Hodgson Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Hodgson Meaning
Hodge, Hodgson and its diminutive 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”
However, an alternative theory of Hodgson origins and perhaps a
more persuasive one ties Hodgson
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.

Hodgson Resources on

Hodgson Ancestry

first record of a Hodgson in England was that of John Hodgson, bailiff
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
    and Moorhouse (whose numbers included the Quaker David
  • Christopher
    Hodgson the Catholic priest
    may have come from Kendal.
  • Joseph Hodgson, the 19th century physician, came from a Penrith
  • 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
    origins. Many of his descendants emigrated to America in the

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

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 coffee
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.

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.


Hodgson Miscellany

Hodgson Origins.  The surname
authority P. H. Reaney has stated that Hodgson is derived from “son of
Hodge” and that Hodge, in turn, is a “pet-form of Roger.”
This view has been repeated by several others
as well.

By contrast the Hodgsons are
most numerous in Cumbria in England, which was settled by the Norse
Vikings in
the tenth century.  Hodgson could thus be
derived from the Norse name Oddgeir, as suggested by earlier

It was Henry Barber, in two
editions of his major work on British surnames in 1894, who in fact
first advanced
the idea Hodgson may have derived from the Old Norse Oddgeir-son.  Charles Bardsley in 1901 took a similar line,
offering multiple explanations including “son of Roger” but also
giving due prominence to the possibility of Old Norse origins.

The Victorian theory that Hodgson is of
Scandinavian origin is endorsed by recent research. The early
distribution of the Hodgson surname, as well as recent DNA analysis of
a number
of Hodgsons, support the theory of Norse origins.

Hodgson Y-DNA is roughly one-third Norse and
5-10 per cent Danish, most of the remainder being similar to indigenous
or Irish.  The proportion of Norse blood
among Hodgsons is much higher than in the British population as a
whole.  Stephen Oppenheimer has estimated
that about 6
per cent of Y-DNA in the British Isles is of Norwegian origin.  The proportion of Hodgsons with Norse
paternal ancestry is in fact closer to that found on Shetland and
Orkney, known
areas for Norse settlement.

The Hodgson Coat of Arms.  In heraldic
language this coat of arms is “per chevron, embattled or and azure,
martlets counterchanged.”  According
to one authority, these arms were displayed by members of the family at
Battle of Towton in Yorkshire in 1461 during the Wars of the Roses.

Heraldic records confirm this coat of arms
was displayed by the Hodgsons of Hebburn, a mine-owning Catholic family
in NE England in the 16th and 17th centuries.  This
same coat of arms is associated with other
Hodgson families, including the Hodgsons of West Keal in Lincolnshire,
Hodgsons of Bascodyke in Cumberland, the Hodshons of Amsterdam, and
with Thomas
Hodgson, a Liverpool merchant and slave trader, and the owner of a mill
Caton, Lancashire.

Christopher Hodgson the Catholic Priest.  Christopher
Hodgson was a Catholic priest who played a role in the
Babington Plot during Elizabethan times.
The plot was a failure and eighteen of the main conspirators
were hung,
drawn, and quartered in London in 1586.

records concerning his ordination suggest that Christopher Hodgson was
born in
1561.  Surviving letters in the English
State Papers confirm that his father was also called Christopher.  Christopher the elder was a tenant farmer in
Altham in Lancashire where he died in 1590.
Parish records show the baptism of a Christopher Hodgson, son of
Christopher Hodgson, in Kendal in Westmorland in 1561.  If
this record applies to the future priest,
then Christopher would have moved from Kendal to Altham when he was a

was a committed Roman
Catholic, in defiance of the Elizabethan authorities.  But
he clashed with the Jesuits and like
several other English Catholics he opposed a Spanish invasion.  He was a close friend of Gilbert Gifford and
an acquaintance of Charles Neville, the 6th Earl of
Westmoreland, in

George Hodson and Robert Hodgson, Quakers in Pennsylvania.  George Hodson
was thought to have been eldest son of the Rev. Robert Hodgson and the
of Quaker immigrant Robert Hodgson (although other lines have been
suggested as
well).  He was left with no inheritance
he eloped with Mary Thatcher, also a Quaker, in 1729 without the
approval of
either his father or that of the Chester Meeting House.
Both were disowned.

and his wife Mary lived in Chester
county, Pennsylvania for many years before, in 1750, moving with their
children and settling in the Quaker stronghold of Guilford (later
Rowan) county
in North Carolina.  His brother Robert
Hodgson joined them in 1756.  Cousins of
Mary had previously scouted the Piedmont area and returned with glowing
of the region.  This encouraged George
and Mary, perhaps feeling the effects of a lack of inheritance, to move

Adam Hodgson – Social Reformer and Social Conservative.  Adam Hodgson
was the second son of the Liverpool slave trader Thomas Hodgson.  He formed the cotton broking partnership of
Hodgson and Ryley in Liverpool in 1824 which continued throughout his
life.  Despite his involvement in brokering
grown cotton he became a founder member of the Liverpool Anti-slavery
in 1822.  He was also a founding member
of the board of the Liverpool to Manchester Railroad and of the Bank of

He resigned from the railway
board over the issue of Sunday working and this evangelical piety was
in the many philanthropic organizations in which he was involved.  He was appointed a magistrate for the county
and became involved, alongside the son of the blind Liverpool poet
Rushton, in many of the leading issues of the day – including the
of the Liverpool workhouse which had briefly become notorious
as the biggest
brothel in England. He also committed himself to the health of towns

experienced a huge influx of Irish poor
during the Irish Famine and this brought out the right wing social
side of Hodgson.  Hodgson and Rushton
were active in suppressing the Chartist rebellion of the time.  The prominence of the Irish Question then and
the attempts to disestablish the Anglican Church led Hodgson to become
increasingly associated with the Rev Hugh McNeile’s ultra-Tory
anti-catholicism. Following the
liberation of the Empire slaves in 1838 both he and McNeile ceased to
anti-slavery meetings.

Hodgson Convicts in Australia.  There were
41 convicts, including four women, recorded as being transported to
Australia –
starting with John Hodgson in 1792 and ending with another John Hodgson
in 1864.  They came mostly from the north of

Convict Origin in England Numbers
Durham and Northumberland    3
Cumberland and Westmoreland    4
Yorkshire 12
Lancashire    9
Lincolnshire    5
London    5
Elsewhere    3

Herbert Hodgson and Impressions of War.  Born in
South London in 1893, Herbert Hodgson
served from 1915 to 1918 in France and Belgium in the First
War.  His account of life and death in
the trenches, Impressions of War, is moving
and forceful.  It is one of the few
memoirs of the First World War that was not written by an officer and
provides a unique point of view from the other ranks.
The opening chapter of this book also gives a
vivid account of life a century ago in the poorer areas of the capital.

In a battle in April 1918 he found a
mud-encrusted Bible in a shell hole. Amazingly, 92 years later, the
owner of this Bible was traced back to Private Richard Cook from New

Hodgson was by trade a printer.  From 1923
to 1926 he printed the extremely
rare subscribers’ edition of T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of
.  Copies of this work now
attract prices of up
to US$80,000 each.



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 Faunteroy and The Secret Garden.

Select Hodgson Numbers 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)



Click here for return to front page

Leave a Reply