Hodge Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Hodge Surname Meaning

Hodge is a pet form of Roger, a name introduced to England by the Normans after the Conquest. The root of Roger is hrod meaning “renown” and gari “spear.” It is said that some of the native English could not get their mouth around the Norman “R” and “R” became “H” or “D” instead. Hence Hodge or Dodge as a surname.

In the cook’s prologue in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the cook calls himself Hodge, but is addressed by the host a few lines later as Roger. Roger in medieval times was also a slang name for a farm laborer; as was Hodge.

Hodge, Hodges, and Hodgson are all surnames, Hodges and Hodgson being “son of Hodge.”

Hodge Surname Resources on The Internet

Hodge and Hodges Surname Ancestry

  • from SW England and Scotland
  • to America, Caribs (Antigua) and Australia

Early Hodge spellings were fairly variable and remained so for a considerable period of time. The surname history which follows concentrates just on the lines named Hodge.

England. There was early reports of a Hodge family in Northumberland who moved northwards and established themselves in Scotland. The Hodge name lived on locally in the legend of the Hodge of Ferryhill.  However, later numbers of Hodges in this part of England were small.

SW England The main numbers instead were to be found in the southwest of the country, in particular in Devon and Cornwall.

A William Hogge was recorded in Cornwall in 1297. The name was especially evident in the Helston area and was often described as a Bodmin name because of the number of Hodge mayors there in the late 1600’s.

Other Cornish sightings included a Francis Hodge who held Quaker meetings at his house in Falmouth at that time and Hodge families of St. Levan and St. Ives dating from the early/mid 1700’s. There were as well many Hodges working on the farms of south Devon, in and around Totnes.

William Hodge, the grandson of a Liskeard tanner, made it as a banker and merchant in Plymouth in the early 19th century and was able to establish himself amongst the local gentry.

“The 1851 census enumerator was shown into the study of Pounds Mansion House, Pennycross where William Chappell Hodge was now head of the family. He gave his occupation as landed proprietor and banker. His staff included a governess for the children, a butler, cook, coachman, and footman.”

Scotland. There were Hodges in Glasgow in the early 17th century where Thomas Hodge established himself as a merchant in 1625.

However, there seem to have been more Hodges in Fife. One family line traces itself back to George Hodge in Crail in 1686. John Hodg, deacon of trade in Fife in 1701, was the son of Alexander Hodg and other Hodges in trade there date from that time.

A later cluster of Hodges was to be found in Ayrshire.

America. Early records can be confusing as the names may switch from Hodge to Hodges or vice versa within a family. What follows here are mainly Hodge reports.

Two Hodge arrivals in the 17th century were:

  • John Hodge, born in Connecticut in 1643, and his brother Charles, the sons of immigrant Richard Hodge. John died in Lyme, Connecticut and his descendants were to be found in various places around the state.
  • and Robert Hodge, who was born in Virginia at around the same time. It is believed that his line connects to Henry Gustavas Hodge who moved with his parents as a small child to Edgecombe county, North Carolina in the 1750’s. Hodges from this family migrated to Kentucky in the early 1800’s and Blount Hodge prospered there as a merchant.

Then there were Scots or Scots Irish Hodges coming in the 18th century.

Three Scots Irish Hodge brothers – William, Andrew and Hugh – came to Philadelphia in 1730.  Andrew’s son Hugh was a well-known surgeon at the time of the Revolutionary War; while Hugh’s son and grandson were also physicians.  The fourth Hugh L. Hodge moved to New Mexico where he acquired the XSX Ranch in 1911.  Related also was the Rev. Charles Hodge, the great 19th century theologian of Princeton, New Jersey.

John Hodge, probably Scots Irish as well, was in Pennsylvania by the 1730’s. His grandson Alexander Hodge, born there in 1760, migrated to Georgia, Arkansas, and then, in 1828, to Mexican-held Texas. He died in 1836 just as the battle for Texas was won.

Meanwhile Francis Hodge, born in Antrim around 1750, who fought in the Revolutionary War under Washington at Brandywine and Yorktown and later moved to Davidson county, Tennessee. His two-storey log home there, built in Percy Warner Park around 1795, still stands.

