February 2020, AGM + guest speaker

Sunday 16 February 2020 – 2pm at the Meeting Room, Queen Victoria Museum at Inveresk

Mike McCausland, William Lushington Goodwin, controversial publisher of the Cornwall Chronicle


WL Goodwin had a colourful and varied career, with at least three distinct stages: seaman and ship’s captain, then a controversial Launceston newspaper proprietor and editor, and finally a responsible – perhaps almost respectable – public figure whose indiscretions were largely forgiven.

Goodwin claimed in the Cornwall Chronicle to be exposing corruption and abuse of power, but to many he was a turbulent, at times violent man given to using his editorial columns for bitter personal attacks upon those with prestige and authority.

This mismatch between stated principles and practice are repeated in the inconsistencies between accounts he gave of his achievements and the reality. This talk attempts to separate fact from claim in the light of evidence now available, acknowledging that there’s much more to be learned of this contradictory, but not wholly unattractive figure from Launceston’s past.


As a member of the community group Friends of the Launceston Mechanics’ Institute, Mike McCausland has been involved in the attempt to preserve and publicise the LMI’s library, collected between 1842 and 1945, and now recognised as of national significance. His interest in WL Goodwin was piqued by the Cornwall Chronicle’s barrage of invective against the fledgling Institute and its proponents.

Why was Goodwin so opposed to an attempt to create a resource that, in the absence of adult education and the scarcity of books, was clearly needed?

The records show out that Goodwin had written in favour of mechanics’ institutes from the earliest days of the Cornwall Chronicle in 1835, opposed the one that was established by popular accord in 1842, and then became, for a brief period in 1854-55, a member of its Board. It was such inconsistencies that inflamed debate and outrage among his contemporaries. What are we to make of them today? 

All welcome. Members free, visitors $4. Afternoon tea will be served. Raffle tickets, 3 for $2.