Bound for the Promised Land

"Bound for the Promised Land"

On Thursday February 13th 1998 an article appeared in the "Wiltshire Times" about the Goodwin Family and the research that local historian Janet Hollerhead had done into their story.

Thinking that the story would make a good subject for a song, Colin contacted Janet who gave him more information on the Goodwins and a copy of the front page of the "Daily Mirror" for Friday April 26th 1912 which had the family's photograph on the front page.

"The song is based around the standard saying of all children who are on a trip, "When will we be there?". They also were emigrating to one "Promised Land" but, we hope, ended their journey in another."

Colin also used the internet to continue the research into the family and came across an interesting anomaly. There are many passenger lists published on the internet and in some the father, Frederick Goodwin, is not listed but a Frederick Godwin is shown as a survivor. This is also the case on the third class passenger list published in the book "A Night to Remember" by Walter Lord.

Also, whilst researching into his own family history, Colin came across a Frederick Goodwin, born in the same year and in the same area of London as the Melksham family's Frederick. For a while there was the uncanny chance that Colin was actually related to the people he had written the song about. But it was not to be as Colin's Frederick Goodwin was the son of a coachman and died at the age of ten after drinking water from a horse trough during a typhoid epidemic. Colin did do some further research to see if the two Goodwin families were connected in any way but could find no evidence of a link.

We put the following on our website at the time:

"The research is continuing, even after the song has been finished, and if anybody has any information perhaps they'd let the band know. The band has presented Janet with the first copy of the special edition and both have agreed to let the other know of any new information".

never imagining that seven years later we'd be contacted by Carol Goroff and that the story would continue with the discovery of Sidney Goodwin!

See "The Goroffs"


On a sunny day in April we set out for the coast,
Heading for a new life to the land that promised most,
Oh Daddy, when will we be there?

There were eight in our family looking forward to the trip,
To sail across the ocean in a newly finished ship,
Oh Daddy, when will we be there?

A new found life in a new found land,
A fresh new start is what we’d planned,
We’re bound for the promised land.

There were nine in Llanelli there were two in Liverpool,
Anarchists in London what is it coming to?
Oh Daddy, when will we be there?

England seemed in turmoil we felt we could not stay,
Riots, strikes and unrest we had to get away,
Oh Daddy, when will we be there?

Taken from the "New York" for lack of coal
Transferred to the ship that had it all,
We’re bound for the promised land.

We were third class steerage in the belly of the ship,
With a neat little cabin for to stay in on our trip,
Oh Daddy, when will we be there?

Sailing from Southampton, the weather it was fine,
Had a near miss with the "New York", it seemed funny at the time,
Oh Daddy, when will we be there?

When the sun set down that fateful night,
We felt we almost caught a sight,
A sight of the promised land.

Some time before midnight a shudder through the hull,
Seemed to set a warning ringing, ringing in my skull
Oh Daddy, when will we be there?

Some say we hit an iceberg, we were never really sure,
They said, "Put on your life-belts", there was never any more.
Oh Daddy, when will we be there?

No one seemed prepared to stop and think,
There might be a chance this ship could sink,
They were bound for the promised land

There were shouts there were screams there was water in the hold,
There were locks on the gates you could feel the rising cold,
Oh Daddy, when will we be there?

There was fear there was panic there was bravery there was pain,
You could see it in the faces they’d not see dry land again,
Oh Daddy, when will we be there?

The water’s rising hear my plea,
Save my children and take me,
They’re bound for the promised land.

With no-one left to turn to, we were praying down below,
We boarded as a family, as a family we would go,
Oh Daddy, when will we be there?

©Sackful of Sovereigns March 1998.