Robert Henry Hodgson

A notable event in the history of New London township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, was a centennial family reunion, held September 7, 1892, at the residence of Robert Henry Hodgson, at Pleasant Garden Tract. Upon that occasion Mr. Hodgson, in referring to his family estate, remarked that "this land is an old patent tract taken up by our forefathers, and never since has it been owned out of the name of Hodgson. My father was born here, and here we have been permitted to remain." A history of the Hodgson family was read by Ellis P. Hodgson, and from it is drawn what follows:

The history of the Hodgson family in America begins in 1665, the year following the assertion of English authority under Sir Richard Nicolls. In that year Robert Hodgson landed in New Amsterdam, no New York. He was an Englishman and a Quaker, and according to a story of the day, he was, on account of his religion, tied to a darkey and flogged, by order of Peter Stuyvesant, the governor during the brief Dutch rule. Traditions as to his later settlement differ somewhat. The Virginia branch of the family contend that he settled at Philadelphia, while members of the Hodgson of Pennsylvania assert that he settled at or near Chester, on the Delaware river. The records of Chester county show that in 1692, prior to its division, Thomas Bright assigned to Robert Hudgeson fifty acres in Concord township, and little doubt is entertained of this being the immigrant Robert Hodgson, the name as others, frequently appearing in different forms. Five years later he bought fifty acres in Springfield, which he sold in 1699, and the deed shows him to be of Chester. In 1714 Robert Hodgson was a taxpayer in Chester; he moved away, and a certificate was granted him and his wife Sarah and their family, dated 8 mo., 28, 1717, and directed to Newark monthly meeting. This Robert is thoroughly accounted for from 1714 until his death in 1733, and the question has been raised, was he the immigrant Robert, or his son? The family historian (Ellis P. Hodgson), after careful study and research, in convinced that he was the former.

Robert Hodgson became an extensive landowner. December 14, 1714, he patented a tract of two thousand acres, and on the next day, with James Hendricks, another of one thousand five hundred acres, both in old Chester County, on Conestoga creek and both in under Penn patents. In 1715 a two hundred and fifty acre tract in East Nottingham township was patented and was known as "Hodgson's Choice" and in 1728 another patent was granted for a tract of six hundred and sixty acres called "Pleasant Garden." Family tradition asserts that Robert Hodgson, after leaving Chester, settled on the Conestoga tract, which he abandoned on account of trouble with the Indians, and located on Bohemia Manor in Maryland. The latter region was fertile but malarial, and he again moved to Pleasant Garden, which as has been heretofore observed, has been since uninterruptedly in possession of his descendants, and is now the home of Robert H. Hodgson. It is curious to note that this tract was obtained under a Maryland patent and was held to be in Cecil County in that province.

Robert Hodgson would appear to have died at about the age of eighty-nine years. His will, made in 1732, was proven November 28, 1773. In it he names his wife, Sarah, and the following children: Joseph, John, David, Richard, Phineas, Matthew, Rachel Scott, Sarah Hodgson, Jona and Robert. To Phineas he gave two hundred acres on the south side of Pleasant Garden, and the undisposed of remainder to Joseph. Joseph conveyed his interest, December 9, 1745, to Phineas, who died intestate, leaving his three sons, the older of whom, Robert, inherited the property. Robert settled in Fredrick county, Virginia, about 1745 in 1771 he gave one hundred and thirty acres of Pleasant Garden to his brother John, who sold it in 1773 to William Shearer. In 1771 Robert, with his wife and mother, deeded another one hundred and thirty acres of Pleasant Garden to his youngest brother Abel. Two years later, Abel bought of Jonathan Hodgson of Philadelphia (his cousin, and a grandson of Robert, of Cecil County) the two hundred and fifty acres known as "Hodgson Choice." The will of Robert, brother of Abel, shows that the one hundred and thirty acres of Pleasant Garden deeded to Abel was the northwest part of the tract situated in New London township, Chester county, and it is that portion which is now occupied by his great-grandson, Robert Henry Hodgson.

Abel Hodgson was the father of two sons, Robert and James; and three daughters, Mary, Elizabeth and Hannah. From the sons came numerous descendants. Robert, the eldest, married January 3, 1793, Sarah Alexander, and to them were born eight children - Mark, born October 5, 1793, Elizabeth, 1795; James, 1797; Harriet, 1799; Robert 1803; Sarah, 1806; Henry, 1810; Alexander, 1814. The father married (second) Catherine Evans, March 24, 1831. James, second son of Abel Hodgson, married (1798) Margaret, a daughter of Judge James Boyd, and her grandchildren now occupy the old Boyd homestead. To them were born five children - James B. died 1838, Judge Joseph Hodgson, of Elk View, who became an associate judge, and was a man of great mental vigor and sterling integrity; and daughters Eliza, Jane and Mary.

James, third child and second son of Robert and Sarah (Alexander) Hodgson, was born August 5, 1797, and died December 17, 1880. He married February 8, 1827, Elizabeth E. Gillespie, born in October 1797, and died April 18, 1845. Their children were: Sarah Alexander, born November 3, 1827; Mary Evans, born April 21, 1829; Robert Henry, born October 31, 1830; Elizabeth Gillespie, born July 12, 1832; George Gillespie, born September 19, 1834; Matilda Brown, born August 21, 1836; James Wallace, born June 11, 1838; Norris Kirkwood, born April 10, 1842.

Robert Henry Hodgson, third child and eldest son of James and Elizabeth E. (Gillespie) Hodgson, owns and cultivates the ancestral Pleasant Garden property, upon which he yet resides. He married, October 7, 1856. Maggie A. Sproul, and their children were: Annie Sproul, born January 1, 1860, married (May 24, 1884), Robert D. Morrow, and to them were born: Nellie H., March 12, 1885; Herbert S. born December 15, 1887; Robert Hodgson, born July 29, 1890. Bessie Gillespie, born May 25, 1862, died September 2, 1883; Charles S. born August 29, 1864.

Elizabeth G. daughter of James and Elizabeth E. (Gillespie) Hodgson, married (November 12, 1857) Robert M. Pierce, and to them were born: George Hodgson, July 30, 1859; Norris Appleton, born December 28, 1861; James Hodgson, born May 2, 1864; Sarah E., born August 24, 1867; Bessie Gillespie, born July 21, 1872.

Matilda B., daughter of James and Elizabeth (Gillespie) Hodgson married (November, 1862), Thomas Budd, and their children were: May Hodgson, born January 13, 1864; William Trites, born May 31, 1865; Bessie Gillespie, born July 9, 1867; died August 19, 1887; Lillian Hodgson, born June 17, 1870; Helen Johnson, born June 9, 1872, died May 27, 1886; John Thomas, born December 7, 1875, died July 21, 1889; Henry Garrison, born February 23, 1877.

Mr. Hodgson, his wife and children are members of Rock Presbyterian Church, Mr. Hodgson being an elder for forty years, and in 1903 he represented New Castle Presbytery at the general assembly in Los Angeles, California.


Excerpts taken from: Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Chester and Delaware Counties, Pennsylvania: Editors of Genealogical Departments: Chester County: Gilbert Cope. Delaware County: Henry Grahma Asmead. New York...Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Co. 1904