The Hodsons of Knapwell

My interest in this family was triggered by the acquisition of two volumes of family photos at an auction in Cambridge in July 2017. The volumes were in the possession of Douglas Arnold John Francis Hodson who passed away earlier in the year. He appears to have never married and died childless, as did his sister Bettine.


As with many photograph albums of this period there is often very little information to help identify the pictures. However there were certain important exception. A family portrait of the of the Hodsons taken about 1883 was labeled. One of the volumes was given as gift to Miss S P Hodson in 1882 by the children of the Vine Lodge.


As a result I was able to construct the family tree that shows many of those depicted on the photos though a lot of that accurate matching of names and faces has still to take place.


The earliest family members I have been able to trace are John Hodson (1752-1815) and his wife Elizabeth Carrington (1759-1842). They lived in Swavesey and seem to have had five children from two of whom there are known descendants: Samuel b. 1793 and Martin b. 1800.


Samuel married Elizabeth Haines (b.1787) and there were descendants of all their three children. In particular, Harriet Caroline (1830 - 1909) married  Henry Lewer Tuck (1820 - 1880) and at some point they migrated to Adelaide, South Australia. This may well have been at the time of the Australian Gold Rush for the first of their eleven children was born in 1851. There will be a significant number of descendants of this line of the Hodson family alive today.


Martin married Rettee Elsworth Perry, lived in Elsworth and had four children. The eldest, Selina P Hodson (1826 - 1928) never married. She seems to have been a teacher and lived to a very advanced age. She kept in touch with members of her family as evidenced by the contents of her photograph album. The second eldest, William (b 1828), married Jane Flinders (1829-1901) and it is their family on whom the contents of the photograph albums are focused.

The Hodsons of knapwell

William and Jane had nine children and lived in Brook Street in Knapwell. William was a bricklayer and we know that he was contracted to restore the tower of Knapwell church in 1870.


The eldest child Francis William b. 1855 described himself as a builder. He and his wife Laura (1875-1935) had four children, Albert Augustus, Cyril, Arnold Stanley and Edna Florence. There are descendants living of Albert and Cyril. It is from the estate of Arnold's son Douglas that photograph albums have come. In 1900 Francis was fined £2 for keeping a carriage without a licence. In 1903 his application for a licence to run a pub at the site of The Three Horseshoes was turned down.


The eldest girl was Ann Elizabeth b. 1856. She appears not to have married and had no children.


The second eldest  boy was Augustus John (1857-1940) who married Eliza Champion Odlin (1858-1917). They had three children, Horace, Olive and Gertie. In 1917 at the time of his wife's death Augustus was Guardian and Rural District Councillor. At the same time their son Horace C Hodson was a sergeant on active service but it is not known with which unit.


The second daughter Clara (1859-1934) married George Wilson but there appear to have been no children. In 1901 they are living in Brighton where her husband is a plasterer. In 1911 their address is 5 Addison Road.


The next eldest Flora Amelia (b. 1862) married George Sheald and again there appear to have been no children. In 1901 her husband is the secretary of a public confectionery company.


The third daughter Alberta Emmeline (1864-1961) married Herbert Frederick Polhill (b.1864). They emigrated to the USA in 1889 where their son Herbert was born in 1891. They then moved to Los Angeles, California where descendants still live. Herbert senior was a sign painter. In 1881 Alberta had been working in Cambridge as a domestic under nurse to the Brockner family at 4 Salisbury Villas, Station Road. In 1917 she is living with her sister in Long Beach California. The son became a lawyer and certainly travelled at least once to the UK since in 1929 they both arrived back from Southampton on the SS Washington in September. In 1940 he was living with his mother in California.


The fourth daughter Eliza Violetta (1867-1926) married Herbert's brother, George Polhill (1862-1914). They emigrated to South Africa where their son George James was born in 1900. However, after the father's death in 1914 the family seem to have moved to the USA to live with Alberta and her family. In 1891 Eliza is living with her aunt Emma. In 1920 she is living with her sister in Long Beach.


The fifth daughter, Ada Helena [Eleonora] b. 1869 seems to have never married. In 1891 she is living in Brighton with her sister Clara Jane.


The youngest of the family, Martin Flinders, 1873 - 1950, also never married. In 1881 he is living with his parents. In 1882 there is a newspaper report of him being assaulted by two boys whilst riding. In 1891 and 1901 he is living with his aunt Emma. In 1911 he is a mailman at the Eagle Inn in Benet Street, Cambridge.

Photograph Album Volume 1

photograph album volume 2