A Great Second Fleet Mystery-the Hodgetts Family

Our grandchildren are eighth generation born in Australia and are descendants of Thomas and Harriett Hodgetts, who arrived at Port Jackson on 28 June 1790 on board the Second Fleet.

I have been researching their ancestry on and off for over forty years, long before computers and the Internet, but it is only recently I have had the necessary time to devote to it again.

Originally back in the 1980’s, there was a small band of dedicated descendants of Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts, who searched the records in several libraries and archives throughout New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria. We corresponded and shared the information with each other. Several of us then contributed monies to have professional research done in Staffordshire, the native county of our Hodgetts ancestors.

Later other branches of the family became involved and this led to family reunions and the publication of the book, “The Brave Old Pioneers 1788-1988-A History of the Hodgetts,” by Richard J Hodgetts.

Much has been written about the Second Fleet and the Hodgetts in Australia in books such as the above mentioned, “ The Brave Old Pioneers” and “The Second Fleet- Britain’s Grim Convict Armada of 1790” by Michael Flynn. Several websites also tell much of the story on particular family lines.

On our Hodgetts ancestry I have collected many documents tracing the family back generation by generation in Australia, from Valerie Mary and James John Mackey (nee Hodgetts); Vernon Edward and Fedalis Hodgetts (nee Finlay); Edward and Jeanette Hodgetts (nee Wheeler); James and Mary Hodgetts (nee Fagan); John and Olivia Hodgetts (nee Lucas) to Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts. Over the last few months I checked and and reassessed all these documents.

Even though some research had been undertaken on the Hodgetts family in England many years ago, it was superficial and incomplete. I have turned my efforts to researching the family in Staffordshire, England. With the use of the Internet to search and identify documents in National and County Archives and Libraries throughout the world, and by using the facilities of the LDS to identify and order microfilms of many the parish records for Staffordshire and London, I have now been able to identify our Thomas Hodgetts. By purchasing documents and laying them out in time and context, I have been able to put together much of his life before he was transported.

Similiarly I have been able to identify his wife, Ann, and their reputed children. By tracing these forward in time, I found no evidence they emigrated to Australia at a later time. In fact they remained in their native place and some of them can be found in the census records, some sixty years later.

It has been suggested Thomas’s wife Ann, changed her name to ‘Harriet’ and came to Australia leaving the children behind. As I can now prove this was not the case, it raises the question, who was the woman who came on the Second Fleet, and later claimed to be ‘ Harriet Hodgetts’ the wife of Thomas Hodgetts?

As this woman is a direct ancestor of my husband’s family, I now need to concentrate on researching her story. A very challenging task indeed. However, I have found a woman I believe is a potential candidate and hope over the coming months with painstaking and in-depth research, I may find the documents to solve this enigma.

Meanwhile, I am writing the story of the Hodgett family in Staffordshire with references and notes to eventually share with the family, but I want to see what I can find on our ‘Harriet’ first.


69 thoughts on “A Great Second Fleet Mystery-the Hodgetts Family

  1. Hi Nola
    I too am a descendant of Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts down the John and Olivia Hodgetts line. I am intrigued by your research and would love to know more about your work! I have just returned from a trip to Tassie, taking in a exploratory trip to Longford and Cressy.

    • Hi Ruth,
      The research I’m doing on Harriet is very interesting. Getting the documents of some parts of her life is the big challenge. It has been years since we visited Tassie but planning to do so again soon before I write up this section of the family history.

  2. Hi Nola,
    I am related to these couple through their daughter Mary Maria Hodgetts, who married Thomas Graham. Any information regarding your research of Harriet (Henrietta) Ann would be of great interest to me.

    • Hi Peter,
      I have finally been able to get back to the research and hope to work on this great mystery over the next few months. It is great so many of the family are interested.
      Best wishes, Nola

    • Hi John,
      Sorry I have been so long in getting back to you, but it is only now I can return to the family research. I have been gradually putting together Harriet/Henrietta Hodgetts story although the documents are a bit elusive. We are going to England later in the year and I hope to be able to find more documents on her life before she came to Australia. Best wishes, Nola

  3. Hi nola,

    I am descended from Thomas and Harriet also through their daughter Hannah who married Robert Brumby. Anything you find out about her would be of great interest. I did a lot of research myself but my three little kids have made me put it all on the backburner

    • Thanks Katie-great to hear from you. Hopefully we will soon have Harriet’s story documented. Hope the documents I have ordered to view while I’m in London will give us some more clues.Kind Regards, Nola

  4. Hi Nola,
    Thanks for all your research. I tend to agree with you regarding Harriet but have not had another push at further research. All the best with your UK trip and further research. Would love to hear from you when you return.
    I am connected through Hannah Hodgetts and Robert Brumby.

