Saturday, December 31, 2011

The 'other' Sebastian Hodge, of Barnstaple (Devon) and Bathurst (NSW)

My HODGE family from Barnstaple intrigue me - particularly the prevalence of the name Sebastian. In fact, at the time my ancestor Sebastian Hodge (1833-1889) was living in Sydney, there was another Sebastian Hodge (1829-1895) from Barnstaple, Devon living in Bathurst NSW. When I started my family history research this made for a very confusing state of affairs ( I have since found that the two Sebastians in NSW were cousins (their fathers were brothers) - my Sebastian in Sydney being the son of William HODGE (1811 Barnstaple - 1863 Gundagai NSW) both of whom were in the 11th Regiment of Foot - and the other Sebastian being the son of Sebastian (1808 Barnstaple - 1886 Goulburn NSW).

In my research I had certainly found Sebastian was a family name - the first was Sebastian Hodge, born 1709 in Burrington, Devon to John HODGE and Susan nee MOYSE. I believe the name Sebastian actually came at that time from the MOYSE family. There are a series of children baptised in Burrington from 1668-1687 baptised to Sebastian and Johan (Joan) MOYSE. Susan does not appear but is probably their child as the Sebastian name runs down the HODGE line from there. At any rate Sebastian Hodge had moved to Barnstaple by 1737 where he married Grace REED (1713-1785).

While my William HODGE and his son Sebastian were in the 11th Regiment of Foot which brought them to NSW, his cousin emigrated in a civil capacity as an assisted immigrant on the 'Rose of Sharon' in 1855. His father, like himself, was a carpenter/joiner, and he ended up in Bathurst (perhaps chasing gold).  Conveniently, Sebastian of Bathurst had his biography included in Aldine’s Centennial History of NSW 1888:

Aldine’s Centennial History of NSW 1888
Biographical Volume.
Entry for Bathurst (part 2) (no pagination), Taken from State Library of NSW material – Fiche 12 – 15
Sebastian Hodge Mr Hodge was born in Barnstaple, England in 1829 and educated in the Blue Coat School of that town. He learned the trade of carpenter and joiner and came to the colony in 1854 (sic), settling in Bathurst immediately thereafter. He commenced by engaging himself to be a cabinetmaker and undertaker and 18 months later was enabled to purchase the business to which he added a timberyard. His trade rapidly increased, till the house became the most important of its kind in Bathurst, thus affording an example of what may be achieved in the colony by perseverance and integrity for Mr Hodge arrived in Bathurst with only a sovereign in his pocket. In 1882 Hudson Brothers bought the business from Mr Hodge for a considerable sum. In 1881 Mr Hodge revisited England for the benefit of his health and returned shortly thereafter. In 1857 he married and now has a family of 10 children, his sons being all well established in various trades and occupations. 

Amazingly, the National Musem of Australia holds a coach owned by Sebastian Hodge and his son W S Hodge that they used in their business at Bathurst (

With the (costly) access to British newspapers on-line I have been looking into information on my Hodge ancestors. While I've found little on my direct line, my ancestor's cousin got quite a bit of coverage in the North Devon Journal, possibly because his family was still there - his father Sebastian (mentioned above), and his mother Susannah nee AUSTIN (1802 - 1880 Barnstaple).

In searching through ALL the Hodge entries in the New South Wales in the 1800's, I knew when the cousins had died, and the death registrations provided their parents names so I had everything in place. However, there was the death of a "Sebastian, son of Sebastian, in Gouburn NSW" in 1886. It took a while to realise that Sebastian of Bathurst's father must have moved to Australia some time very late in his life! 

These articles explain more about the circumstances that came to pass to allow this to happen.

1. Sarah/Susan, wife of Sebastian senior dies in 1880.

North Devon Journal
Wed 29 Dec 1880
DEATH BY SCALDING - On Friday evening Mr. Incledon Bencraft, borough coroner, held an inquest at the Mason's Arms on the body of Sarah Hodge, who died from injuries received by being scalded. Sebastian Hodge, carpenter, stated that the deceased was his wife, and was 75 years of age. She had been afflicted with rheumatic for several years. On the 13th November last he returned from work as usual between five and six o'clock in the evening, and found his wife in a chair in the back kitchen. Some neighbours were undressing her; and on enquiry he learned that she was much scalded about the legs and groins. She afterwards told witness that she was taking the kettle from the fire when the hot water fell over her. Her clothes were dropping wet, and there was a great quantity of water on the floor. Witness went for Dr. Fernie, who sent him to the Dispensary for some scald oil, which witness applied to the deceased's legs. She appeared to be in great pain, and never recovered from the shock. She expired that morning. After hearing the evidence of Dr. Fernie as to the nature of the injuries, the jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death".

