|Photograph by Dicky King|
The Rev Goodwin was 37 and married, He and his wife Ellen were originally from Leek. In St. Mary's parish, there lived a glass-cutter named Henry Standishstreet, with his wife Mary-Ellen and their four children. Henry, to rise in his trade, needed to improve his numbers and the Rev. Mr. Goodwin had been working with him and, as a result, he spent a lot of time in the Standishstreet home. The clergyman was greatly troubled when a friend came to him to report that Mrs. Standishstreet had been spreading the tale that she and the Rev. Goodwin were carrying on something like a torrid love affair.
Confronted, Henry Standishstreet was profusely apologetic; he simply could not control his wife's tongue. He would publish an apology in the Manchester papers. But no advertisement ever appeared and the Standishstreet family abruptly left Moston. In their absence, the Rev. Goodwin was left to file a slander suit against Mary Ellen Standishstreet.
The case was heard before a special jury at the Liverpool Assizes. Several Moston residents, men and women, related the stories they had been told by Mrs. Standishstreet. She had claimed that first, upon a chance meeting in a country lane, Mr. Goodwin took indecent liberties with her. He begged to be allowed to come to her. The very next day, under the cover of his "tutoring," when her husband was at work and the children were playing below, he called and they went up to the bedroom and committed adultery. A neighbour, John Sykes, a clerk, told the court that Mrs. Standsishtreet began keeping an almanack marked with "ticks" on each day she'd supposedly made love with Mr. Goodwin and, the witness admitted, the markings were numerous. Why would she be saying all this if it wasn't true? Sykes testified that Mrs. Standishtreet had developed an intense dislike of Mrs. Goodwin and her supposed "airs." The vicar's wife was a "proud, stuck up woman" who needed to be brought down and she would be the one to do it.
The Rev. Goodwin took the stand to deny, of course, all the claims made by his absent accuser. He acknowledged that Mrs. Standishtreet had been "spitefully disposed" to his wife for reasons he never quite understood. Because of her false charges, however, he had lost the opportunity for advancement in his clerical career. Mr. Justice Lush denounced the missing defendant, describing the case as among the "most damaging and diabolical slanders" that ever came before him. Though there was no chance that Goodwin would ever see a single farthing, the jury awarded him the hefty sum of £1000 in damages.
Mr. Goodwin's career survived the scandal. The following year, the Bishop of Manchester presented him with the rectory and parish church of All Souls, Manchester. As for the Standishstreets, they can be traced to America, where he found employment in the glass business - with or without any better handle on his sums - in Cambridge near Boston, Massachusetts.
Please consider Clerical Errors, A Victorian Series, Vol. 2.