Generation four: the Irish Connection

For now, any consideration of Orphan George Hodgson’s roots coming from Cumbria and then Ireland remain conjectural, based largely on Jeremiah Mills’ undated and all-too-brief notes from the early 1800s recounting the Hodgson family’s disastrous passage to the New World from Ireland or northwest England. Even so, this is what I have.

Central to the argument are the surviving records of Lurgan Friends Meeting. Arising from the traveling ministry of William Edmondson in 1654, Lurgan Monthly Meeting in Armagh is the oldest Quaker institution in Ireland.

The Lurgan picture becomes complicated, first, by the badly faded ink on many of the minutes recording Quaker families, second, by gaps in the records themselves, and, third, by the existence of a cluster of Hodgsons as part of the Lurgan Friends community. In addition, the first surviving page of the Lurgan minutes begins in 1675, two decades after the Meeting’s founding.

Nor can all of the gaps in the Lurgan minutes be blamed on faded ink or missing pages. In 1691 the men’s meeting noted “the Booke of record of Certificates of Marriages, Birthes & Burialls belonging to this meeting having for some years past been entrusted to ye care of John Dobb, & he now being absent & not in this nation … ye said Booke hath not been duely kept as formerly.”

But, as Chris Dickinson confirmed in a e-mail, “You are absolutely right that the Hodgsons of Lurgan came from Murton in Lamplugh in Cumberland.”

Keeping in mind that Lurgan had two George Hodgsons sharpens the picture. Both are presumably from Lamplugh in Cumberland: the uncle, who died in 1688, and his nephew, who vanishes by 1710. I believe the younger George is the father of the orphan who arrives in America. Family sketches in a history of the Meeting state openly that its Hodgsons came from Cumberland.

Two of Lurgan’s most prominent early Quakers were Robert Hoope [or Hoopes] (1639-1719), a “merchant-taylor” or “linen draper” by trade who became the community’s wealthiest member, and his business partner, George Hodgson (1634-1688), listed in 1673 as a “taylor.”

Hoope, a native of Skelton near Gisborough in Yorkshire, according to the Lurgan minutes, came to Ireland in 1660 and by 1667 or 1668 had emerged as a solid Friend recognized with “a gift in the ministry … although,” as his memorial minute acknowledged, “his preaching was not with eloquence of speech, yet it was attended with life and power.”

The son of Robert Hoopes and Isabelle Calvert, he married in Lancashire in 1663 Eleanor Hodgkinson (Hodgson?), and they had 10 children. (His surname sometimes appears as Howpe.)

The Lurgan minutes for 1670 have George Hodgson marrying Anne – whose surname I could not quite make out in the microfilm, though I transcribed it as “Hayson or Harper.” (Other minutes spell her first name as Ann.) Because Lurgan at this period was comprised of about 14 families, the name would more likely be Hoope or Harlan/Harland. Because Robert Hoope and George Hodgson often appear in the minutes together, I am inclined to believe George married one of his business partner’s close relations – a hunch further supported by the fact that Robert Hoops was the first witness to sign, or one of the first, to sign the marriage certificate. (At the time I made my note, I didn’t realize that the first lines after the bride and groom’s signatures were reserved for the closest family members.) Also signing is a Will. [H]odgen, who is otherwise unaccounted for in Lurgan.

Between 1672 and 1688, the Lurgan minutes repeatedly name George Hodgson, often in service to the Meeting. He is a witness to the 1672 marriage of Valentine Hollingsworth and Ann Calvert, he serves on the clearness committee for the marriage in 1686 of Sarah Hoope and Thomas Chapman, and both George and Ann are among the 38 witnesses to the 1688 marriage of Valentine’s son (by a first marriage) Henry Hollingsworth and Lida Atkinson, before Valentine joins family in America. George is also repeatedly appointed as a representative to attend neighboring Quaker sessions and as an overseer for financial affairs involving Lurgan Friends in difficulty. (In the minutes, the family name also appears variously as Hodgeson, Hodghson, and Hodgshon.)

In 1680, a George Hodgen is noted as “having a shop in Lurgin,” possibly with Robert Hoopes [Hoope] as partner; Albert Cook Myers writes of some of their sufferings as they upheld Quaker testimonies in their business. That year, for instance, “Robert Hoop and George Hodgen having a shop in Lurgin, the aforesaid John Weatherby [‘priest’ of Parish of Shankill] bought some broad cloth and other things of the said Robert, and laid his hand on the Counter with Mony in it, and said, ‘Cast up what it comes to, and I will pay you very well in your hand,’ and while Robert was casting it up, he sent away the Taylor with the Goods, which came to sixteen shillings and a penny, and kept all for a small Tithe, and other things, which he called Church-rights, due (as he said) from the said Robert and George, and although Robert told him of his treacherous dealing yet he went away and paid him nothing.”

