GOODWIN, Ralph (-d.1658), of Ludlow Castle, Salop.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.) - 5 Feb. 1644
1644 (Oxf. Parl.)

Family and Education

s. of Ralph Goodwin of ?Bristol, Glos. m. (1) Dorothy (bur. 9 Aug. 1643), da. of Walter Long I* of Wraxhall, Wilts., s.p.; (2) 1646 (with £3,000?), Elizabeth, da. of Walter Brabazon of Eaton in Leominster, Herefs., s.p. d. 1 May 1658.1 sig. Ralph Goodwin.

Offices Held

Sec. to ld. pres. Northampton by 1624-30, to Prince Rupert 1644-5.2

Freeman, Ludlow, Salop 1624, common cllr. 1634-d.;3 commr. subsidy, Ludlow 1641, Poll Tax 1641, assessment, Salop 1642.4

Examiner (jt.), Marches Court 1626-8, dep. sec., Council in the Marches 1628-45.5


Goodwin’s background is obscure; his father probably came from Bristol, and was perhaps muster master of Shropshire in 1621. A casual comment by Lady Brilliana Harley suggests that Goodwin was a relation, though perhaps only by marriage. It is also possible that he was the man who proceeded from a BA at Cambridge in 1611 to an MA at Oxford four years later.6 He arrived at Ludlow as secretary to lord president Northampton, whose death he likened in 1630 to the loss of a father, and at his return to Parliament in 1624 he took over the seat previously held by Northampton’s son Spencer, Lord Compton. In the following year he was appointed examiner to the Council jointly with Sampson Eure*.7

Goodwin’s parliamentary activity is difficult to reconstruct because of the existence of one or more namesakes in every session bar 1625, when he left no trace on the surviving records of debates. However, his known interests make it likely that he was the man nominated to committees for Lord Dutton’s jointure bill (7 May 1628) and the bill to inhibit the purchase of judicial office (23 Apr. 1628), while in the following session he was presumably one of the two Goodwins named to a committee appointed to investigate an allegation of malpractice in the duchy of Lancaster court (7, 20 Feb. 1629). His only undoubted contribution to debate was a lengthy speech opposing the bill to remove the Marcher shires from the jurisdiction of the Council at Ludlow on 19 May 1628:

In Westminster a man be gone thrice to the West Indies before their [sic] suits be determined: nay, a man may grow old and his suits but young. The tenth part of expenses in any courts here shall end a suit there [at Ludlow]. The benefit hereof will come but to some particular men who happily have practice at Westminster.

In a House packed with metropolitan lawyers this carefully prepared speech was unlikely to make any headway, and Goodwin’s opposition to the body of the bill meant that he was the only speaker not named to the committee, although he was entitled to attend as a burgess for a Marcher shire.8

Goodwin’s career benefited from the untimely demise of the 1st Lord Brooke (Sir Fulke Greville*) in October 1628; the latter had held the sinecure post of secretary of the Marches, worth £2,000 a year, but his servants at Ludlow had been notorious for corrupt practices, as Goodwin was only too happy to retail to Brooke’s successor, Sir Adam Newton. Having handled the paperwork for Newton’s appointment both at London and Ludlow, he was installed as deputy secretary, in which capacity he continued to serve until the Civil War.9 His income sufficed to earn him matches with two local gentry families - it was said that his second wife brought him a dowry of £3,000 - and by the time of the Civil War he was alleged to have acquired estates in the vicinity of Ludlow worth £300 a year.10

A member of the Ludlow corporation from 1634, Goodwin represented the borough again in the Short and Long Parliaments, but had returned home by the summer of 1643 and was deprived of his seat on 5 Feb. 1644 for attending the rival Parliament summoned to Oxford by the king. He subsequently obtained a position as secretary to Prince Rupert, whom he was said to have served at the second siege of Bristol in 1645, and was almost certainly the ‘Ralph Goodwin esq.’ who surrendered at Worcester in July 1646. Despite the best efforts of sequestration officials, his claim to have passed the war quietly at Ludlow earned him a derisory composition fine of £412.11 He retained his seat on the Ludlow corporation, although he did not attend its proceedings again until December 1657, a renewal of interest which hints at approval of the Humble Petition and Advice. He died on 1 May 1658, and his widow secured administration of his estate three months later. His estates escheated to the Crown after her death, and in 1669 his first wife’s nephew Somerset Fox† petitioned the Crown for recognition as heir.12

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), vii. 24-5; Ludlow (Salop par. reg. soc. xiii), 420; CCAM, 703-4.
  • 2. Coventry Archives, BA/H/C/20/2, p. 230; CCAM, 703-4.
  • 3. Salop RO, LB2/1/1, ff. 142, 187v; LB2/1/2, pp. 143-4.
  • 4. SR, v. 88, 107, 155.
  • 5. C66/2357/12; Eg. 2882, ff. 145, 151.
  • 6. Al. Cant.; Al. Ox.; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), vii. 24-5; Letters of Lady Brilliana Harley ed. T.T. Lewis (Cam. Soc. lviii), 93.
  • 7. CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 495; C66/2357/12.
  • 8. CD 1628, iii. 44, 300-1, 464, 473; CJ, i. 927, 931b.
  • 9. T. Birch, Ct. and Times Chas. I, i. 410; HMC 12th Rep. iv. 274, 276; Harl. 7000, ff. 215-17, 240-52.
  • 10. CCAM, 703-4.
  • 11. Letters of Lady Brilliana Harley ed. Lewis, 202; CJ, iii. 389b; CSP Dom. 1645-7, p. 456; CCC, 1474-5; CCAM, 703-4.
  • 12. Salop RO, LB2/1/2, p. 140; PROB 6/34, f. 217; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), vii. 24-5.