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Memoir of Francis Hodgson
Chapter I.

Vol. 1 Contents
‣ Chapter I.
Chapter II. 1794-1807.
Chapter III. 1807-1808.
Chapter IV. 1808.
Chapter V. 1808-1809.
Chapter VI. 1810.
Chapter VII. 1811.
Chapter VIII. 1811.
Chapter IX. 1811.
Chapter X. 1811-12.
Chapter XI. 1812.
Chapter XII. 1812-13.
Chapter XIII. 1813-14.
Vol. 2 Contents
Chapter XIV. 1815-16.
Chapter XV. 1816-18.
Chapter XVI. 1815-22.
Chapter XVII. 1820.
Chapter XVIII. 1824-27.
Chapter XIX. 1827-1830
Chapter XX. 1830-36.
Chapter XXI. 1837-40.
Chapter XXII. 1840-47.
Chapter XXIII. 1840-52.
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About the middle of the last century the rectory of Humber, in Herefordshire, was held by the Rev. James Hodgson.

Born towards the close of the reign of Queen Anne, in the year 1711, he received his early education at the school of Hawkshead, in the Lake District, in Lancashire, at that time a school of considerable importance, at which the poet Wordsworth was subsequently educated. Ordained to the curacy of Humber, he served that parish for many years as curate before he was presented to its rectory by King George III. His sound theological learning, and the
earnest piety of his disposition, are amply attested by the many sensible and practical sermons which he left; and for the twenty years during which he held the living he appears to have led the useful, unobtrusive life of a country clergyman, in the faithful discharge of his parochial duties, and in quiet intercourse with the families in the neighbourhood. About the year 1735 he married
Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. Henry Vaughan, vicar of the neighbouring parish of Leominster.

The general question of hereditary influences is perhaps more fitted for the discussion of the genealogist than of the biographer; but when characteristic traits are distinctly noticeable in successive generations of a family, some mention of them in a biography cannot be considered to be foreign to its subject and purpose. The intense love of poetry which exercised so strong an influence upon the character of Francis Hodgson, the subject of the present memoir, does not appear to have been inherited from his father or grandfather, although both exhibited a fondness for classical compositions in prose and verse. But there is more reason to suppose that the poetic faculty may have descended to him from the family of Vaughans into which his grandfather married. It may not therefore be considered altogether irrelevant or un-
interesting to mention briefly what is known of this talented family.

In the short biographical sketch appended to the poems of Henry Vaughan, the Silurist,1 edited by the Rev. H. F. Lyte, some account is given of its origin. We there read that

The poet Vaughan was descended from one of the most ancient and respectable families of the Principality, deducing its pedigree from the ancient kings of that country. Two of his ancestors, Sir Roger Vaughan and Sir David Gam, lost their lives at the battle of Agincourt. His great-grandmother was Lady Frances Somerset, daughter of Thomas Somerset, third son of Henry, Earl of Worcester; and the possessions of the Vaughan family were very extensive, both in Brecknockshire and other parts of Wales. The chief family residence was the castle of Tretower, in the parish of Cwmdû, and when it was dismantled, Skethrock or Scethrog, in the same neighbourhood. At this latter place Shakspeare is said to have paid a visit to one of the family, and his commentator, Malone, thinks that it was perhaps there that he picked up the

1 That part of the Welsh border in which the Vaughans lived was called Siluria.

word ‘Puck,’ concerning the origin of which some of his critics have been much puzzled. ‘Pooky,’ in Welsh, signifies a goblin, and near Skethrog exists a valley Cwm-Pooky, the goblin’s vale, which belonged to the Vaughans, and which a tradition, still extant, states to have been a favourite resort of some distinguished bard, who had once visited that neighbourhood. From Tretower Henry Vaughan’s grandfather migrated to Newton in the parish of Llansainfread, and there, in 1621, the poet was born.

His life presents a pleasing picture of pious learning and loyal devotion to the cause of his king; and his poetry which is much in the style of George Herbert, although of a more refined character throughout, is replete with original sentiments clothed in quaint but vigorous language.

