John Hodgson

That John Hodgson was a remarkable man is beyond doubt. His involvement with Gateshead is
a) he was a curate at St Mary's Church for 2 years
b) he was the vicar at Heworth Church for a number of years and
c) his son
Richard Wellington Hodgson, who inherited the quarries of his grandfather Richard Kell, was twice a Mayor of Gateshead

While at Heworth he investigated the Felling Pit Disaster and reported on it and, in particular, he probably carried out a World First when he ensured that the ordinary people who were killed were named on a monument.

He also created the first free school in Gateshead..not the first school in Gateshead but the first to provide education to the ordinary child at no cost to the parents

This video is of yours truly playing the part of John Hodgson, in his sixties, having been "time transported" to Beamish Museum on its Felling Day in 2015.
It tells of John Hodgson's association with The Felling

if you're a fan of John Hodgson it is well worth reading the following for it contains information that is not elsewhere. It is from "The Worthies of Westmorland" by George Atkinson, Barrister at Law.


John Hodgson

M. R. S. Lb ;

. . . . . " Nor rugged are the paths
Of hoar antiquity, but strewn with flowers."  

There is a wide-spread notion on the side of the
" Swift-flowing Lowther, current clear,"
that Hodgson was born at Rosgill Head; but we have it of his own authority that he was born in Swindale.
He was the eldest of a numerous family consisting of seven sons and four daughters
all of whom, except the eldest, seem to have been born at Rosgill Head, or Rosgill Hall; and hence the confusion regarding himself. His more remote ancestors were seated in Patterdale and other places in the parish of Barton, which forms a large portion of the margin of Ulleswater; and his immediate ancestors were for two generations resident at Rosgill, in the parish of Shap, in which Hawswater is situated.
He was born in Swindale, November 4, 1780, and received his education at Sutton's Grammar School, Bampton, under the Rev. J. Bowstead, who was a man eminently successful as a teacher, and his boast still lingers in our recollection : "I've eddecated three hundert preests, I hev, et hev ee"; anglice, I have educated three hundred ministers of the church-and we believe this to be within the number; besides the host of good and useful
members of society,
  in all ranks and professions, who look back with reverence to their old and venerable master. If he had educated, we think, no other than Mr. Hodgson, his fame was secured against the inroads of time.
Hodgson was induced in 1802, at the suggestion of his cousin the Rev. William Rawes, M.A., Master of Kepier School, Houghton-le-Spring, to become Master of the Grammar School of Sedgefield, in the county of Durham, for which he obtained Bishop Barrington's licence, 21st July, 1802. He was ordained Deacon by the Bishop of Carlisle at Rose Castle on the 3rd of June 1804, by virtue of letters dimissory from the Bishop of Dur ham, for the title to the Curacy of Lanchester. He was ordained Priest at Durham 29th September 1805, by James, Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, Dean of Durham, then acting for the Bishop of
" During a residence at Lanchester of a little more than two years" (says he) "my time was chiefly occupied in educating the children of the village, and attending the duties of an extensive curacy. But my health required some relaxation from professional employment, and that was chiefly sought for in the society and hospitality of the families of the neighbourhood; in wandering into the fields, in botanical recreations ; in searching for antiquities about the Roman station, and in occasional attempts at poetry."
It was here he wrote Woodlands and other poems published in 1807,