  5. Hi Nola, Thank you for this wonderful post and information. My husband is a descendant of Eupham Graham & Matthias Lock, and Thomas & Harriet Hodgetts via Matthias’ son, Thomas Graham who married Mary Maria Hodgetts (1795-1844), and who I’ve written a blog post about – http://elladeewords.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/alls-well-that-ends-well-matthias-eupham/. I have on my to-do list a post about Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts. I too often wonder about the wife & children left behind. Best wishes, EllaDee

      • Thanks for your info re your success in England. I will eagerly await your update on our heritage.
        Peter Hine

      • Hi Peter,
        We spent several hours going through original records at the National Archives at Kew, for 2nd Fleet, which was virtually doomed before it left England.
        Also had a look at all Thomas Hodgetts Petitions etc. but haven’t solved all the mysteries yet.

  6. Hi Nola, I’m so pleased I found you and wish you every success with your research. Thank you so much for being prepared to take on such an arduous task. I too descend from many convicts, including Eupham Graham & Matthias Lock, and Thomas & Harriet Hodgetts via Matthias’ son, Thomas Graham who married Mary Maria Hodgetts. For those of my many cousins out there, I also descend from Robert Forrester & Isabella Ramsay, Peter Hough & Catherine Rigby, Susannah Hammond & Robert Forrester (jnr.), etc. (and that’s only on my mum’s side). I won’t bore you about the other half dozen convicts on my dad’s side. I too am thankful every day for what my wonderful convicts (and my other free early pioneers) suffered through, so that I (and my children) can have the wonderful Australian lives that we do. I look forward to whatever you can unearth for us all Nola, With kindest regards, Lisle Reading

    • Hi Lisle, Thanks for getting in touch. It certainly a big task sorting out the lives of our ancestors, and Harriet is an interesting and special case. It is great so many of her descendants are interested in her story. Just need more hours in the day!

  7. Well done Nola on all your research. It is a fascinating conundrum that gets harder to solve by the year. I am also a descendant of Thomas & Harriet via James & Mary’s Daniel Married John & Olivia’s Hester. My Great Grandfather William George is one of the two sons who went to New Zealand and married Corkery sisters. I would be happy to help in any way I could but fear I don’t have any thing to contribute to the amassing job you have already done. I look forward with interest
    to your conclusions. Good Luck Karen

    • Hi Karen, Wonderful to be in touch with another Hodgett’s descendant.I have no information at all on your twig of the tree, but must admit I have been concentrating on just our line.So many children in each generation. I must find time to get back to Harriet’s story soon.When you think about it she was one tough lady and she does deserve our attention.
      Regards, Nola

      • Hi Nola,I would be happy to supply the information on our NZ twig to add to your tree. You have done an amassing job you have done. ( how is it best to send this to you ? Post as with supporting documents it may add up ) . I must admit I am at present using Ancestry to record our family history for future generations (I have 5 Trees going between my husband I & it is time absorbing). I am very distressed to see the number of people who have Ann Duce on their Hodgetts Tree. Firstly Logic – Ann Duce had children in England after the 2nd fleet sailed. To have children in England would require the presence of both mother & child. Secondly it goes against everything I had been told by my Grand Mother . Thirdly I cannot & will not accept that any woman who given a choice at short notice to join the fleet could or would leave her children behind. Any woman who loved her husband enough to take a chance would not leave his children behind. Only love and total belief in Thomas could have persuaded Harriet to join the 2nd fleet,unsure of what if any future held for them. I believe that the children may have died on the voyage. Documentation was bad if at all in some cases as you will have already established. I look forward to hearing from you Karen

  8. Hi Nola, thanks so much for putting this information together and having the generosity to share it with others. I was born and raised on Tasmania’s north-west coast and Leila Rose Hodgetts (daughter of Thomas b.1864 and Frances Agnes Lee) was my great grandmother. My grandmother was Dulcie Francis Hoare who I spent a lot of memorable times with in Ridgley growing up. As the paternal line goes back to Thomas b.1761, John b.1791, James b.1817 (not sure these dates are accurate) and then to Thomas b.1864 it would be interesting to find out how Harriet Luce? came to Tasmania. Hope to hear more soon of what you have discovered.

    • Hi Jodie,
      I’m always delighted to make contact with Hodgetts descendants, and there are literally tens of thousands now. Sorry I have been so long in replying to your lovely comment. When you made your comment, both my husband (Hodgetts descendant) and myself were in the Intensive Care Unit of the Prince of Wales hospital in Sydney.Our recovery has been slow, so just now getting on top of things again, and hopefully more family history.

