shard would be left.  And even as the small amount of DNA that could be extracted from one of those crowns and from the bone was consumed in multiple rounds of testing, it would take the stubborn persistance of ancient DNA specialists and scores of genealogists from around the world to finally identify him based on only one picogram of DNA – about the amount of DNA present in only a single cell of his body. 

And now, even that is gone.

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV (Conclusion)


About identifinders

Rocket Scientist turned world class Forensic Genealogist.
This entry was posted in Historical Identifications and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Unknown Child on the Titanic – Part IV (Conclusion)

  1. Pingback: Unknown Child on the Titanic – Part IV (Conclusion …

  2. Pingback: Unknown Child on the Titanic – Part III | Identifinders' Blog

  3. Pingback: Unknown Child on the Titanic – Part I | Identifinders' Blog

  4. Pingback: Unknown Child on the Titanic – Part II | Identifinders' Blog

  5. Graeme Murray Walter Goodwin says:

    I am related to the Goodwin’s in the photo from the christchurch NZ. My Great grand father Sydney was brother of Samual Goodwin in the Photo. I find this most interesting.

    • Dear Graeme, Thanks for writing in. We are excited to hear from another member of the Goodwin family. The name Greame seems to be a favorite of the Goodwin family, as I have come across two Graeme Goodwins in your generation. The matriarch of the Goodwin family, Carol Goodwin will be thrilled to meet you. I will pass on your email address to her and have her contact you directly. We have a lot of information about your family. Colleen

    • Ellen Taylor says:

      Dear Graeme,

      I am also related to the Goodwin’s in the photo – as Samuel and Mary Jane are my GGGrandparents. I am a descendant of William George Thomas Goodwin who left NZ for Melbourne. Having recently provided photos and diary (which was handwritten by WGTGoodwin) to Carol Goodwin and others via email. I am on facebook should you wish to contact me-

      • Graeme Murray Walter Goodwin says:

        lot of Ellen Taylors on FB which one are you. Graeme Goodwin NZ

  6. david says:

    hello my name is david goodwin i live in ireland and came across the picture at the 100th anniversary memorial in southhampton i would like to find out if im related how would i go about this

    • Hi David,

      Always glad to hear from a new Goodwin. If you want to find out if you are related, I can make a couple of suggestions First, if you write me through my email address colleen at identifindesr.com, I will give you Carol Goodwin’s contact information. The DNA testing we did on the child was through the military laboratory. So you’d have to go through companies that specialize in DNA testing for genetic genealogy. I can suggest how to do this if you write me directly. I don’t know if any of the other Goodwins have tested this way, but you could ask Carol.

      Glad to help!


  7. Graeme Goodwin says:

    , Graeme Murray Walter Goodwin here from New Zealand. I would like to help nut out the relationships better with regards to the decedents. I know where Samuel is buried, and the family history of Florence the witness to Frederica and Augusta weedings, and the relations to Graeme Goodwin in Australia. Happy to speak with Carol and Mary.

    • Hi Graeme,

      I believe we were in touch back during the efforts to identify the child. I am sure Carol Goodwin will be happy to hear from you. Not too long ago, we finally discovered what happened to George Goodwin, Samuel’s brother. If you write to me directly through my email at colleen at identifinders.com, I can give you Carol’s contact info. She is the epicenter of Goodwin research, and she can put you in touch with the rest of the family. I can also give you Graeme Goodwin from Australia’s email address. In fact, he stayed with us a couple of months ago while he was passing through Southern California. Quite a nice guy.


  8. Graeme Murray Walter Goodwin says:

    Hi, Amazingly good work. Want to correct a small mistake on the comment I made on November 21 2010. Stan was my father, then Walter his, then Samuel B1838. Sydney was actually Walters brother not Sameu’ls.
    I actually have a basic family tree back to 1740 including Frederic’s cosin Florence whom I understand went back to England from NZ, and possible was the witness at the Fredric’s and Augusta’s wedding, she would have been 16.
    I was a bit of sceptic but with the match to Graeme Goodwin’s reference i am convinced. Might explain the large picture of the Titanic that hangs out in the shed on the family farm.

  9. Kimberly La Rae Ayers says:

    Hi I am related to Frederick Goodwin. A member of my family Tony Goodwin, gave me wind of this a few years back. We are from Hemet, CA but earlier generations like my Great Grandmother Rella married a Goodwin in Oklahoma and moved out to California during the goldrush. They had I believe 10 children, my Grandmother Bess Goodwin being one. My Name is Kim Ayers & I currently live in Texas. I would love to find out more. Thank you.

    • Hi Kimberly,

      I will be glad to put you in touch with Carol Goodwin, the matriarch of the Goodwin Clan. I will pass on your email address to her. She is just finishing the book on the identification of Sidney Goodwin. I spoke to her yesterday.


  10. Hello Me and my husband met your husband in the laundry room on the 100 year old Titanic Memorial Cruise and he gave us your card. We are very interested in getting your book and even maybe getting it signed? my husband is Roger Pennington and I am Debbie Pennington .

    • Hi Debbie,

      Actually you want to contact Carol Goodwin. She is the matriarch of the Goodwin family, and also the author of the book about the Unknown Child. I will send you her email privately. I am sure she will be happy to hear from you.


  11. Amanda Suffolk says:


    My great- great grandpa was Arthur Lawrence Goodwin married to Mabel Goodwin. Arthur’s father was Joseph Richard Goodwin. We were told by Arthur’s daughter Ivy Mabel Goodwin that we had relatives that died on the Titanic. We are just inquiring to find out if we are related to this Goodwin Family. Please put us in contact with Carol.


    • Hi Amanda,

      I will be glad to. I will write you directly and give you Carol’s email address. Her book on the family has just been published. She would know how to connect you in better than anyone else.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s