Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hodgson, John (d.1684)

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HODGSON, JOHN (d. 1684), autobiographer, a Yorkshire gentleman, who resided near Halifax, took up arms on the side of the parliament in the civil wars in December 1642, at the instigation of Andrew Latham of Coley Chapel, when Sir William Saville attacked Bradford. He began his military service as ensign to Captain Nathaniel Bowers in the regiment of Colonel Forbes, and fought under Sir Thomas Fairfax at the capture of Leeds and Wakefield and in the defeats of Seacroft Moor and Atherton Moor. When the Marquis of Newcastle captured Bradford (July 1643), Hodgson was made prisoner and stripped, but, being released, he made his way to Rochdale, where he had a fever. Mustering afresh at Thornhall in Craven, Hodgson and his companions joined Fairfax at Knutsford Heath, to undertake the attack on Lord Byron at Nantwich (January 1644). Hodgson then entered Colonel Bright's regiment [see Bright, John], under whom he served till 1650. He took part in the sieges of Pontefract in 1645 and 1648. In the battle of Preston (August 1648) Hodgson, still only a lieutenant in Captain Spencer's company of Bright's regiment, was one of the leaders of the ‘forlorn of foot.’ In this campaign he followed the victors to Wigan, Warrington, Winwick, and Frodsham, where seven regiments of foot laid down their arms. When Cromwell invaded Scotland in 1650, Hodgson, whose regiment was now commanded by Lambert, took part in the campaign. His description of the battle of Dunbar is the most valuable portion of his ‘Autobiography.’ After Dunbar Hodgson was given the command of a company in Cromwell's regiment of foot, which was sent into Lancashire to assist Colonel Lilburn against the Earl of Derby. Though he did not arrive until after Derby's defeat, his regiment helped to intercept the flight of the Scots after Worcester, and took part in the capture of the Isle of Man (1651). After Cromwell became protector Hodgson wished to leave the army, and the Protector, to enable him to be near his family, removed him into Lambert's regiment of horse as a lieutenant. When the army was reorganised by the parliament in 1659, Hodgson was transferred to the regiment of Colonel Saunders, with the same rank (Commons' Journals, vii. 668, 712), and ordered to join Monck's army in Scotland. But he would not fight against his old commander, General Lambert, and delayed till Monck marched into England and his prospects of further employment ended. Two informations against Hodgson are printed in ‘Depositions from York Castle’ (Surtees Soc., pp. 86, 157). Hodgson acquired Coley Hall by lease for fifteen years, 11 April 1657 (Memoirs, p. 8). In the ‘State Papers’ there is an account of a meeting of ‘a hundred fanatics, ministers, and others’ on 3 July 1660 at Coley Hall, the house of Hodgson, called ‘a great fanatic.’ From Coley Hall he removed to Cromwell Bottom, and thence to Ripon in 1680 (ib. p. 16), and is probably the John Hodgson mentioned by Oliver Heywood as dying at Ripon 24 Jan. 1683–4, ætat. 66. The last date in his diary is 11 Jan. 1683–4. He married, 17 April 1646, a lady named Stanclife, and had issue two sons, Timothy and Eleazar, and three daughters: Sarah, who died in infancy; Martha, who died the widow of William Kitchin in 1672, leaving one child, Elizabeth; and Lydia. His ‘Memoirs … touching his conduct in the Civil Wars, and his troubles after the Restoration,’ was first published with Sir Henry Slingsby's ‘Original Memoirs, written during the great Civil War,’ Edinburgh, 1806, 8vo. Prefixed was a notice by Joseph Ritson, who considered that in point of importance, interest, and even pleasantry, Hodgson's narrative was infinitely superior to Defoe's ‘Memoirs of a Cavalier.’ Carlyle styles the author ‘an honest-hearted, pudding-headed Yorkshire puritan.’ A number of fresh notes, some of value, are given in Turner's edition, Brighouse, 1882.

[Introduction to the Memoirs; notes from C. H. Firth, esq.; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), p. 2413; Palatine Note-book, ii. 180.]

T. C.