Caribbean.  The Hodge name is extensive in the Caribbean islands and appeared at an early time.

The first of these Hodges was said to have been an Irishman who came to Anguilla around 1700 or possibly earlier.  Antigua and Anguilla records of 1727 showed a number of people named Hodge. One line, through Bazaliel Hodge, moved from Anguilla to Tortola (part of the British Virgin Islands today) and acquired a number of estates there.

Arthur W. Hodge was another early settler. In 1811 his son was sensationally tried and hanged for cruelty to his slaves:

“Arthur W. Hodge was the first and only plantation and slave owner to be put to death by hanging for his repeated and relentless cruelty to his slaves. Hodge is said to have been responsible for the deaths of over 60 people, including that of his third wife Ann. His once grand plantation house has long since been destroyed by the elements and all evidence of its existence buried by the lush Tortola vegetation.”

In a curious twist his black grandson Samuel was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery on the battlefield in 1866 whilst serving with the British Army in West Africa.

Another Hodge plantation owner was Langford Lowell Hodge (and his son of the same name) who owned estates in Antigua and British Guiana from the late 1700’s. Today the Hodge name is readily found in Antigua, Anguilla, St. Martin, and in St. Croix on the US Virgin Islands.

Australia and New Zealand.  A Hodge family from St. Ives in Cornwall, getting away from the mining slump there, arrived in Newcastle, NSW in 1867 and then sailed on to Port Chalmers, New Zealand. The Rev. Charles Hodge was a Congregational minister from Cornwall who eventually settled with his wife in South Australia. And other Hodges from Cornwall headed for the Moonta mines there.

Melville Hodge, a farm laborer from Fife in Scotland, boarded the Joseph Rowan in 1854 at the age of 51 for a new life in Australia. Sadly, his wife Janet died seven days out on the voyage. However, he was able to attract the attention of a 22 year old woman also emigrating and they married soon after their arrival. They settled in the Barossa valley of South Australia, but Melville lived for only another six years. Their son David later prospered as a grain merchant.

Hodge Surname Miscellany

How “R” Became “H” and “D.”  Richard, Robert and Roger were personal names introduced by the Normans after the Conquest.  It is said that some of the native English could not get their mouth around the velar Norman “R” and “R” became “”H” or “D” instead.  The table below suggests how this transition took place in the case of the surnames which came from these personal names.

Richard pet form Hick pet form Dick
gives Richards Hick, Hicks, Higgs Dicks
and Richardson Hickson Dixon,
Robert pet form Hob pet form Dob
gives Roberts Hobbs Dobbs
and Robertson Hobson, Hopson Dobson
Hopkins, Hopkinson Dobbin
Roger pet form Hodge pet form Dodge
gives Rogers Hodge, Hodges Dodge
Hodgson Dodgson
Hodgkins, Hodgkinson

“D” was probably the preferred substitution in the case of Richard.  Dick as an abbreviation is with us today; while Dixon is a very common surname.  However, with Robert and Roger, the preference would appear to be “H,” in particular with Roger.

Hodge, Hodges and Hodgson.  Hodge, Hodges and Hodgson are all surnames, Hodges and Hodgson being “son of Hodge.”  Hodge and Hodges are both West country names, Hodge being found in Cornwall and Devon and Hodges elsewhere in the region.

The table below shows the Hodge/Hodges breakdown of property owners by county in the 1873 Owners of Land.

County Hodge Hodges
Cornwall    17
Devon    14     2
Somerset     2    20
Gloucestershire    12
Worcestershire     7

The next table below shows the approximate numbers of Hodge/Hodges/Hodgson today and where they are to be found in England.

Numbers (000’s) UK Elsewhere Total in England
Hodge   12    25   37 Cornwall and Devon
Hodges   15    31   46 Southwest
Hodgson   35    21   56 Lancashire and NW

The Hodgson name is more numerous in the UK (some have suggested that it has a separate Norse origin), but has travelled less, particularly to America. 

Hodge of Ferryhill and the Brancepeth Brawn.  The village of Brancepeth in Durham is said to acquire its name from being the Brawn’s Peth, the area frequented by a notorious brawn (or wild boar).  The brawn roamed the marshy forests that once existed south of Durham in Saxon and Norman times and was said to have terrorized the local people.

