We'd all like to know how the name Goodhind originated. Unfortunately, unlike many other well-documented English surnames, rich with historical significance, ours has no clear antecedent. Our cousin, DAVID GOODHIND of England, has provided us with this wonderful, philological perspective:

The word ‘hind’ is an archaic expression to describe generally, a peasant or farm labourer. However, in Old English and Middle English, especially in Scotland and the north of England, it had a more specific meaning, namely a farm servant having some skill and responsibility, such as the care and working of a pair of horses. He would have been married and provided with a cottage on the farm. The term could even be applied to someone with even greater responsibilities, for example a bailiff or a steward.

There is yet another derivation from the Old English words, ‘hine’ or ‘hina’ or ‘higna’, meaning a member or members of a family. The associated word, ‘hide’, signified a measure of land such as could support one free family. It was usually between sixty to one hundred and twenty acres, depending on the locality. The Old English words, ‘hid’, higid, ‘hiw’, ‘hig’, denote ‘household.1

There is evidence that Goodhinds were yeomen farmers who came to be the leading family in the town of Saltford in the county of Somerset, England during the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They were possibly related to the ‘Godhynes’ of fourteenth century Wiltshire.2

In this context, a ‘yeoman’ can be defined in two related ways. First as a person, qualified by possessing free land of forty shillings annual value, to serve on juries, or vote in elections, for example to select a ‘Knight of Shire.’ Secondly, as a small landowner or farmer or person of middle class, engaged in agriculture.3 Forty shillings, that is £2 sterling or about $2.80 is a tiny sum by today’s standards but in the middle- ages would have been a small fortune!

It may not be unreasonable to suppose that the modern surname of ‘Goodhind’ developed or emerged from a general term meaning a ‘good’, ‘reliable’ farm worker. This is supported by the evidence of the families’ occupations during the fifteenth to eighteenth century, together with a definite improvement in status and responsibility. However, the fact that the name seems to be concentrated, in early centuries, to one particular part of the West Country of England is intriguing.

They were not all farmers naturally, and certainly from the seventeenth through the eighteenth century, a number of identifiable Goodhinds have had occupations such as ‘Woolcomber’, ‘Wheelright’, ‘Publican’, ‘Constable’ and of course ‘Papermaker’. Just as society has changed and the needs for new skills and higher levels of education have emerged, the Goodhinds have responded and are up there playing their part. There are scientists, doctors, engineers, managers, teachers, writers, musicians and artists. Most of them make no great claim to fame but work hard and well in the best family tradition to make their contribution to the world and environment in which they live.

"Goodhind" is a good name and one to be proud of!

Many thanks, David, for this excellent, thought-provoking piece of scholarship!


1 Oxford Concise English Dictionary
2 Source: Wills, Notes and Pedigrees by S. Goulston. This Paper is in the library of the National Genealogical Society, London
3 Oxford Concise English Dictionary


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