Select Hodgson Surname Genealogy

Hodge, Hodgson and its dimunitive Hodgkinson are generally considered as being all pet forms of Roger, a name introduced to England by the Normans after the Conquest.  It was said that some of the native English could not get their mouth around the Norman "R" and "R" became "H" or "D" instead.

However, an alternative theory of Hodgson origins and perhaps a more persuasive one ties Hodgson to the Norse name Oddgeir or Hodgeir.  Historically the Hodgson name was most common in the north of England in Cumbria, an area settled by Norse Vikings in the 10th century.  The Hodgson DNA project does seem to confirm an Irish-Norse origin.

Both Hodgson and Hodson exist as surnames.  Hodson as a name was mainly to be found south of Hodgson, in Lancashire, the West Midlands, and Lincolnshire.

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Select Hodgson Ancestry

EnglandThe first record of a Hodgson in England was that of John Hodgson, bailiff in Newcastle in 1276, who later served as its mayor.  However, beyond his son Richard there was no further trace of these Hodgsons.  It is thought that the Hodgsons of Hebburn in county Durham, a mine-owning Catholic family who date from the 16th century, were descended from this line.  This family shared a Hodgson coat of arms with other Hodgson families in northern England.

NW England.  Hodgson as a surname was mainly to be found in NW England.  It ranked fifth in the most common surnames in Cumberland in 1847 and tenth in the most common in Westmoreland in 1851.  The area around St. Bees in Cumbria - along the coast from Workington to Ravenglass - accounts for more Hodgsons than anywhere else in England.

Many early Hodgsons in the area may have been Border reivers, perhaps organized on clan lines like their Scottish counterparts:
  • there were the Hodgsons of Bascodyke and the Hodgsons of Burgh by Sands and Moorhouse (whose numbers included the Quaker David Hodgson).  
  • Christopher Hodgson the Catholic priest may have come from Kendal. 
  • Joseph Hodgson, the 19th century physician, came from a Penrith family. 
  • the Rev. John Hodgson lived at Shap in Westmoreland in the early 1800's before crossing the Pennines to Northumberland. 
  • while Thomas Hodgson, born on the Isle of Man in 1805, had Cumbrian origins.  Many of his descendants emigrated to America in the 1840's.  
Thomas Hodgson was a prominent Liverpool merchant and slave trader in the late 18th century who had built cotton mills at Caton to profit on his trade.  His son Adam Hodgson, however, played a leading role in the campaign to abolish slavery.

Geoffrey Hodgson's 2005 book The Hodgson Saga gives a full account of the Hodgson name and its history.

America.  Robert Hodgson was a Quaker from Yorkshire who arrived in New York in 1657 while it was still Dutch and antagonized the local authorities.  After having been beaten there and imprisoned, he moved first to Rhode Island and then found a haven in William Penn's Pennsylvania.  George Hodson and Robert Hodgson of the family in Chester county, Pennsylvania later migrated to the Quaker settlement in North Carolina.  Hodgsons from here were later found in Ohio.

Ralph and Elizabeth Hodgson were Quakers who had grown up in the Albany, New York area.  Their son John crossed the border into Canada after the Revolutionary War.

Caribbean.  Edward Hodgson came out to Jamaica from Liverpool in 1837 and started a coffeee plantation at Southfield in the years following the abolition of slavery.  That plantation stayed with the family until 2004.

Canada.  Edward Hodgson, a seaman, was an early settler in Nova Scotia, arriving there in the 1790's.  He lived for many years as a lifeguard on Sable Island (the title on his tombstone read "Governor of the Isle of Sable").  Christopher Hodgson came to Nova Scotia sometime in the 1840's.  His descendants later moved across the border to Maine.  John and Rachel Hodgson from Cumberland headed for Quebec (then Lower Canada) in 1819.

Australia and New Zealand.  Early Hodgsons in Australia were convicts.  There were 41 of them in total, starting with John Hodgson, tried in Lincoln and transported to New South Wales for life on the Royal Admiral in 1792.

John Hodgson arrived with his family in 1837 from the small village of Wadworth in Yorkshire.  He did well as a merchant and land speculator in Melbourne and was mayor of that city in 1853.  Robert Hodgson from Durham came out to the Victoria goldfields in the 1850's and later settled in New Zealand.  The interestingly named Twentyman Hodgson from Lincolnshire was an early arrival in Christchurch, SI in 1851.  George and Mary Hodgson arrived there from Penrith in Cumberland in 1865.

Select Hodgson Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Hodgson Names

Adam Hodgson, the son of a slave trader, campaigned against slavery and was a prominent civic leader in Liverpool in the first half of the 19th century.
Joseph Hodgson was a 19th century physician, best remembered today by his name from Hodgson's disease.
Frances Hodgson was the late Victorian writer of children's stories such as Little Lord Fauteroy and The Secret Garden

Select Hodgsons Today
  • 35,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 4,000 in America (most numerous in Florida) 
  • 17,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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