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Edward Hodgkins

Eric Trudgill    -    7 November 2011

Edward Hodgkins married Mary Woods in Alcester, Worcs in 1780, and founded a striking family of short-travelling tinkers, braziers, potters, chairbottomers, basket- and besom-makers in West Warwickshire and East Worcestershire. He was the elder brother, I think, of the Thomas Hodgkins, husband of Jane, whose offspring were to be found to the east of Edward’s, in East Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, and whose son, Joseph, christened in Leicestershire in 1789, fathered the Job Hodgkins who married Edward’s granddaughter, TrainetHodgkins in Birmingham St Martin in 1851.

Edward and Mary had an Edward Hodgkins christened in Alcester in 1781; a Benjamin Hodgkins christened in Welford, Wks in 1784; a Michael Hodgkins christened first in Kenilworth, Wks in 1790 (his father a traveller), and later in Warwick in 1793 “aged three”, jointly with his sister, Mary Hodgkins “aged one”; and Edward and Mary had probably the William Hodgkins born on the family patch about 1795, who married Charlotte Hayward in Alcester in 1824. Edward junior married Penelope Archer in Stratford, Wks in 1801, had nine sons by her and finally a daughter (of these more later), and three months after he buried Penelope in 1839, he married a Hannah Maria Powell, 30 years his junior (the two of them are travelling together in the 1841 and 1851 censuses). Both Benjamin and Michael, his brothers, also had two wives, one of them, Sarah, quite possibly the same woman: in Studley, Wks in 1808 Michael and Sarah christened a James, jointly with a son of Edward and Penelope; in Studley in 1811 Benjamin and Elizabeth christened a John, and in Studley in 1813 Benjamin and Sarah christened a Richard one month after Michael and Mary had christened a Lucy in Evesham, Worcs.

Benjamin and Sarah, after having Richard, had at least four more children: Mary Ann, baptised in Harvington, Worcs in 1818, who married John William Felton in Birmingham St Martin in 1837; Benjamin, baptised in Alcester in 1823, and Charlotte and Emmanuel, baptised in Knowle, Wks respectively in 1825 and 1830. Michael and Mary, after having Lucy, also had at least four more children, all baptised in Evesham: James in 1821 (Michael’s earlier James perhaps having died), who married Phoebe Flavell in Birmingham St Martin in 1841; David in 1824; and Isaac (born in 1826) and Eleanor jointly in 1832.

Edward and Penelope had seven children for whom baptisms are easy to find, all in Warwickshire: Charles in Henley in Arden in 1803, Thomas in Tanworth in 1806, Edward in Studley in 1808, Joseph in Spernal in 1812, Riley in Rowington in 1814, Samuel in Lillington in 1817, and Maria in Stratford in 1819. Having found these, I soon added, from circumstantial evidence, Benjamin, Henry and George, born respectively about 1800, 1802 and 1810, and was delighted to find Henry and George and their birth-dates confirmed by the appearance of Edward, Penelope and nine of their children (staying in what seems to be Penelope’s mother’s house) in an 1821 census of the population of Tanworth (the absent Benjamin as the oldest child was perhaps showing his independence).

I stand by my guess about Benjamin for three reasons. First, like his brother, Thomas, before him and his brother, George, after him Benjamin married a Daffy, Ann Daffy, who nine months earlier had witnessed Thomas’ wedding to Mary Daffy. Second, after Ann died in 1836 he quickly married Elizabeth, the widow of his nearest brother, Henry, who had died in 1835. Thirdly, in the 1841 census, Benjamin and Elizabeth are travelling with his four children by Ann, his two children by Elizabeth, and what seem to be the two surviving children of Elizabeth’s marriage to Henry, plus his aged father, Edward, and his new wife, Hannah Maria (20 years after the 1821 census, when Benjamin absented himself from the rest of the family, he’s perhaps now showing an eldest son’s sense of responsibility).

Benjamin and Ann christened Elizabeth, Esther, Solomon and Manuel in Evesham 1826-33, and Benjamin and Elizabeth christened Harriet and Eliza in Salford and WoottonWawen, Wks respectively in 1838 and 1841. Of Benjamin’s children Esther made the most prosperous marriage, to her step-mother’s nephew, Thomas Boswell, son of William and Susanna: Thomas Boswell and his first two sons, Alick and Maziah (christened and married respectively as a Hodgkins) did much to establish a Boswell presence in and around Herefordshire in the second half of the nineteenth century. Benjamin’s youngest daughter, Eliza, contributed to this by marrying Thomas Boswell’s brother, Henry.

