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Hodgson, Sir Arthur (1818–1902)

by D. B. Waterson

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

Arthur Hodgson (1818-1902), by unknown photographer

Arthur Hodgson (1818-1902), by unknown photographer

State Library of New South Wales, GPO 1 - 17640

Sir Arthur Hodgson (1818-1902), squatter, politician and squire, was born on 29 June 1818 at Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, England, the second son of Rev. Edward Hodgson (1776-1854) and his third wife Charlotte, daughter of Francis William Pemberton of Bombay, India, and sister of Colonel F. C. Pemberton of Trumpington Hall, Cambridge. Christopher Hodgson was his younger brother.

Educated at Eton in 1828-33 Hodgson entered the navy and in 1833-37 was a midshipman in H.M.S. Canopus on the China station. In 1837-38 he was at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and in 1839 went to Sydney. After experience on a station, he leased Cashiobury run in the New England district. Persuaded by Patrick Leslie to seek new land, Hodgson and his partner, Gilbert Eliott, moved north in July 1840 and in September took up Eton Vale, the second run on the Darling Downs. Although he occupied the choicest pastoral country in Queensland, Aboriginals, scab, low prices, transport difficulties and mercantile depression so beset him that in the first ten years 'he could not realize the small capital he brought out with him'. He even hawked legs of mutton around Brisbane, probably more as a symbolic gesture than an attempt to help his finances. On 30 March 1842 Hodgson married Eliza (1822-1902), the second daughter of Sir James Dowling; they had seven children. A daughter, Annie Frances, married Viscount Lifford, and two others the sons of baronets. Eton Vale became the centre of Darling Downs society, and the Hodgsons unofficial leaders of the Pure Merinos. By the 1850s his economic position was secure and he served as general superintendent of the Australian Agricultural Co. in 1856-61.

Hodgson entered political life as the prime mover of the Moreton Bay and Northern Districts Separation Association, but his trenchant advocacy of convict labour, colonial peerages, National education and a restricted franchise drew the fire of the lower orders. Despite defeat by John Dunmore Lang in a twice-disputed election for Stanley County in 1854, Hodgson won the Clarence and Darling Downs seat in the New South Wales parliament in 1858 and Newcastle in 1859. In 1868-69 he represented Warrego in the Queensland Legislative Assembly and served in (Sir) Robert Mackenzie's ministry as secretary for public works and goldfields in September-November 1868 and as colonial secretary in the Lilley ministry from January to November 1869 when Hodgson left the colony. As a politician he was not a success. Though an excellent lecturer his attitudes were too obsolete and inflexible for a developing colony, and despite his straightforward character he was intolerant in debate. While travelling in England and Europe in 1862-67 he had represented Queensland at exhibitions in London and Paris; he played the same role at Vienna in 1874, Paris in 1878 and London in 1886. For these services he was appointed C.M.G. in 1878 and K.C.M.G. in 1886.

In 1870 Hodgson settled in England. He visited Queensland several times and helped to promote the frozen meat trade. His profits from Eton Vale steadily rose to a peak of nearly £20,000 in 1874, covering the capital invested in the 90,000 freehold acres (36,422 ha) and 83,000 sheep. He was singularly fortunate in his two Scotch managing partners, John Watts and Robert Ramsay, in Queensland, together with his own business sense and rare capacity to refrain from speculation. In 1873 Hodgson had bought the Clopton estate near Stratford-on-Avon and as a squire devoted himself to charitable, sporting and social activities. He was mayor in 1883-88, high steward of the borough in 1884-89, deputy-lieutenant and high sheriff of Warwickshire in 1881 and was also honorary colonel of the 2nd battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was upright and inflexible but made few enemies as his ambitions carried him to high place. A staunch Anglican, he died at Clopton House on 24 December 1902. His privately printed pamphlets on Shakespeare and In Memoriam were issued in memory of his wife in 1903. In Queensland a hamlet near Roma and a farming district on the Darling Downs were named after him.

His portrait by H. J. Thaddeus is in the Stratford-on-Avon Town Hall and an engraving from an original drawing by C. W. Walton is in the Mitchell Library.

Select Bibliography

  • H. S. Russell, The Genesis of Queensland (Syd, 1888)
  • F. H. Hodgson, In Memory of Sir Arthur Hodgson (np, 1904)
  • R. Gollan, The Coalminers of New South Wales (Melb, 1963)
  • Parliamentary Debates (Queensland), 1869
  • Warwick Examiner and Times, 5 June 1869
  • Brisbane Courier, 3 July 1869, 27 Dec 1902
  • Times (London), 25 Dec 1902
  • Pastoral Review, 15 Jan 1903.

Citation details

D. B. Waterson, 'Hodgson, Sir Arthur (1818–1902)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hodgson-sir-arthur-1155/text5963, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 22 December 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

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