Robert and George were also once cited for keeping their shop open on “the day the world calls Christmas,” an celebration both Quakers and Puritans defiantly dismissed as unscriptural.

This George would have been in the same generation as John Hodgson of Murton; from the Lamplugh baptismal records, he would appear to be John’s brother. While no Lurgan records in this period exist for possible descendants of George and Ann (or the Hoope/Hoope family or the Harlan/Harlands, either), there is the oral account of sons John and James Hodgson going to America, and of another son who was the ill-fated father of the George Hodgson who married Mary Thatcher in America.

What we do know is that there was a younger George Hodgson at Lurgan in the period under examination.

The elder George was buried 1688 at Lurgan’s Monrvauorty or Monreaverty burial ground in Lynastown, the oldest Quaker graveyard in Ireland, so when George and Ann Hodgson turn up independently as subscribers to the new Friends meetinghouse in 1696, we have Ann Hodgson (presumably the widow, giving 1 pound 10 shillings) and what is likely a George Hodgson being a generation younger, contributing 10 shillings.

The clearest link between the Hodgsons of Lurgan and those of Cumbria occurs in this Lurgan minute:

Robert Hodgson, son of John and Elinor was born in Cumberland, 5th mo 1668, and came to Ireland in 1682 and on the 20th of 9th mo, 1701 took to wife Sarah, daughter of Wm Nicholson and Isable, born in Armagh.

This Robert is described elsewhere as a merchant, and contributes (with a George Fox, albeit not the famed Quaker organizer) 9 pounds to the 1696 new meetinghouse subscription.

Lurgan records list Robert and Sarah’s children as John, born in 1703; William, 1705; Ruth, 1707; Joseph, 1709/10; Robert, 1711/12; George, 1713; Jane, 1714; Jonathan, 1716; Sarah, no date; Ann, 1720; John, 1724.

Among those witnessing the 1701 wedding of Robert and Sarah was a George Hodgson, possibly Robert’s brother and the likely 1696 subscriber to the new meetinghouse construction. Considering the 1675 death of John Hodgson of Murton in Lamplugh, and no record of the latter years of his wife Eliner, young George may have been sent to Ireland to work with his brother or to be under the care of his successful uncle.

From the continuing births, it becomes obvious that this Robert and Sarah did not take the tragic ocean crossing of 1709-1710, in which the parents and siblings of Orphan George Hodgson perish – at least in versions handed down through the family. Yet we also see most of these names continuing within the descendants of George and Mary Thatcher Hodgson in America.

Also in Lurgan, an Elizabeth Hodgson, widow, was buried in 1689 in the Friends burial ground, pointing to still other Hodgsons; both Thomas and Richard Hodgson are listed in the 1663 Heath Rolls for County Armagh. Also in 1693, Church of Ireland Lurgan Parish tallies of contributions by Quakers list Widdow Hodgson (Robert) and Ambrose Hodgson.

Also at Carlisle we find an Ambrose Hodgson, the only Hodgson of that given name I found in the English minutes; children Annas, 1656; Joseph, 1659; and Mary, 1660, are recorded before he disappears from the English minutes. Can we assume that this is the same Ambrose we find marrying or remarrying at Lurgan in 1671 or 1672? The Lurgan minutes have an Ambrose Hodgson marrying Anne Roumfit (as best I could make out), and he may be the person listed in the 1693 contributions by Quakers list.

The George who signs Robert’s wedding certificate at Lurgan, then, may well be his brother. He definitely would have possessed connections at Lurgan, had he chosen to journey that way. George was close enough in age to be marrying as well; we can even wonder if George’s wife (assuming he had married) were at home nursing a young George during Robert and Sarah’s wedding service. Whatever, we find little else on this George; that, in itself, fitting the oral lore that had an English Hodgson family sailing from Ireland around 1710.

Chris Dickinson adds two other Lamplugh connections to Ireland.

The first involves the George Fox who contributes with Robert Hodgson to the construction of a new meetinghouse in Lurgan: “The Fox family were at Hunterhow in Lamplugh. Quite an old family there, going back at least to 1601.

“Early Quaker meetings  in Lamplugh were held at the Bowman farm in Hunterhow. John Fox next door (1596-1663) didn’t change his religion, nor did (so far as I know) his elder children. But his youngest son John did – and that seems to have been a problem.

