Open main menu


HODGSON, FRANCIS (1781–1852), provost of Eton, second son of James Hodgson, rector of Humber, Herefordshire, and Jane Coke, was born at Croydon 16 Nov. 1781. In 1794 he entered Eton as a pupil of Keate, and in 1799 was elected scholar of King's College, Cambridge, where he became acquainted with Denman, Merivale, and H. Drury. He graduated B.A. in 1804, M.A. 1807, and B.D. 1840. He obtained a fellowship at King's College in 1802, was private tutor for three years to the sons of Lady Ann Lambton, and in 1806 held a mastership for one year at Eton. He now contemplated the bar as a profession, but, being dissuaded by Denman, turned his attention to literature, and during the next ten years wrote many reviews, verses, translations, and rhyming letters. The most important is his translation of Juvenal (1807). In 1807 he was appointed to a resident tutorship at King's. He formed an intimate friendship with Byron, whom he visited at Newstead in 1808. In 1810 Hodgson's father died, and he undertook to pay his debts, which embarrassed him for several years until he was cleared in 1813 by a gift from Byron of 1,000l. He gave a bond for the amount, which Byron omitted to destroy, and payment was afterwards demanded by the poet's executors. Meanwhile in 1809 Hodgson had published ‘Lady Jane Grey’ and other poems, and in 1810–11 had held a long correspondence with Byron, then abroad, on religious and other topics. In 1812 he published ‘Leaves of Laurel.’ In 1815 he was presented to the curacy of Bradden, Northamptonshire, and in 1816 to the living of Bakewell, Derbyshire. He had some correspondence with Lord Byron and Mrs. Leigh in regard to the separation of Lord and Lady Byron. He made an appeal to Lady Byron, who replied civilly, but he did not discover the cause of the quarrel.

In 1836 Hodgson became archdeacon of Derby, and in 1838 was presented to Edensor, which he held together with Bakewell. In 1840, by the queen's desire, he was appointed provost of Eton, and soon afterwards rector of Cottesford. He sanctioned the reforms suggested by Edward Craven Hawtrey [q. v.], the head-master. Hodgson died at Eton on 29 Dec. 1852. In 1814 he married his first wife, Miss Tayler, who died in 1833, and in 1838 his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Lord Denman. Besides the works already noticed, Hodgson published: 1. ‘Sir Edgar, a Tale,’ &c., 1810. 2. ‘Charlemagne, or The Church Delivered’ (trans. from the French of Lucien Buonaparte by Rev. S. Butler and Rev. F. Hodgson, 1815). 3. ‘The Friends, a Poem,’ 1818 (cf. Smiles, Murray, ii. 34). 4. ‘Mythology for Versification’ (ed. by F. C. Hodgson, 1862; 2nd ed. 1866).

[Sir J. Arnould's Memoir of Lord Denman, 1873, i. 16, 39, 82, 115, 294, ii. 87–8, 104–6, 218–24, 342; J. T. Hodgson's Memoir of Rev. F. Hodgson, 1878 (chiefly correspondence); Moore's Diary, v. 191, 216, 251; Moore's Life of Byron. Table Talk of B. R. Haydon (ii. 367–8) gives on the authority of Hobhouse an apparently spiteful account of Hodgson's relations to Byron.]

N. D. F. P.