2. This article printed in North Devon explains that Sebastian junior is going to visit his homeland again, and possibly bring his father (now aged about 73) back to see out his remaining years in Australia.

North Devon Journal
Wed 22 Jun 1881
A BARNSTAPLE MAN IN NEW SOUTH WALES. A newspaper published at Bathurst, Australia, on April 30th, gives the following: DEPARTURE OF AN OLD BATHURST RESIDENT FOR ENGLAND. One of Bathurst's old residents has determined to make a few months visit to the land of his birth - old England. Mr Sebastian Hodge commenced business in Bathurst some 27 years ago in a very humble manner, and at that time little dreamed that a quarter of a century hence would see him the sole proprietor of one of the most extensive and most complete establishments as a timber merchant and manufacturer in the colony. For many years Mr. S. Hodge was content to creep along in a small way, but he did so with his eyes open and with that strict business integrity which gained for him the confidence and esteem of his fellow-citizens and the commercial firms in the metropolis. With the advancement of the Great Western Railway, and the impetus thus given to settlement on the line of progress, Mr. Hodge prepared himself for greater efforts. Labour-saving machinery of the most approved kinds, worked by steam power supplied the place of manual labour, and giving employment to a large number of skilled and unskilled workmen. Cabinet making and turnery formed an important branch of the establishment, and what was even important, entire dwelling houses were manufactured on the premises ready for erection in places far and near on a few days notice. The the establishment quietly worked its way to its present magnitude. For years past Mr. Hodge has brought his two sons into active work in the management of his business, and now on the eve of his departure leaves them in full control of his works till his return. Mr Hodge has several reasons for visiting his old home in Devonshire. His health now requires some real relaxation from active work, and a long sea voyage and visit to scenes of his childhood's happy hours, it is hoped, will result in this. He is also anxious to not only again see his aged father, but to induce him to return and spend his remaining days with his family in Bathurst. Mr Hodge will leave Sydney by the mail steamer Liguria, and we are sure that he takes with him the best wishes of the entire community, not only for a pleasant trip home, but for his safe and speedy return to our midst. [We are sure our readers, as much as ourselves will be pleased to read the above, and will at once recognise Mr. Hodge as the son of Mr. Sebastian Hodge of Trinity-street in this borough].

3. The family arrive home in Bathurst NSW

North Devon Journal
Wed 14 Dec 1881
ARRIVAL OF MR. S. HODGE AT BATHURST - The New South Wales Independent remarks : Our old friend, Mr. Sebastian Hodge, with his son and also his father, arrived in Sydney during the week by the s.s. Potosi from England. On Friday the party arrived at home in Bathurst, and was accorded a right hearty welcome. Mr. Hodge, sen., is delighted with his Australian home, both as regards the country and also in being reunited with his family. May he long live to enjoy the prosperity of both. The tourists return loaded with pleasing reminiscences of the old country, and the voyage out and home, so that we should not be surprised to find that the "home-sick" fever will shortly prevail here, and the exceptions will be among those who have no desire to take another glance at "the old house at home".

It should be noted, and is not in the newspaper articles, that along with Sebastian (junior) of Bathurst, at least two siblings also had emigrated to Australia: 
1. William HODGE (1836 Barnstaple - 1901 Parramatta NSW) who married Sarah CARSLAKE in 1860 at Edmonton All Saints, Middlesex. In 1861 he was living in London, a police constable. I also have a note that he served in the Crimean War in the 90th Regiment of Foot, but I haven't been able to 're-find' and verify that information.
2. Phillip HODGE (abt 1843 Barnstaple - 1920 Wellington NSW) who married Mary DWYER in 1864 in Sydney. He had arrived in NSW as an assisted immigrant on the 'Lady Milton' in 1862. They seem to have spent much of their time in Bathurst, and had a large number of children there.

So Sebastian senior joined quite a large clan (not to mention his nieces and nephews from my line!). I think my last remark on this long entry is that my ancestor and his cousin, Sebastians both, must surely have been in strong contact. One was well known in Bathurst, the other in Sydney, and both gained exposure in the newspapers at the time. I hope they had the chance to see one another, as they both seem to have had a strong sense of family and community.


Anonymous said...

I stumbled across this blog. I couldn't believe it actually as I am related to the Sebastion Hodge of Wellington. If you would like to contact me my email address is
My cousin is the genealogists in the family and she may even have a picture of Sebastion Hodge. Hope to hear from you :).

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