“John was illegitimate. He was baptised in 1645 (possibly rather late) and, according to John’s 1663 will, had two children by 1663. The first one is recorded in the Pardshaw register as born ix-1659 by his wife Eliner. Then she drops out of the picture. In 1661, John gets married to Anne Fleming in the Anglican church by the retired curate ‘being in their own conceit lawfully married according to the Quaker’s fashion.’ Their children, Anne and George, are recorded at Pardshaw in 1662 and 1664. John was buried in 1708.

“So here you have the Robert Hodgson (born 1666) and George Fox (born 1664) pairing at Lurgan. I would guess that George moved over to Lurgan at the same time as Robert.”

Chris also mentions, “The other known Quaker move from Murton to Ireland was of Daniel Dickinson of Murton. His move, however, was in the 1690s and took him to Edenderry.”

Whatever Hodgson strand we may find as the father of the George who weds Mary Thatcher in America, we have a strong surname candidate for George’s maternal line: the Harlan or Harland family, or their related but more elusive Duck family.

The Harlands are described as a “strong family” in Lurgan Meeting, and brothers George and Michael Harlan arrived in America in 1687. This might also explain why Orphan George Hodgson is one of the witnesses at the Quaker wedding of Mary Harlan, daughter of Moses Harlan, in 1735 in New Garden Meeting in Pennsylvania or why, in 1738, Orphan George purchases land next to Moses Harlan in what is now Adams County, Pennsylvania, and was at the time frontier wilderness. In addition, George Hodgson is one of four witnesses to Moses Harlan’s will in 1747. To have George’s grandparents be Harlans opens the possibility that he was taken in by Harlan relations in America, rather than Robert and Sarah (Borden) Hodgson, as previously suspected.

The Lurgan Harlan line leads back to Durham, where James Harlan was born about 1725 and had sons Thomas, George, and Michael – the latter two relocating to America, as noted.

Attempting to piece together coherent genealogies from these records, however, is quite frustrating: perhaps half of the essential material is missing; numerous deaths go unrecorded or families vanish, perhaps reflecting movement to new locales, simple departure from the ways of Friends, the travails of persecution, the loss of minute books, or even sloppy record-keeping.

Despite these difficulties, my best-case scenario would argue that the George Hodgson who married Mary Thatcher in Pennsylvania comes by way of Lurgan Friends Meeting in Ireland and is the son of George Hodgson and (unknown) Harlan as well as the grandson of John and Eliner Hodgson of Murton, Lamplugh; while there is a possibility that Orphan George is the grandson of George and Ann Hoope Hodgson of Lurgan, only the one oral history reports any offspring for them.

There are other reasons for the strong linkage between Ireland – especially Ulster – and the border counties of England. In “Quakers and Emigration From Ireland to the North American Colonies,” (Quaker History, Fall 1988), Audrey Lockhart writes:

The first [Quaker] missionaries from England directed much of their proselytising zeal at the large military establishment. The Cromwellian army had been recruited mainly among the non-conformist sects in England and so, not surprisingly, it yielded many convincements. Although most of the English soldiers, even those who received Irish land as payment for their military service, returned home, numbers of them stayed to settle in Ireland, either as farmers, or, after selling their land grants, as shopkeepers.

She continues:

When the Quaker preachers turned to the civilian population of Ireland they drew most response from the recently established Protestant settlers, known as “planters” … that is, from among people of “British stock” and, significantly, with few exceptions, from the same social classes as in England. These might be called the middle-income entrepreneurial classes merchants, artisans and yeomen farmers …


… except in the matter of tithes, the harassment of Quakers in Ireland was less severe than in England after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. During the reign of Charles II, therefore, Ireland became the chief refuge of English Quakers trying to carry on their business in a less prohibitive environment. As a result, the Quaker community in Ireland reached its peak of strength and influence in those years.

By the arrival of the 18th century, however, their enterprises had been severely curbed. The English Parliament had passed legislation restricting Irish competition, to benefit the English woolen industry; coupled with new setbacks instigated by the Anglican Church, Friends found much impetus to migrate to the American colonies.


2 thoughts on “Generation four: the Irish Connection”

  1. You always have a well detailed and full post. I enjoy reading it very much, even if it does not touch on my family at all. However we had Quakers in our family a few hundred years ago. If you had relatives in America in the 16 or 17 hundreds chance are some of them were Quakers. One line of my Quaker family moved to Nova Scotia rather than fight in the American Revolutionary War. I am planning a trip to Canada this summer to do a little more research on them.

    1. Sometimes we find similarities in our family stories, based on their shared faith and values. The fact that there are other versions of history than the one we were taught is also fascinating.
      You never know where your research will lead.
      Here’s wishing you a wonderful time in Canada.

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