Dr Frederick Goodwin (1862-1897)

A receipt from Goodwin & Gaby Solicitors.A receipt from Goodwin & Gaby Solicitors

Frederick Goodwin, son of solicitor William H. Goodwin, was born near Shrewsbury on 5 October 1862 and moved to Hastings with his family in 1866. Sadly, however, Frederick Goodwin’s mother died shortly after the move. The 1871 England and Wales census shows young Frederick living with his father, two sisters, a cousin and a domestic servant ‘over the bank’ in Havelock Road.

According to his Hastings Observer obituary, Frederick Goodwin was educated at the City of London School under Dr Abbott, then in 1878 joined his father’s Hastings law firm, Young & Goodwin, where he was admitted as a solicitor in 1883.

While at the firm he continued his legal studies and matriculated at London University in 1879. He obtained a first LLB degree in January 1882, and was placed second in the Honours list. He passed the second LLB in January 1884, and in January 1886 was one of only two successful candidates within the United Kingdom for the Doctor of Laws degree. He also held the distinction of being the youngest by several years, and the first for some time to pass at the first attempt.

A man of many interests and talents, Frederick Goodwin also turned his hand to politics. He made his political debut as a Tory, but subsequently joined the Liberals. He stood as a Gladstonian Candidate for Bury St Edmunds at the 1886 election, but was defeated by Lord Francis Harvey.

In 1887 Goodwin published a book on Roman Law entitled The XII Tables, which was recently reissued by an online publisher. On 5 October that year Goodwin’s father died suddenly, and when the remaining partner’s son qualified as a solicitor, the firm Young and Goodwin became Young & Son.

Meanwhile Frederick Goodwin was running his own practice at Fenchurch Street, London under the title Latter & Goodwin, and in 1889 he opened his own Sussex firm at Memorial Buildings, Hastings. Today that firm is known as Gaby Hardwicke.

In 1892 Goodwin was joined in partnership at his Hastings firm by Ralph Gaby, a gifted young solicitor who had recently moved to the area from Chippenham. The partnership, entitled ‘Goodwin and Gaby’, was to be short-lived, however. A notice in The London Gazette (20 March 1894) provides details of its dissolution:

Notice is hereby given, that the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned, Frederick Goodwin and Ralph Hale Gaby, carrying on business as Solicitors, at Memorial-buildings, Hastings, under the style or firm of Goodwin and Gaby, has been dissolved, by mutual consent, as and from the 3rd day of March, 1894. All debts due to and owing by the said late firm will be received and paid by the said Ralph Hale Gaby.

Dated 17th day of March 1894.

Fred. Goodwin
Ralph H. Gaby

It seems the partnership ended due to the ill health of Dr Goodwin. Although he continued his London firm until 1896, Frederick Goodwin died on 5 February 1897 in Boulogne, France, aged just 34. The cause of death was recorded as heart disease. His Hastings Observer obituary noted:

Dr. Goodwin was an effective speaker, and an earnest political student. Though an ardent Democrat, he was an ardent opponent of Communism and Socialism. He believed in self-help rather than State aid. He was for some time on the Committee of the Rye Division Liberal Association… [He] was at one time connected with the Old Debating Society.

Dr Frederick Goodwin, the founder of Gaby Hardwicke Solicitors, would no doubt have been cheered to know that his firm would be flourishing more than a century after his death.

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