and dedicated to his friends Thomas White, Esq., and W. T. Greenwell, Esq., from the preface of which the above extract is taken. As illustrative of him we may mention here one anecdote, among many, recorded of his sayings and doings. On reaching Newcastle early in the morning (a Saturday) on his way to the Bishop of Carlisle's Ordination at Rose Castle to be ordained deacon, which was the following day (Sunday), he found the only coach to Carlisle gone; without hesitation he left his carpet bag and set off and walked on foot to Carlisle that night (above sixty miles) and the next morning proceeded to Rose Castle. Having explained to the bishop the circumstances which had compelled him to leave his bag, as an apology for not having his gown with him, his lordship said,
" Oh, Mr. Hodgson, you shall have the gown in which I was ordained deacon, and may it be as lucky to you as it has been to me."
In 1806 he became curate of Gateshead.
In 1808, perpetual curate of Jarrow with Heworth, on the presentation of Cuthbert Ellison, Esq., M.P., of Hebburn Hall, in the county of Durham. It was at Heworth he wrote his accounts of Northumberland and Westmorland, published in the "Beauties of England and Wales." The Picture of Newcastle upon Tyne, published in 1812. Felling Colliery Accident — a Sermon and Description of the Colliery, &c, 1813. In Part II. vol. iii. p. 171 of his History of Northumberland, will be found a short

