Beginning with John Hodgson of Murton

Around the last years of the reign of Henry VIII, a baby born in the northwestern corner of England was given the name John Hodgson. He was hardly the only one of this name, for Cumbria and Durham to the east were already rife with Hodgsons – a surname that within a century would fill the parish books with more than 20 variant spellings, many of them continuing to the present. But he was the only one destined to work a particular piece of land he would own, a property of less than 50 acres in the township of Lamplugh, a hamlet or farm called Murton.

We cannot be certain when he was christened John Hodgson, for the Lamplugh parish records do not begin until 1582, even though the church there dates from the 12th century.

Situated in the northwest corner of England, Cumbria is a region encompassing the historic shires, or counties, of Cumberland (with Carlisle and Cockermouth its principal cities) and Westmorland. Its parish records from the late 1500s and through the 1600s make one thing quite clear: there was a multitude Hodgsons in Cumbria, including many John Hodgsons. The name itself appears in a number of variants, including Hodgeon, Hodgeshon, Hodgeson, Hodgesoun, Hodggin, Hodgheson, Hodghn, Hodghon, Hodghson, Hodgin, Hodgon, Hodgshon, Hodshon, and Hodson. Even in Lamplugh Parish, the proliferation of Hodgsons proves difficult. Sorting for a locator, such as “of Murton,” narrows the field, but I was at a loss to understand exactly what exactly was involved, much less whether other relative individuals were being excluded as a consequence.

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