Hodgkin, John (1800-1875) (DNB00)
HODGKIN, JOHN (1800–1875), barrister and quaker preacher, son of John Hodgkin (1766–1845) [q. v.], was born at Pentonville, London, on 11 March 1800. He and his brother Thomas [q. v.] were educated at home, partly by their father, and, besides receiving a very thorough classical training, acquired a taste for physical science. John Stuart Mill was one of the few associates of their boyhood. Having chosen the profession of the law, John Hodgkin became a pupil of Harrison, a conveyancer, who belonged to the school of Preston and of Brodie. As a conveyancer Hodgkin successfully represented and carried forward the traditions of this school, which aimed at conciseness and brevity, at a time when the legislature had not yet interfered to curtail the intolerably diffuse style of legal documents. He soon obtained a large practice, but was chiefly eminent as a teacher of law. His chambers were always crowded with pupils, with whom he read for an hour a day some legal text-book, even when fully occupied with his practice. He was an earnest advocate of legal reform, and published about 1827 a pamphlet entitled ‘Observations on the Establishment of a General Register of Titles,’ strongly pleading for that measure. He rarely appeared in court except to uphold some opinion which he had given on a disputed question of title; and at the early age of forty-three, in consequence of a severe illness, he retired from the legal profession, and devoted the remainder of his life to religious and philanthropic work. He held a high position among the preachers of the quaker body, visited their congregations in Ireland, France, and America, and was for two years ‘clerk’ to their yearly meeting, a position corresponding to that of moderator in the church of Scotland. His visit to America in 1861 was especially important from its coincidence with the outbreak of the civil war, which made the position of the quakers one of peculiar difficulty, as their two great ‘testimonies’ against war and against slavery tended to draw them in opposite directions. At the time of the Irish famine of 1845–6 John Hodgkin assisted zealously in the work of the relief committees established by his co-religionists in Dublin and London. He struggled long, but in the end unsuccessfully, to introduce improved methods of fishing among the seafaring population of the ‘Claddagh,’ near Galway. He also had a large share in the preparation of the Encumbered Estates Act (1849), a measure which, as he hoped, would remove some of the worst economical evils under which Ireland was labouring. The position of one of the judges of the court founded by this act was offered him by Lord John Russell, but he declined it. During the last ten or twelve years of his life he took an active part in the proceedings of the Social Science congress.
His youth and middle life were passed at Tottenham. Thence he removed at the age of fifty-eight to Lewes, where he resided during the latter years of his life. He died at Bournemouth on 5 July 1875, aged 75. He was thrice married, and left issue by each marriage. His first wife was Elizabeth, daughter of Luke Howard [q. v.]