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Hodges, William (1808-1868) (DNB00)


HODGES, Sir WILLIAM (1808–1868), chief justice of the Cape of Good Hope, eldest son of William Hodges of Weymouth, by Sarah, second daughter of William Isaac of the same place, was born at Melcombe Regis, Dorsetshire, on 29 Sept. 1808, and educated at a private school at Salisbury and the university of London. Having attended the lectures of John Austin (1790–1859) [q. v.] and Andrew Amos [q. v.], on jurisprudence and law, he was called to the bar at the Inner Temple on 3 May 1833. He went the western circuit, practising at first chiefly at quarter sessions. In 1835 he began to report cases in the court of common pleas, then presided over by Sir Nicholas Tindal, from whom he received in 1837 the appointment of revising barrister for Devon and Cornwall. In 1838 he ceased reporting in the common pleas, and began to report in the queen's bench. In 1839 he published ‘Report of the Case of the Queen v. Lumsdaine, with Observations on the Parochial Assessment Act;’ in 1840, jointly with Graham Willmore and F. L. Wollaston, ‘Reports of Cases argued and determined in the Court of Queen's Bench,’ &c., Hilary term to Michaelmas term 1838 (continued, under the title of ‘Term Reports,’ to 1841). In 1842 he published a small treatise on ‘The Law relating to the Assessment of Railways;’ in 1845 ‘The Statute Law relating to Railways in England and Ireland.’ In 1846 he was appointed recorder of Poole, Dorsetshire. In 1847 he published ‘The Law relating to Railways and Railway Companies.’ He also drafted the Public Health Act, 1848, a measure which laid the foundation of subsequent sanitary legislation. He thus acquired some parliamentary and general practice at Westminster. In 1857 he was appointed to the chief justiceship of the supreme court of the Cape of Good Hope, with which was associated the presidency of the legislative council and of the court of admiralty. At the same time he was knighted. He discharged his official duties with energy and efficiency until his death at Sea Point House, Cape Town, 17 Aug. 1868. He was honoured with a public funeral. Hodges married in 1835 Mary Schollar, daughter of James Sanders of Weymouth, by whom he had four sons, since deceased, and four daughters. Hodges's ‘Reports of Cases argued and determined in the Court of Common Pleas’ form a valuable collection of cases from Hilary term 1835 to Michaelmas term 1837, both dates inclusive. His treatise on ‘The Law of Railways’ has passed through seven editions (the last by John M. Lely of the Inner Temple, 1888), and is the standard work on the subject.

[Gent. Mag. 1868–9, ii. 256; Law Times, 26 Sept. 1868; Law Magazine and Review, xxvi. 186; Brit. Mus. Cat.; private information.]

J. M. R.