sketch of the part he took with the Society for Preventing Accidents in Coal Mines.
Sir Humphry Davy's correspondence with Mr. Hodgson on the subject of his invention of the safety lamp, and other philosophical inquiries, commenced on September 27, 1815, and continued to March 19, 1818, is very voluminous, and not any part of it has been published. He says : — " One who has lived long within the appalling sound of blasts in coal mines; who was the first to publish any detailed account (
published in the form of advertisements in the Newcastle Courant, the publishers being afraid to insert them in any other way) of these life-destroying whirlwinds of fire; who had often hazarded his own life in investigating their causes; and who had spent much time and money in promoting measures to prevent these afflicting calamities, may surely venture to put in an obscure corner and amongst antiquarian rubbish some record, that he was one who was present at the commencement of a train of inquiries that has led to discoveries on the nature and properties of flame, which gave to man the power of walking securely through an element which had hitherto defied him to approach its dark recesses with a light — discoveries that are endless in their application; and which, in the Davy Safety Lamp, presented the miner with one of the most brilliant and most beneficial inventions that stand in the annals of science; discoveries which, in the early ages of  the history of man, would have ranked its author in the number of the heavenly gods; and which, though the earth-born spirit of envy and ingratitude may for a season continue to assault his name, will place upon the altar of his memory a light that shall only cease to burn, when our planet in its present condition ceases to exist." Mr. Hodgson was deputed by the Coal Trade, in 1815, to ac company the late Mr. Buddie to the Dudley Coal Bason, to inquire into the mode of working and ventilating mines; he has left many papers, including his observations from minutes taken at the mines. He was also about this time one of the founders of the Antiquarian Society, and of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle-upon-Tyne; of the former he was Secretary for many years, and was afterwards elected Vice-President. He contributed many and very valuable papers, chiefly printed in the history of man, would have ranked its author in the number of the heavenly gods; and which, though the earth-born spirit of envy and ingratitude may for a season continue to assault his name, will place upon the altar of his memory a light that shall only cease to burn, when our planet in its present condition ceases to exist." Archmologia Mliana, particularly " On the Study of Antiquities, being the introduction to the first volume;" "An Inquiry into the iEra when Brass was used in Purposes to which Iron is now applied;" " Observations on an Account of the Roman Road, called Wreckendike, and particularly of that Branch of it which led from the Mouth of the Tyne, at South Shields, to Lanchester, in the County of Durham;" " An Account of the Life and Writings of Richard Dawes, M.A., late Master of the Royal Grammar School and of the Hospital of St. Mary, in the Westgate, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne."
On the 31st of March, 1823, he was instituted by Dr. Barrington, Bishop of Durham, to the Vicarage of Whelpington, in the county of Northumberland ; and on the 24th of March, 1833, by Dr. Van Mildart, Bishop of Durham, to the Vicarage of Hartburn, the adjoining parish to Whelpington. Mr. Raine, the historian of North Durham wrote a memoir of his old and intimate friend. This said beforehand...Yet not to speak of the requirements of the present work, our own admiration of his industry, his genius, his erudition, and his great private worth, compels us to attempt a sketch, however imperfect, until Mr. Raine condescends to favour the world with the promised memoir. He was author of Poems written at Lanchester, consisting of Woodlands, a Poem; Longovicum, a Vision*, and five Odes, published in 1807, when at Gateshead f. The Nativity of Jesus Christ, a Poem; a Sonnet to the Moon; to the Author's
Mother, on her Birth Day. His poetry, especially the Vision, is worthy of him. He has, we regret to say, left us little, yet enough to show that, if he * With very copious notes on the Roman station of Lanchester, known as the Longovicum of the Romans. He was not satisfied with the composition, or the form in which these poems were published, and always intended to re-write them ; and, about the year 1832, had nearly carried out his intention, and has left the greater portion in Ms., but other calls of more importance compelled him to relinquish his project at the time.
tt 12mo. Newcastle, 1807.
X 8vo. Newcastle, 1810.
had not been a Jonathan Oldbuck, he would have been a poet of no mean pretensions; for it cannot be denied, that he had much of that force which calls new powers into being, which embodies senti ment, and animates matter;"* but an early bias (imagination's airy wing repressed) led him from the haunts of the Muses to the walls of Hadrian and Antoninus ; over hill and dale in Redesdale and Tindale; and to the dry and musty pipe rolls and records of the Exchequer ; every line of which seems to have been poetry to him. Before the publication of his great work (which we are presently to look at), he had written much and often respecting accidents in collieries; and had frequently in consequence received the flattering homage of the humane and scientific; especially of Sir Humphry Davy. He was a frequent con tributor to the Gentleman's Magazine and other periodicals, and had written many Archaeological and literary papers as well as several Sermons
and other publications. In a word, his reputation for genius, learning, and industry, was fully esta blished; so that when he avowed himself the His torian of Northumberland, he was at once and with one consent acknowledged as the man pre-eminently fitted for the undertaking. It is in six volumes, three of which are on Parochial History, and three on Records; with very copious indexes or tables of contents for each volume.