It appears probable that the property of the Vaughans was confiscated at the period of the Commonwealth, sharing the fate which was common to that of many other adherents of the Royal Cause. Be this as it may, we find as a fact that in the next generation but one, the vicarage of Leominster, in the same county, was held by the Rev. Henry Vaughan. The father of the vicar is known to have been Dr.
William Vaughan, probably the son or nephew of the poet, a physician at Leyden, and subsequently in practice in London and at the court of Queen Mary, wife of William III., whom he appears to have previously attended and to have accompanied to England. In 1676 he married Miss Newton, sister of Sir Henry Newton, who was employed by Queen Anne as envoy-extraordinary to the great Duke of Tuscany, and to the republic of Genoa. Sir Henry Newton married a Manning, and his two daughters, Mary and Catherine, married respectively Henry Rodney, the father of the distinguished admiral Lord Rodney, and Lord Aubrey Beauclerk, youngest son of the first Duke of St. Albans. With the latter lady, who was his first cousin, Henry Vaughan, vicar of Leominster, had much interesting correspondence. In one of her letters she begs him to write an epitaph on her father, Sir Henry Newton, ‘whose life,’ she adds, ‘a gentleman is writing at Gottingen; who writes the life I know not, nor where Gottingen is at this present.’ The MS. copy of this epitaph by Henry Vaughan is extant, and is a curious specimen of the lapidary Latin of the period. An English translation is appended to it, at the close of which its readers are reminded that

On his return from Genoa (having discharged his high
trust with successful fidelity) he was, by Her Majesty’s Royal munificence, appointed Master of St. Catharine’s Hospital. In the beginning of the reign of
King George I. he was made judge of the High Court of Admiralty as a proof of the high esteem that wise prince had of his knowledge and integrity. A lover he was of good men and by them beloved, but in an especial manner dear to the renowned Lord Somers, Chancellor of England; whose friendship was an honour he worthily accounted among the greatest which he enjoyed. In the execution of his office whilst he was doing his duty, he died. His most loving wife, mortally wounded with the same stroke, scarcely surviving, sighed away her breath, faithful companion of his life and death.

Henry Vaughan was acquainted with Dean Swift, and appears to have been a cultivated and agreeable person. His sermons are sensible and pointed, and his tenure of the vicarage was distinguished by energy and prudence, to which ample testimony is borne by the ‘History of Leominster,’ lately republished. He was vicar nearly forty years. During his incumbency many important improvements were made in the beautiful parish church, now undergoing restoration by
Sir Gilbert Scott. The adorning of the altar by Mr. Locke in 1725, the augmentation of the benefice in 1730 by the collection of £400, half paid by the parishioners and half by Queen Anne’s Bounty; the grants given by the vestry for the daily reading of the prayers; the reflooring and levelling of the north aisle in 1734; the erection of the first organ after the fire in 1737; the increase and recasting of the bells in 1756: all these various proceedings speak of a good understanding between himself and his parishioners, and are memorials of his work and usefulness. They are, moreover, interesting as evidences of religious earnestness at a period which it is the fashion of the present day to decry as altogether barren of ecclesiastical energy, and equally devoid of all zeal and practical improvement in matters connected with Church work and discipline.

The vicar died in 1762 aged 75, and was buried by his son-in-law, the Rev. James Hodgson, rector of Humber, in woollen, pursuant to the statute in that case made and provided. This statute, which was repealed in the reign of George III., was passed in 1678 for the encouragement of the woollen trades. He had two sons, of one of which there remains a copy of poems in manuscript under the title ‘Poematum Miscellaneorum Eruditissimi Domini Gulielmi
Vaughan ex oppido Leominstriae Editio novissima, 1737.’ Their style is not unlike that of
Henry Vaughan, the Swan of the Usk, of whom mention has been made above, and the poetry comprises a curious combination of classical and religious subjects, pastoral poems and love songs being strangely intermingled with arguments against atheism such as, it is to be feared, a modern sceptic would scarcely consider convincing. Several of these poems are addressed to the writer’s sister, Mrs. Hodgson.

Henry Vaughan, the favourite physician of George IV., who, on being created a baronet, assumed the arms and surname of Sir Charles Halford, whose widow he married; Sir John Vaughan, judge of the Common Pleas; Dr. Peter Vaughan, Dean of Chester; and Sir Charles Vaughan, envoy-extraordinary to the United States, were great-grandsons of the vicar of Leominster; and Dr. Vaughan, the present master of the Temple, is his great-great-grandson.

James, the son of James and Elizabeth Hodgson (née Vaughan), was educated at Charterhouse under Dr. Crusius, and matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1766, where he took the usual degrees. The expenses for taking an M.A. degree a hundred years ago may be amusingly compared with those of the present day.

