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Hodgson is a surname. In Britain, the Hodgson surname was the 173rd most common (766 per million) in 1881 and the 206th most common (650 per million) in 1998.[1] In the United States of America, Hodgson was the 3753rd most popular surname (30 per million) in the 1990 census.[2]

Origin and meaning[edit]

The surname authority P. H. Reaney (1958, p. 166) states that Hodgson is derived from "son of Hodge" and that Hodge, in turn, is a "pet-form of Roger". This view has been repeated by several others, and Reaney (1967) himself.

Roger is a Norman French name. In which case one would expect it to be more common in the South of England, which was first and more heavily settled by the Normans. An alternative explanation that Hodgson is of Anglo-Saxon origin would suggest that Hodgson would be more common in Anglo-Saxon areas, particularly in the South of England or east of the Pennines.

By contrast the Hodgsons are most numerous in Yorkshire in England, which was settled by the Norse Vikings in the tenth century.[3] Hodgson could thus be derived from the Norse name Oddgeir, as suggested by earlier surname authorities. Alternatively, it could derive from the less frequent Norse name Hrodgeir (from which, as it happens, the name Roger has evolved).

One of the earliest Victorian surname studies is by Mark Lower (1842, p. 96) who suggests that Hodgson may come from "son of Roger" but immediately adds "if not from Odo."

In a more extensive discussion of the surname, Robert Ferguson (1858) entertains a number of possibilities concerning its origin. One is to connect it to the Scandinavian first name Odda. Ferguson notes (1858, p. 225) that this name, although frequently appearing before the Norman Conquest, does not appear to be a word in the Anglo-Saxon language. He writes: "Might it not be from Old Norse oddr, a dart or arrow, whence Oddr and Oddi, common Scandinavian names?"

In two editions of his major work on British surnames, Henry Barber (1894, p. 143; 1903, p. 207) presents more than one possible explanation, and notes in particular that Hodgson may derive from the Old Norse Oddgeir-son.

Charles Bardsley (1901, p. 390) takes a similar line, offering multiple explanations including "son of Roger" but also giving due prominence to the possibility of Old Norse origins. For him, the derivation of the Hodgson surname could be from "'the son of Odo' from the nickname Oddy, sometimes Hoddy, whence Odson or Hodson. There can be no doubt that Odo is the parent of many of our Hodsons. In Yorkshire it was for two centuries one of the most popular font-names for boys."

Hodgson (2008) offers an explanation of the original meanings of Oddgeir and Hrodgeir, as well as biographies of a number of prominent Hodgsons. See also Hodgson (1925) and James (1974) for information on early Hodgson families.


The Hodson surname is less common and generally derives from Hodgson. Other probable variants of Hodgson include Hodgeson, Hodgshon, Hodshon, Hodgin, Hodgins, Hodgen, Hodgens, Hodghson, Hodgon and Hodgeon. In the North of England the "s" is often silent in the pronunciation of Hodgson. This accounts for variants such as Hodgin, Hodgen, Hodgon and Hodgeon.

Coat of arms[edit]

In heraldic language this coat of arms is "per chevron, embattled or and azure, three martlets counterchanged". According to one authority, these arms were displayed by members of the family at the Battle of Towton in Yorkshire in 1461, during the Wars of the Roses (Hodgson 1925). This was the largest battle ever fought on British soil.

Heraldic records confirm this coat of arms was displayed by the Hodgsons of Hebburn, a mine-owning Catholic family living in the North East of England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Surtees 1820, vol. 2, pp. 77, 319, James 1974, Hodgson 2008). This same coat of arms is associated with several other Hodgson families, including the Hodgsons of West Keal in Lincolnshire, the Hodgsons of Bascodyke in Cumberland (Hodgson 1925), the Hodshons of Amsterdam, and with Thomas Hodgson (1738–1817) a Liverpool merchant and slave trader, and the owner of a mill in Caton, Lancashire (Hodgson 2008).[4]

Border Reivers and Hodgson clans[edit]

For centuries before the unification of England and Scotland in 1707, the remote Anglo-Scottish borderland region had been the lair of unruly clans and gangs of robbers that were largely beyond the reach of the law. A peculiar form of clan organisation grew up in this area. This was the land of the Border Reivers. These clans recognised no legal authority other than the clan itself. They would steal goods, cattle and women from across the nominal border.