Benjamin’s brother, the short-lived Henry, by his marriage to Elizabeth (daughter of William Colburn and Elizabeth Boswell) had four children christened in Tanworth 1825-34, Penelope, Maria, Joseph and Selina, plus Jane in Inkberrow, Worcs in 1832, and Henry junior in Hatton, Wks also in 1832 (perhaps christened late), with Henry in each case described as of Tanworth. Of these only Maria seems to have made a marriage, to Ambrose Boswell, the brother of the afore-mentioned Thomas and Henry Boswell: Ambrose and Maria’s daughter, Clara, married a son of the Job and TrainetHodgkins I mentioned in my opening paragraph.

Charles Hodgkins, the son of Edward and Penelope baptised in 1803, married Harriet Smith, daughter of Wisdom Smith and Elizabeth Gentle (Wisdom being a son of the celebrated Jasper Smith, “the King of the Fiddlers”). Charles and Harriet had the Trainet just referred to about 1827, and then christened Kezia in Quinton, Wks in 1829, Susan in Enstone, Oxon in 1835 (presumably visiting Harriet’s family), Mary in Arley, Wks in 1836, Matilda in Cropthorne, Worcs in 1839, Prudence in Coughton, Wks in 1842, and Eliza and Letitia in Tanworth in 1844 and 1851 (there was a short-lived Sidnel between the last two). Marriages have been found for all these daughters but Kezia (I’m grateful here as elsewhere for the brilliant ferreting of Josie Tombs), three in Birmingham St Martin, two in Knowle, and two in Tanworth.

The Thomas Hodgkins baptised in 1806 had by Mary Daffy a Thomas christened in Stratford in 1826, Louisa and Frederick christened in Tanworth in 1827 (the former born in 1825), plus Mark, Abraham, Alfred, Riley, Susanna, Walter, Rebecca and Wilson, all baptised or born in Evesham 1830-49. Edward Hodgkins, baptised in 1808, married Mary Sherriff in Tanworth in 1825 and died seven and a half years later, it seems without issue. George Hodgkins , born about 1810, had by Sarah Daffy a Caroline and Samuel christened respectively in Tanworth and Hatton, Wks in 1830 and 1832, and Joseph and Matthew christened respectively in Cropthorne and Evesham in 1835 and 1838. Riley Hodgkins, baptised in 1814, died in 1835 apparently without issue. Samuel Hodgkins, baptised in 1817, married Mary Handy and had Edward, Keziah, and Sabaria, christened respectively in Binton, Studley and Whatcote, Wks in 1836, 1842 and 1844. And Maria Hodgkins, Edward and Penelope’s only daughter, married James Lines in 1836, and had perhaps a George Lines about 1837, and certainly Joseph Lines christened in Binton in 1842, and Mary Ann and John Lines christened in Berkswell, Wks in 1845 and 1848.

Which leaves us only with Joseph Hodgkins, baptised in 1812, the direct ancestor of Tracey Emin, and thereby responsible for my 30 seconds of fame, supplying the genealogy for Who Do You Think You Are?’s recent TV programme. Joseph married Ann Tolley in Tanworth in 1845, having had by her Thomas, Riley and Charles, christened in Warwickshire respectively in Temple Grafton, Aston Cantlow and Billesley 1839-43 . They then had Emma, Joseph junior and Sarah Ann, christened in Tanworth 1846-51. Of these Thomas and Riley joined the community of boatmen, largely gorjer “water Gypsies” on the local canals, Thomas having two daughters, and Riley three, who married boatmen within that community. Joseph junior, the product of a short-travelling Gypsy family with roots in the area, intriguingly went much further: one can only speculate as to why in his teens he abandoned his close-knit family in the West Midlands for a life among strangers a long way from home in London’s East End, and, more than this, why he so suppressed evidence of his Gypsy identity, his great, great granddaughter was surprised as well as delighted to learn she came from Gypsy stock.

Copyright © 2011 Eric Trudgill