Men of parts on every side, every family of rank connected with the county, as soon as his resolve was made known, vied with each other in supplying him with materials ; so much was he heloved, and so great was his authority. The industry, learning, and judgment brought to bear upon them is almost enough to stagger credibility as to its being, as it really is, the work of one man. It was his constant habit to rise very early, often at three or four o'clock, and before breakfast he would have written what many would consider a good day's work; he wrote with great rapidity. The whole of the History having been printed in Newcastle added no little to his labours in correcting the errors of a press unused to such publications. Indeed, as has been truly said, when we reflect on the dis advantages under which it has been written, far from public libraries, or even a post town, we stand amazed at what he has done. If the present age has not taste or power to appreciate his herculean efforts, posterity will be grateful for his useful labours. In everything relating to the History of Northumberland, in paper, printing, vignettes, pipe rolls, Exchequer rolls and the like, he acted as a man of boundless means; indeed, totally regardless of self (as he was in everything), he lost sight of his original praiseworthy and manly object; and the consequence was, that his book was too expensive
for general sale, and his embarrassments rapidly increased upon him. Too much cannot be said of the noble and generous conduct of the Swinburne family, of Dr. Barrington, Bishop of Durham, and of other gentlemen named in his prefaces, for their sympathy and aid at this critical period of his life, indeed throughout his laborious undertaking. But all their kindness was of little avail; a mind keenly sensitive of a false position, or of unmerited coldness where it has a right to look for encouragement, soon does its fearful work upon the strongest constitution ; and so it did upon his. He was about completing the sixth volume, having finished about two-thirds of his great undertaking, when the pen fell from his palsied hand; it fell, and there it lies; but for whose use? Who so bold as to take it up ? He has left above one hundred volumes of Mss., many of them thick folios, containing the materials of the unpublished portions of the county, as well as much that he was not able to introduce for want of space into the six volumes which have been published. The whole of these Mss. relating to the county of Northumberland are in the possession of his eldest son, Mr. R. W. Hodgson, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The learned are fully agreed in pronouncing this history a standard work; to the antiquary and the geologist it must be a mine of wealth; for the lawyer and landed proprietor of Northumberland a sure repertory of valuable and useful information. His essay on the Roman wall is, of its kind, a wonderful production ; to the precision and research of the profoundest and most industrious antiquary is united the free and easy narrative of a fire-side tale, together with the playful fancy of the wit and scholar. The archaeologist, the scholar, and the maiden, may all find instruction and amusement in it. In style the history is for the most part highly classical; in matters of local description simple and very happy, and now and then his sentiments are highly poetical and beautifully expressed. His Memoirs of Thomas Gibson, M.D.; the Rev. John Harle, M.D.; the Rev. John Horsley, M.A., F.R.S. ; and of William Turner, M.D. (the father of English physic), are very able. The stories of Meg of Meldon, of Rivergreen, and Joshua Delaval and his fourscore goats, are exquisitely told; but to refer to isolated parts of a work, all teeming as this does with philosophy and amuse ment, would be an endless task, if not a downright act of injustice. In Part II. vol. ii. there is a portrait by the late W. Nicholson (of Edinburgh), painted about the year 1811. The work is embellished with plates, many of them presented by gentlemen of the county; from designs by the Duchess of Northumberland, Miss Swinburne, Miss by the late W. Nicholson (of Edinburgh), painted about the year 1811. The work is embellished with plates, many of them presented by gentlemen of the county; from designs by the Duchess of Northumberland, Miss Swinburne, Miss
Emma Trevelyan, Edward Swinburne*, and by members of other families of rank in th e county, who vied with one another in aiding him and in courting his acquaintance. The plates are engraved chiefly by Collard, Millar, Nicholson, Lewis, and Lizars. Having taken a cursory and as we are aware a very imperfect view of his literary labours and their results, let us now turn in conclusion to other topics. In the year 1810 he married Jane Bridget, daughter of Richard Kell of Heworth Shore, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, stone merchant, who is still living and residing in Newcastle. He left out of a family of nine children two sons and two daughters, all of whom are married and still living. He was Secretary for many years, and afterwards Vice-President of the Antiquarian Society, and member of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, from their commencement, being one of the founders of both societies. He was elected a member of the Royal Society of Literature, London, in June 1828 ; and member of the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries, March 17, 1834. The honorary degree of Master of Arts was conferred upon him by the University of Durham about the year 1840. * The numerous and interesting sketches throughout the whole work by the master-hand of the late Edward Swinburne, Esq., render the illustrations highly valuable.