Some Hodgsons in Cumberland were themselves a clan organisation (Fraser 1971). The map above shows several clusters of Hodgsons, some of which may have functioned at some time as clans. The border clans were eventually subjection by state authorities. Many were forced or obliged to emigrate to North America in the 18th century (Fischer 1989). Many Hodgsons emigrated in this period.

Royal and presidential connections[edit]

Henrietta Mildred Hodgson (1805–1891) was a great-great-grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Mildred Porteus was Henrietta's grandmother on the paternal side. Mildred Porteus and George Washington (the First President of the United States of America) were second cousins.[5]

People with the surname[edit]


Hodgson can also be a given name:

Hodgson (2008) includes short biographies of a number of prominent Hodgsons and Hodsons.


  1. ^ "The British Surnames Website | British Surnames, Surname Distribution and Surname Profiles". Britishsurnames.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-22. 
  2. ^ "Hodgson Genealogy and Family Tree Resources - Surname Finder". Genealogytoday.com. Retrieved 2013-10-22. 
  3. ^ "nationaltrustnames.org.uk". nationaltrustnames.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-22. 
  4. ^ Officially, according to the ancient College of Arms, coats of arms are granted to individuals rather than families or surnames.
  5. ^ "The Hodgson Clan Website". Hodgson-clan.net. Retrieved 2013-10-22. 


  • Barber, Henry (1894) British Family Names: Their Origin and Meaning, first edition (London: Elliot Stock).
  • Barber, Henry (1903) British Family Names: Their Origin and Meaning, second edition (London: Elliot Stock).
  • Bardsley, Charles W. (1901) A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames (London: Henry Frowde).
  • Ferguson, Robert (1858) English Surnames and their Place in the Teutonic Family (London: George Routledge).
  • Fischer, David Hackett (1989) Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press).
  • Fraser, George MacDonald (1971) The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Reivers (London: Barrie and Jenkins).
  • Helgason, Agnar, Sigrún Sigurðardóttir, Jayne Nicholson, Bryan Sykes, Emmeline W. Hill, Daniel G. Bradley, Vidar Bosnes, Jeffery R. Gulcher, Ryk Ward, and Kári Stefánsson (2000) ‘Estimating Scandinavian and Gaelic Ancestry in the Male Settlers of Iceland’, American Journal of Human Genetics, 67(3), September, pp. 697–717.
  • Hodgson, Geoffrey M. (1993) The Hodgson Surname: Its Norse Origin and Cumbrian Location (Standon, Hertfordshire: Martlet Books).
  • Hodgson, Geoffrey M. (2008) Hodgson Saga, second edition (Standon, Hertfordshire: Martlet Books).
  • Hodgson, James (1925) 'The Hodgsons of Bascodyke', Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, New Series, 25, pp. 244–49.
  • James, Mervyn (1974) Family, Lineage, and Civil Society: A Study of Society, Politics, and Mentality in the Durham Region, 1500-1640 (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
  • Lower, Mark A. (1860) A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom (London: John Russell Smith).
  • Oppenheimer, Stephen (2006) Origins of the British (London: Robinson).
  • Reaney, P. H. (1958) A Dictionary of English Surnames, first edition (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul).
  • Reaney, P. H. (1967) The Origin of English Surnames (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul).
  • Surtees, Robert (1820) History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham, volume 2 (London: Nichols).
  • Sykes, Bryan (2006) Blood of the Isles (London: Bantam).

External links[edit]