In 1208 a young man by the name of Roger de Ferie or Hodge of Ferryhill was employed in the pursuit of the Brancepeth Brawn.  He took careful note of the paths that it frequently used and then constructed a deep pit on the brawn’s highway and covered it with boughs and earth.  He was successful in his pursuit.  The brawn came tumbling along and went head first into the depths of the pit.  Its nauseating screeches echoed throughout the countryside.  No doubt the beast later ended up as someone’s dinner.

Hodge’s grave is reputedly an ancient stone coffin at Merrington church with a carving of a stone and a spade.  During the 19th century a farmer discovered on his land this stone, apparently the remnant of a cross erected to commemorate Hodge’s victory. Nearby a deep hole in the ground was found and the local people in Ferryhill believed that this was the exact pit to which the brawn was lured.

Hodges in Antigua and Anguilla.  The following Hodges were recorded in the 1727 list of settlers.

St. Johns, Antigua Christopher
John Hodge
Valley division, Anguilla Thomas Hodge
Arthur Hodge Sr
Arthur Hodge Jr
Henry Hodge
Thomas Hodge

Reader Feedback – Francis Hodge in Tennessee.  Francis Hodge Sr, born in Pennsylvania in 1729, moved to Burke county, Tennessee with his brother Robert. He died there in 1788.  His son Francis Hodge Jr, born there in 1750., moved to Davidson county, Tennessee and built the original Hodge House cabin there.  He it was who signed the Cumberland Compact.

Looking for information on Francis Sr and Robert parents and origins.  I am a direct descendant.

Monte J. Hodge (hajhi@msn.com)

Alexander Hodge and the Texas Revolution.  Alexander Hodge was active with his sons and his sons-in-law in the Texas Revolution.  It was Hodge who shepherded the women, children, and family slaves in their flight to safety.  In her memoirs his granddaughter, Clarinda Pevehouse Kegans, described him as a tall, white-haired man who raised fine horses and was usually too preoccupied for take much notice of his grandchildren.

However, that all changed during their escape.  They traveled by night.  As they walked Hodge held some child’s hand in his and all through the dark night they could hear his voice – sometimes laughing, sometimes cajoling, even above the rain and thunder. They huddled in a thicket on April 21, 1836 and listened to the guns of San Jacinto.

Hodge brought his family back to Oyster Creek, but he was ill and exhausted.  He died on August 17, 1836 and is buried at Hodge’s Bend Cemetery.  In 1912 a stone in his honor was placed in Sam Houston Park, Houston.

Blount Hodge in Kentucky.  According to Barbara Knox, author of Robert Hodge et al of Livingston County Kentucky, Blount Hodge was considered the black sheep of the

“His wife died in 1864 and he died in 1877.  In his will he left most of his considerable estate to his mulatto housekeeper (who evidently was quite young) and her two children acknowledged by him as his.  His two sons tried to break it, but the County Court upheld it as written.

A number of years ago some of the Hodges from Texas found the will in the courthouse.  According to my good friend, the then County clerk, they slammed the book and walked out without saying a word.

I was visiting in Navarro county and, behind closed doors, was told of the will and its contents.

Some years ago one of his few descendants came back to Kentucky and had the house torn down where he had lived.  He had owned a number of houses in Smithland – one in which he entertained the Yankee officers almost every night (according to a letter which was written by my grandmother’s older brother).  I am fortunate in having a number of letters written during the 1850’s from Livingston county and they certainly give all the gossip.”

Hodge Names

  • Hodge was Samuel Johnson’s cat.
  • Rev. Charles Hodge of Princeton was a leading Calvinist in 19th century America.
  • W.V.D. Hodge was a Scots-born mathematician whose development of the Hodge theory in the 1930’s has had a major impact on the study of geometry.
  • Sir Julian Hodge, born in London, grew up in Wales and developed his business empire, the Hodge group, there. He created the Bank of Wales in 1972.

Hodge Numbers Today

  • 12,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 18,000 in America (most numerous in South Carolina)
  • 10,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).

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Written by Colin Shelley

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