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Clement Hodgkinson (1818–1893)

by H. W. Nunn

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Clement Hodgkinson (1818-1893), by Johnstone, O'Shannessy & Co., 1893

Clement Hodgkinson (1818-1893), by Johnstone, O'Shannessy & Co., 1893

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, IAN02/10/93/16

Clement Hodgkinson (1818-1893), public servant, was born at Southampton, England, son of Enoch Hodgkinson and his wife Emily Mary, née Evamay. He studied civil engineering in France and then worked at topographical fieldwork and mechanical drawing in England. At 21 he inherited money and went to New South Wales where in 1840-42 he was a contract surveyor for the government on the northern rivers. On 23 August 1841 at Yarribundini, Macleay River, he married Matilda Mary, née Chapman.  She died in May 1842 after giving birth to their daughter, who also died a month later. He returned to England in 1843 and published Australia, from Port Macquarie to Moreton Bay (London, 1845). As an engineer he worked on railways in France, Belgium and Holland, and lectured at the College of Geodetic Engineers, Putney.

Hodgkinson arrived at Melbourne in the Tory on 15 December 1851 intending to take up grazing but instead joined the Surveyor-General's Office in January 1852. For the select committee on Melbourne's water supply and sewerage he contoured the city area, including Richmond and Collingwood, and worked with James Blackburn on plans for the Yan Yean water supply. In 1854 he was promoted district surveyor for the Counties of Evelyn and part of Bourke. He became honorary consulting engineer for the municipal councils of Emerald Hill, Prahran, East Collingwood and Richmond in 1856 and for the Mornington district in 1857. As vice-president of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria in 1856 and 1858 he read papers on the geology of the Upper Murray and railway problems, and was elected to the first council of the Royal Society of Victoria in 1860.

Although Hodgkinson suffered from rheumatism and intended to retire, he was appointed acting surveyor-general in October 1857, and deputy to the surveyor-general, Charles Ligar, in March 1858. After reorganization in 1860 he became assistant commissioner and secretary of the new Board of Crown Lands and Survey. New land legislation in the 1860s greatly expanded the board's work. Deluged daily by a large variety of administrative detail, Hodgkinson also helped to draft amendments to the Lands Act, attended local hearings and served on many committees of inquiry, not least the 1871 royal commission on forests, a subject of major interest to him. He applied for the post of surveyor-general when Ligar retired in 1869 but Alexander Skene was appointed. Hogkinson continued as secretary but new duties increased faster than he could delegate them. His health gave way in June 1873 but against medical advice he returned to work in July. In 1874 his management was criticized at a public inquiry and he retired on a pension in May. In 1879 Hodgkinson joined the Central Board of Health and the Melbourne Harbor Trust where he helped Sir John Coode by his knowledge of Australian timbers for docks and piers. He became a commissioner for the westward extension of Melbourne in 1887 and for the International Exhibition and for sanitation in 1888. In 1891 he chaired an inquiry into the River Yarra floods.

Hodgkinson was married first, to Matilda Chapman without issue; second, to Amelia Hunt by whom he had five sons and a daughter; and third, to Annie Davis Smart by whom he had three sons and a daughter. He died aged 75 at his home in Hawthorn on 5 September 1893 and was buried in the Melbourne general cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • K. A. Patterson, ‘Clement Hodgkinson (1819-93)’, Victorian Historical Magazine, vol 39, no 3, Aug 1968, pp 127-38
  • Illustrated Australian News, 2 Oct 1893.

Citation details

H. W. Nunn, 'Hodgkinson, Clement (1818–1893)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 17 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (Melbourne University Press), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Clement Hodgkinson (1818-1893), by Johnstone, O'Shannessy & Co., 1893

Clement Hodgkinson (1818-1893), by Johnstone, O'Shannessy & Co., 1893

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, IAN02/10/93/16

Life Summary [details]


Southampton, Hampshire, England


5 September, 1893 (aged ~ 75)
Hawthorn, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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