£ s. d.
For a Liceat to do Quodlibets 0 0 6
For Six Wall-Lectures 0 3 0
For a Liceat to do Augustines 0 14 0
For Ditto to Declamations 0 7 6
For Ditto to Examination 0 10 0
For the use of Schools and Hoods 0 4 0
To Proctor’s Men 0 2 0
To Dispensations—Regency Degree 7 9 0
To the Xt. Ch: Library 0 18 0
To the Presenter 0 10 6
To the Common Room 0 6 8
To Gown 1 18 0
To Hood 1 10 0
To Cap 0 7 6
To Scout for Attendance 0 5 0
£15 5 2

In 1771, James Hodgson the younger was ordained deacon as curate to his father’s church of Humber, in the rectory of which he subsequently succeeded his father. Two years later he took priest’s orders, and, being a sound scholar and noted for impressive eloquence in the pulpit, he had not long to wait for preferment. In 1774, through the influence of the first Lord Liverpool, who was also a Carthusian, he was appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the mastership of the school and hospital founded by Archbishop Whitgift at Croydon, to which was
attached the neighbouring rectory of Keston. In the following year he married
Jane, daughter of the Rev. Richard Coke of Lower Moor, in his native county of Herefordshire, and on November 16, 1781, his second son, Francis, was born at Croydon.

The tender affection which Francis Hodgson ever entertained towards his mother and her family evidently exercised a strong influence upon his disposition, and hereditary Coke characteristics were manifested in many traits of his character. A memoir of his life would therefore be incomplete without some brief notice of this ancient, and, in the case of several of its members, distinguished family. Further particulars which had been written for this memoir have been anticipated by the ‘Life of Lord Melbourne,’ whose descent from the Cokes in the female line was precisely similar to that of Francis Hodgson.

Originally settled in Derbyshire, the Cokes were located about its borders from the time of the Norman Conquest. In the ‘History of Melbourne’ in that county it is stated that the first member of the family actually resident within the limits of Derbyshire was one Robert Coke, who established himself at Trusley in the reign of Edward II. His descendants for some centuries after this were content to
enjoy their position as lords of the land, ambitious only to add lustre to the good name which the family had held from the remotest antiquity, and to pursue the quiet yet useful lives of English country gentlemen. It is probable that the Norfolk Cokes, to which the Great Chief-Justice
Sir Edward Coke belonged (of whom, notwithstanding his many faults, no less an authority than Lord Bacon has said that ‘Without him the law had been like a ship without ballast’), and from whom the earls of Leicester are lineally descended, were a branch of this family. About 1570 Richard Coke of Trusley married Mary Sacheverell, who inherited from her father considerable possessions in Nottinghamshire. Their joint fortune enabled them to acquire possession of Melbourne Castle in South Derbyshire, originally part of the royal demesne, and annexed by King John, by a strange caprice of patronage, to the see of Carlisle, as an episcopal residence. Their eldest son, Sir Francis Coke, married a daughter of the celebrated Denzil, Lord Holles; Sir John Coke, his brother, became Secretary of State to Charles I; while a third son, George, obtained the see of Bristol and afterwards that of Hereford. Sir John Coke was a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1584, and was elected to the professorship of rhetoric in that Univer-
sity,1 in which employment he so distinguished himself by his ingenious and critical lectures, that rhetoric seemed to be not so much an art to him as his nature. Then after travelling beyond the seas for some time and returning rich in languages, remarks, and experience, he retired into the country as a private gentleman until he was more than fifty years of age, when, ‘upon some reputation he had for industry and diligence, he was called to a painful employment in the navy, which he discharged well, and was made secretary thereof.’ He was Secretary of State for about twenty years, representing his University in Parliament; and
Lord Clarendon, who had a strong prejudice against him, is obliged to confess that the secretary had gotten Latin learning enough,’ and there are evidences still extant to prove that he was a statesman of no mean capabilities; prudent, thoughtful, honourable, and endowed with a cultivated taste and polished mind.

The ‘History of Melbourne’ gives a picturesque account of the ancient art of falconry, to which the secretary and his son and daughter were particularly attached. They kept several ‘castes’ of falcons, and in their quaint letters make many allusions to hawks and hawking. Sir John the younger, who was

1 Clarendon’s History of the Rebellion.

knighted during his father’s lifetime, sat in the Long Parliament, and was one of the judges on
Strafford’s trial, writes humorously:

Mr. Harpur, son of Sir John Harpur of Calke, comes often hither (to Melbourne), pretending to see my hawks fly, but in reality to see my sister.

George Coke, brother to the secretary, was made Bishop of Bristol in 1632, and translated to Hereford in 1636. He was one of those bishops who signed the petition and protestation to Charles I. and the House of Lords against any laws which had been passed during their enforced and violent absence from the House; and upon the accusation of high treason by the Commons, he was, with the other subscribers, committed to the Tower of London, where they remained until the bill for putting them into the House was passed, which was not until many months after.1 The committee of Hereford confiscated his estates in the parish of Eardisley, and he was dependent upon his relations for maintenance. Walker, in his ‘Sufferings of the Clergy,’ says that this hard usage hastened his death, which happened in 1646; though Lloyd says that he bore his sufferings with admirable calmness and serenity, and adds that he

1 Burke’s  Commoners of England.

was a pious and learned man.
Lord Clarendon also describes him as meek, grave, and quiet, and much beloved by those who were subject to his jurisdiction.

