By Peter Saul
This article was published in the April 2016 edition of Soul Search, the Journal of The Sole Society
Recently I was looking around the local Antiques Fair, which takes place in the Town Hall in Towcester, Northamptonshire, on most Fridays. One item that caught my eye was a pile of indenture documents; this was the old name of ‘Deeds’, very often for leasing land, or sometimes for mortgages on land or property. I have a number of such documents dating back to 1715, mainly written on vellum, and with the typical scalloped edging, hence the name indenture. Traditionally, two copies were made on one piece of vellum, then cut apart in a wavy line, so that would be proof, if ever needed, that the two had originally been one.
The documents in the market were much newer, from the late 1800s, and on heavy paper, though they mainly stuck to the tradition of almost indecipherable writing and tedious and repetitive prose. However, one included the name Hodgson. I knew that a Mary or Martha Hodgson (both names are used on different documents) had married into my paternal line just over 200 years ago. The stallholder only wanted £1 each, so I took all eight for the bargain price of £6.00!
On returning home, I read the document. It was a mortgage on land and buildings at Kingsthorpe, then a village outside Northampton, about nine miles from me and dated 1894. The person involved on one part was Jemima Hodgson. When I looked her up, she was born in Westmorland. This was immediately an interesting link, since the Sauls in my family lived in Westmorland or the adjacent part of Lancashire from 1600 to 1877, and some still do. In this context, I was looking for a Hodgson, and the name Jemima was helpful because it is relatively rare, while Hodgson is fairly common.
First, I followed the name forward using the Census for 1901. By that time, Jemima Hodgson was living with her daughter, also Jemima, but with a B middle initial, at Pattishall, a village only about four miles from me in Towcester. By the 1911 census, they were living in Towcester, but unfortunately no address was shown on the form. Using www.deceasedonline.com. I found that the older Jemima Hodgson died in 1914 and Jemima B Hodgson died in 1944, both deaths in Towcester.
Working backwards through the censuses, Jemima B Hodgson was the daughter of Matthias Hodgson and Jemima Hodgson (neé Blackett), the mortgagee of the document that started this who was born Westmorland, in 1830. Matthias Hodgson, born 1831 in Appleby, was the son of George Hodgson, born 1792 also in Appleby. George had a sister Mary Hodgson, born in 1777 in Appleby, and she married William Saul in 1800. William Saul was born in Cartmel, and was at Sandyeat from 1800 to 1829, and then moved to Asby. He farmed at Goodle Hill farm (now Goodlie Hill farm) outside Asby, about four miles from Appleby.
Of course, it is possible that this identity is incorrect, but I have checked all the other Mary or Martha Hodgsons, and she is the only local one, and was of the correct age. She would be the most likely candidate. She had another brother, William Hodgson. A William Hodgson was listed as Land Agent for William Saul on one of my Saul indentures, in 1835. Again, this is on the basis of most likely, I cannot be certain. William Saul had some near neighbours, on the same page of the 1841 census, also called Hodgson, but with neither of the names Mary or Martha, and this was also the case when I traced that family through FamilySearch to earlier dates. William and Mary Saul had daughters Mary Ann and Martha, so both names recurred in the family. Mary Ann had two ‘natural’ sons, the first being my great-great Grandfather, John Saul, born at Asby in 1831. Thus, my great-great-great-great grandmother was the sister of Jemima B Hodgson’s grandfather. Earlier generations of Hodgsons also show up in my collection of family deeds, including selling land to Jonah Hodgson in 1743.
Interestingly, along the way, Matthias Hodgson and the first Jemima lived for some time in West Derby, Liverpool, where my great grandfather’s brothers John and Daniel lived about 20 years later.
I therefore have a document showing that a very distant relative by marriage lived in the county where I live now, and evidence from the censuses that she later lived within a mile or so of where I write this now. The evidence for the link in the early years must be on balance of probabilities, but it is reasonably strong. Quite a coincidence!