Robert Hodgson, son of Robert and Rachel (Shotten) Hodgson, was born circa 1670 in Rhode Island; died 1733, with his will probated in Cecil County, Maryland; he married (1697?) Sarah Borden (December 19, 1680-1748, Cecil County, Maryland, will), daughter of Matthew and Sarah (Clayton) Borden.
Three months after his father’s death, Robert Hodgson is “Taken in ffreemen in this Town,” August 19, 1696. He apparently married the following year.
The couple migrated, possibly with his sister and some of his in-laws, to the new Quaker settlements of New Jersey, where Sarah’s siblings established Bordentown. This was directly across the Delaware River from Penn Manor, Fallsington, and Bristol, Pennsylvania, where Robert’s sister now resided in Bucks County. West Jersey, as the colony was also known, was under Quaker proprietorship with strong Irish connections a few years before Pennsylvania and Delaware were granted to William Penn. So far, we have no definite explanation for the Hodgson and Bordens’ reasons for leaving Rhode Island, other than an assumption that it was for better prospects of prosperity. A Rhode Island history explains: “Robert probably went to Burlington, N.J., with his sisters about the same time as his wife’s nephew, Joseph, founded Bordentown.” At one time, Burlington Monthly Meeting had under its care, on the west bank of the Delaware River, Shackamaxon, Chester, Hoarkills, New Castle, and Falls Meetings. Two clues, however, involve the changing nature of the Aquidneck economy, which was shifting from an agricultural to commercial. Newport, especially, was a leading financial and trading center, known as “the centre of an extensive business in piracy, privateering, smuggling, and legitimate trade.” Until it was surpassed by the new city of Philadelphia down the coast, Newport was also the center of Quakerism in colonial America. Combine this with the size of Robert Hodgson’s estate – approximately sixty-six acres – and one can perceive that if he intended to continue farming, and to have enough land for a large family as well, he would have to move on.
There is also the possibility that the Hodgsons owned some property in the region as a consequence of their father’s association with William Penn.