His constitution was naturally good, with a strong and powerful frame (being nearly six feet in height) . He was enabled to undergo great bodily exertions ; and on many occasions made long journeys on foot in the adjoining counties, in the Cheviots, and other remote places in Northumberland. He was timid and retiring, but of great courage. The following is only one of many instances on record. In a letter to Mrs. Hodgson, dated Edinburgh, Sep tember 13, 1815, he writes thus : — "We were just in time for the coach on Monday morning, but, from the avarice of the clerk in taking pay for a greater number than the coaches are allowed to carry, we found that more had mounted the top than could be conveyed ; the bill was therefore produced, and our names called over. Mine and B.'s not being found, we were ordered down; but, as I insisted that I both took the seats and paid for them on Saturday, whereas others that were on the coach had only been booked on Sunday, the guard desired me to speak with the 'master.' B., it was also agreed, should go along with me ; but as we entered the staircase, by the light of the ostler's lantern, I heard the coach begin to move, and before it got halfway along Collingwood Street I overtook it, seized the horses by the head, turned the two first around, and would not suffer them to move till the clerk came. He arrived in about three or four minutes, and then would have it that I took seats in the six o'clock coach, which goes by Coldstream and Kelso to Edinburgh ; but as he had not entered me even into the bill of that coach, and he could not deny having received my money, I positively refused allowing the coach to go off without us, and after near twenty minutes of altercation I gained my point, and two sailors were ordered off the top. The passengers in the inside were much pleased with the resistance I gave, and the few people who were in the street at the time declared they never heard of so abominable an attempt to defraud and disappoint any person, as our trunks and great coats were on the coach when it set off, and the guard had satisfied himself that we had paid our money on Saturday, from seeing my name with £3 opposite to it. I was much pleased with having so successfully gained my point; as it would have been a great disappointment not to have proceeded when we had once set off from home, and a mortification to be bamboozled by the clerk and guard of a coach." He had a good knowledge of the Hebrew language, as well as a thorough acquaintance with the Greek and Roman authors. His knowledge of chemistry was also considerable, and at a time when it was little studied, which he principally acquired when at Lanchester, and afterwards at Gateshead and Heworth. Botany was a favourite study in all his walks and rambles. He was also no mean artist, and his sketches throughout his note-books and diaries, which he kept with great regularity, and other manuscripts, are remarkable for their freedom and correctness. " To say he was generally respected, is to convey a very inadequate idea of the estimation in which he was held by a very large circle of his friends. Possessed of all the higher qualities of the head and heart, he commanded not only the respect, but the love and admiration, of all who knew him. To literary acquirements of no common order he added a mass of scientific knowledge attainable only by those who are gifted with great mental capabilities, and possessed of the requisite energy to cultivate them. His devotion to antiquarian research was as steady as it was successful ; nor were his pastoral duties neglected. The childlike simplicity of his character eminently qualified him for the performance of the several duties of his office, and the actions of his life were so many practical examples of Christian virtue. It is much to be regretted that he has left his valuable History unfinished. Whether from an overstrained application to his favourite studies, or from some other equally potent cause, his mind had become much enervated some years previous to his death, so much so that he was unable to prosecute the work so successfully begun."* On Mr. Hodgson's departure to the south of England, when his health broke down in 1839, there appeared in the Newcastle Journal the following monody by Mr. White : — " Behold Northumbria drooping and in tears ! Dark lowering clouds shadow her visage fair : Why should she grieve 1 The fleeting lapse of years Can furrow not her cheek, nor blanch her hair ; Yet has she cause of sorrow. He whose care For years has been to rear a pillar high, And grave thereon her story, doth repair In quest of health beneath a warmer sky. And she indeed may mourn, for never eye Gloated like his o'er all her ancient lore. Or who beside could better testify What she is now ; and what she was of yore 1 Watch him, ye heavenly powers, where'er he roam ; Bind up his nerves, and guide him safely home ! " No costly monument marks the grave of one who has left so many to posterity. All that points out that sacred spot is a large flat stone at the east end of Hartburn Church, such as covered the graves of great men centuries ago ; on it is engraved the following simple tale : —
" John Hodgson, M.A., Vicar of Hartburn, Died 12 June, 1845, Aged 65."

John Hodgson's offspring

1. Elizabeth Hilda Hodgson was born on 24 Feb 1811 at Heworth, Durham. She married Thomas Bourn Pearson in 1835.

2. Richard Wellington Hodgson was born on 5 Aug 1812.  In the 1851 census his occupation is described as 'Stone merchant employing 92 men as quarrymen' He inherited it from his grandfather Richard Kell

3. John Hodgson was born in 1814, died 1857. No children 

4. Jane Bridget Hodgson was born in 1816, died 1831 

5. Susanna Hodgson was born in 1817, died 1834.

6. Isaac Hodgson was born in 1819, died 1830 

7. William Wilson Hodgson was born in 1821, died 1837 

8. Mary Hodgson was born in 1825, died 1830 

9. Emma Hodgson was born in 1826.

5 of his children pre-deceased him

Also worth a read is a little of
his life in Northumberland

Also see a sample of
his poetry

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