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Sidney Leslie Goodwin

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Sidney Leslie Goodwin

Sidney Leslie Goodwin
Sidney Goodwin, circa 1911
Born Sidney Leslie Goodwin
9 September 1910
Melksham, Wiltshire, England
Died 15 April 1912(1912-04-15) (1 year, 225 days)
Atlantic Ocean
Known for The Unknown Child
Parents 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 after the sinking by the Mackay-Bennett, and for decades referred to as the unknown child; it was identified as his in 2008 by the Armed Forces lab. He is the only member of his family whose body has been recovered and subsequently identified.

Early life

The Goodwin family. From left to right: William, Frederick, Charles, Lillian, Augusta, Jessie. At the center 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 Goodwin and his wife Augusta (née Tyler). He had five older siblings named Lillian, Charles, William, Jessie, and Harold.[1]

RMS Titanic

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. He, 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 its passage was delayed and they were transferred to the 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 Goodwins, 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.

The unknown child

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:

The sailors aboard the Mackay-Bennett, who were very upset 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."[4] 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.[5]

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

Identification and re-identification

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. [6] 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.[7] DNA extracted from the exhumed remains and DNA provided by a surviving maternal relative helped positively match the remains to Sidney, and the reidentification was announced on 30 July 2007.[6]

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. 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.


  • Geller, Judith B. Titanic: Women and Children First. 1st ed. W. W. Norton & Company, 1998.
  • Lord, Walter. The Night Lives On. New ed. Avon Books, March 1998.


  1. ^ "Master Sidney Leslie Goodwin".  
  2. ^ "Mr Frederick Joseph Goodwin". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  3. ^ "Descriptions of Bodies Recovered after the Titanic Disaster (#1-110)". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Ruffman, Alan; Parr, Ryan (3 August 2002). "The Last of the Lost". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ "Titanic baby given new identity". BBC News. 1 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 

External links

  • Encyclopedia Titanica: Master Sidney Leslie Goodwin
  • Titanic Passengers: The Goodwins
  • Shoes of the Unknown Child
  • The Grave Of The Unknown Child
  • Researchers properly identify unknown child who died aboard Titanic
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