Cardonell 'Scum' Goodman

Definition

Theater

  • (1649 - 99) English actor and adventurer, whose exploits made him one of the most notorious rogues of his era. The son of a clergyman, Goodman first went on the stage after being sent down from Cambridge. He is said to have acquired his unsavoury nickname as a boy. As an actor, he is mainly remembered for stabbing a fellow actor named Griffin in a sword fight. Apparently, the two men were so poor that they had only one decent shirt between them; the altercation erupted when Goodman, who had a date with a mistress, insisted on wearing it out of turn. By the mid 1770s he had become the lover of the Duchess of Cleveland, a discarded mistress of Charles II, apparently sharing her favourswith playwright William Wycherley. After the Duchess gave birthto his son, Goodman conspired to poison her sons by Charles, a crime for which he was merely fined. In a desperate attempt to solve his cash-flow problems 'Scum' then turned highwayman but was immediately caught, only escaping the gallows through the clemency of James II.

    Goodman's villainies took a more serious turn after the Glorious Revolution, when he became involved in a dangerous plot to murder William III and restore the Stuarts. When the plot's ringleader, Sir John Fenwick, was arrested but evidence against him seemed lacking, sympathizers took the precaution of offering Goodman a large bribe to keep quiet. Characteristically, 'Scum' pocketed the bribe and promptly offered to testify against Fenwick. Determined to take no further chances, Fenwick's family arranged for Goodman to be abducted and rowed across the English Channel with a knife held to his throat all the way. He died in Paris.

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