The bishop died in 1646, and was buried in Eardisley Church. In Hereford Cathedral a handsome cenotaph was raised to his memory, which has lately been restored by some of his descendants. In the inscription on this cenotaph we are told that he ennobled his generous birth with every instance of virtue worthy of his ancestors; and though every allowance must be made for the unchastened spirit of the Restoration, in which, as has been justly observed, the inscription was written, there can be but little doubt that he was a person of distinguished learning, of great firmness and discretion, and of a singular piety.

From Secretary Coke was descended the Right Honourable Thomas Coke, Vice-Chamberlain to Queen Anne, who married, first, a daughter of Lord Chesterfield; afterwards, Miss Hale, a maid of honour to the Queen, remarkable for her beauty and accomplishments. She appears to have been a favourite with the Duchess of Marlborough, who describes her as ‘a verie pretty young woman, and of a verie good family.’ Swift says, in his Journal to Stella:

Mr. Coke, the Vice-Chamberlain, made me a long
visit this morning, but the toast, his lady, was unfortunately engaged to
Lady Sutherland. She was also on terms of friendship with the poet Gay. Lord Chesterfield, writing to his daughter, Lady Mary Coke, complains of his own son, Wootton Stanhope, and wishes that he was like her husband, Mr. Coke, and adds: ‘If in his place I had a son like your husband, I should have gone out of the world with the satisfaction of believing that I had left one behind me who would make one of the greatest men in England.’ Mr. Coke’s society was much sought by the wits and fine gentlemen of the day. With Lord Bolingbroke, particularly, he was on terms of the greatest intimacy; with the great Duke and Duchess of Marlborough he was well acquainted, and is said to have been the original of Pope’s Sir Plume in the ‘Rape of the Lock.’

Charlotte Coke, daughter of the Vice-Chamberlain, in 1755 married Sir Matthew Lamb, and (her brother dying without issue) succeeded to Melbourne Castle, which thus became the property of her husband’s family, and gave his title to her son, the first Lord Melbourne, the father of the great Prime Minister.

The wife of the Rev. James Hodgson was de-
scended in the direct male line from the
Bishop of Hereford. She died at the early age of thirty-six, and her son, Francis, cherished her memory with affectionate reverence to the last years of his life. Her husband has left a touching tribute to her worth, written soon after her death, which gives some idea of the pure maternal influences which, doubtless, had no slight share in developing the gentle and deeply religious temperament of her son.

She was naturally disposed to be grave and serious in her manners, and even in youth had none of that trifling levity which is so common in the generality of young people. . . . Ever to be honoured as well as loved, she had such a gentleness, such a graceful composure in all she said and did, such a desire to oblige, such a modest attention to her friends, as made her company more delightful than I can now express. Fond of retirement, her sole study was my happiness and welfare, and that of her children and family. Her steady perseverance in what her strong good sense showed her was right, her scorn of whatever was extravagant, mean, or base, her superiority to all that was vain or frivolous, the decided preference which she gave to what was solid and useful to all that was showy and unnecessary, were excellencies that place her
above most married women. But as a mother she shone with still brighter lustre. It was with her a most sacred duty to attend to every circumstance that was nearly or remotely connected with the health and improvement of her children; she never, in any one instance, nor in the most trying situations, remitted in the smallest degree that love and anxious care she felt for them. Sleep, and food, and friends, and health, all were sacrificed to them. She lived for them, and her end was probably accelerated by her unwearied solicitude for their good. Her religious principles, formed by education, were confirmed by reflection and the daily practice of prayer and reading the Scriptures, which were her chief delight. Her sincere faith in the Gospel supported her alike in sorrows and sickness, and, speaking peace at the last, enabled her to meet her fate with the same composed resignation which she possessed in all her life.

Francis Hodgson himself always attributed his intense fondness for Holy Scripture to his early religious training and to the daily reading of the Psalms at his mother’s knee. He felt her loss keenly for many years after her death, which occurred when he was quite young. His elementary classical
education was conducted by his father, of whom he writes in terms of deep gratitude and affection; and in July 1794 he was sent to Eton, passed his examination for college at that election, and so first became a member of that great foundation, over which, after the lapse of nearly half a century, he was destined to preside as Provost.