Charles Wycliffe Goodwin

Charles Wycliffe Goodwin (1817–1878) was a British Egyptologist, bible scholar, lawyer and judge. His last judicial position was as Acting Chief Judge of the British Supreme Court for China and Japan.

Early life

Goodwin was born in 1817 in King's Lynn, Norfolk. He studied at St Catharine's College, Cambridge and graduated, in 1838, 6th Classic and senior optime in Mathematics. He became a fellow of the College. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1843. He lost is fellowship of St Catharine's in 1847.

Academic Interests

Goodwin contributed to the publications of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society and in 1860 wrote one of the articles in Essays and Reviews, to which he was the only lay contributor, writing alongside such great theologians as Rowland Williams and Henry Bristow Wilson.

In a speech, "The Growth and Nature of Egyptology: an inaugural lecture" by Stephen Ranulph Kingdon Glanville,[1] Glanville said of Goodwin:

"By the time Goodwin left Cambridge, he was a first class Greek scholar, an accomplished Hebraist, and an authority on Anglo-Saxon with valuable editions of new texts to his credit. He also had a considerably knowledge of natural history, especially geology. In London, where his practice was not large, he wrote music and art criticism; was for a time editor of Literary Gazette; was the only layman among the seven contributors to the much talked of Essays and Reviews (1860); and, because of his Greek and Hebrew scholarship, was frequently consulted by the Revisers of the New Testament. But throughout his life, his main interest, begun when he was at school was in the elucidation of Ancient Egyptian and Coptic texts, more especially those Egyptian texts written in the cursive script called hieratic.

In London, he spent much of his time in the British Museum, copying papyri. He was in close touch with Samuel Birch, then Keeper of the Oriental Department and was constantly exchanging information by correspondence with other leading Egyptologists of his day."

Appointment as Judge in China and Japan

Goodwin was appointed Assistant Judge of the British Supreme Court for China and Japan in 1865 on the founding of the court. Sir Edmund Hornby was appointed the Chief Judge. The British Supreme Court for China and Japan exercised jurisdiction over British Subjects in China and Japan pursuant to extraterritorial rights granted under treaties with China and Japan. The Court was also an appellate court from British consular courts in China and Japan.

Goodwin served as assistant judge to Sir Edmund Hornby. Goodwin was based in Shanghai until 1874. In that year he moved to Yokohama where he was based until early 1877 when he returned to Shanghai. Goodwin became Acting Chief Judge in 1876 after Edmund Hornby retired.[2]


Goodwin died in Shanghai in 1878. He was buried in the Shanghai Cemetery in Shanghai. The Shanghai Cemetery was later renamed the Pahsienjao Cemetery (八仙桥公墓). It is now Huaihai Park (淮海公園).[3]

A bust of Goodwin was placed as part of the memorial to Auguste-Edouard Mariette at Cairo Museum.



Further reading


  1. Published by Cambridge University Press
  2. Foreign Office List 1878, p103
  3. North China Herald, 24 Jan 1878 pp81-2
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