      • Hi Nola, I hope everything has settled down for you and your husband since my last message. I notice that there are a few more messages below and possible clues to who our Hodgetts’ were and where they came from before their amazing history and huge amount of descendants to date in Australia 🙂 Some of the family members have had DNA testing done and I am wondering if this could help with solving some of the mystery further for those comfortable with the process? Hope all is well xo

  9. Congrats Nola on all your efforts to find out about the mystery woman who was married to Thomas Hodgetts. I too am decended through Hannah Hodgetts and Robert Brumby and have started a diploma of family history at Utas. Had just started looking at Thomas and was trying to document his wife (Harriet, Henrietta or Ann??) and could not find much online. I hope your trip to England was successful and this mystery may be solved. I would love to hear more. Kind regards, Helen

    • Hi Helen, Thank you for your lovely comment. Great you are taking the family history research to the next level at Tassie Uni. Harriet’s story is certainly a great challenge as there are few documents in Australia that even mention her, let alone give us clues to who she was. I live in hope I can find some documents that give us some ‘proofs’. One thing I can prove she was not Ann Luce/Duce, Thomas’ wife, whom many claim changed her name and came to Australia to make a fresh start.
      Our trip to the National Archives in Kew was successful in getting many of the documents I was looking for, but raised more questions too. Maybe I should write her story as a novel, putting together all the circumstantial evidence etc.I probably need to make that decision soon and get busy.

      • Thanks for your reply Nola. I’m glad that our girl is not Ann Duce/Luce. Too confusing. Write that novel girl, I’ll buy it! Keep up the good work.

      • Hi Nola, I would love to read that book, as well as learn what you discovered when you visited the Old Dart. Any information would be helpfull in learning more of our collective past.

  10. Hi Nola,
    I am not descended from Thomas or Harriet but rather are a researcher doing a Masters Degree on the women of the convict vessel Neptune. This was the vessel the “so called” Harriet Hodgetts came in as a free woman. I must confess that in my research the whole concept of the Ann / Harriet name change thing sat badly with me and as such I gave it no credit. In a way her English background is not vital to my thesis, as it is concerned with these women’s transition from convict, or in Harriet’s case, convict wife, to settler so it is her time in NSW, Norfolk and Tasmania that is of interest to me. Having said that I am looking at the issues which were vital to these women so your research is of interest to me in that it raises the mystery of a hidden identity or at least a de facto relationship and “new start”. I understand that you are unable to tell anything to me before the other family members. Is your work likely to be public in the next 12 to 16 months in time to be considered in my research?
    With thanks and anticipation.
    You have to love a good mystery!
    Narissa Phelps

  11. Nola,
    My name is David Arthur Hodgetts,I was born in Coventry in 1940. I have just read your history of the Hodgetts on this site and I have a copy of Richard John Hodgetts book “The Brave Old Pioneers”.
    Through the years our family have traced back our Hodgetts side of the family and its roots are in Staffordshire.
    I have a cousin in NZ who has been the main instigator of our research and there is a slight/unproven as yet chance that the Thomas Hodgetts that went to Tasmania is connected to our family.
    We have been unable to verify this as the records regarding his residential particulars/which Parish etc are incomplete and don,t quite match up.We have records back to the 1780,s

    I note you have not been well and I am sorry for you and dont want to be a nuisance but maybe
    if you think and wan to I can put you in contact with my cousin for a preliminary discussion.

    Hope this finds you well and happy
    Kind Regards

    • Hi David, Thank you so much for your comment and the contact.Sorry I have been so long returning to you. You don’t need to know the details of our health issues, but it has taken over two years to get things sorted, so Vern and I have some quality of life again. The specialist are talking medical miracles, for which we are very grateful.I hope returning to blogging will give me the opportunity to move our Hodgetts research along, and make contact with other family members. I would be delighted if you can put me in touch with your cousin in New Zealand. I will contact you privately with my contact details.

    • Hi David, I am married to a descendant of Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts, They arrived on Norfolk Island and then some years later settled in the Longford and Cressy areas of Northern Tasmania. My mother inlaw was Jean Hodgetts daughter of Horace Hodgetts.My information comes from the work of Richard Hodgetts “The Brave Old Pioneers”. Cheers Kerry lee

      • Hi Kerry, Nice to find another Hodgetts connection. I was able to find your branch of the family in Richard’s book, (p37 & 38) for those interested. Regards, Nola

  12. Any new information regarding the family is helping to give our family and children etc a better understanding of how life was lived in earlier times.
    Thank you.

      • Thank you Jodie, Peter and others for your offer concerning your DNA test. The biggest problem we will have with all the DNA tests is that we will need to know, what kind of test you had? (There are several kinds. For example-was it an XDNA or maybe a mdDNA? )
        We also need to know who did the testing, (as each business has their own way of interpreting and averaging the data to show the result).
        When you had the test, as they are always updating their interpreting programs. Lastly, what was the reason you had the test, or, what was the question you were trying to answer.
        No test at present will answer all questions, nor will it tell you who your ancestors were, by name or even a specific place, unless a very rare mutation or disease shows up that can be proven to come from a specific family or place.
        There is no doubt in the future we may be able to confirm some questions about our heritage, when enough people get the many types of DNA tests done, and the results can be collated to show specific trends.
        For example’ you may not know there are more than one “Hodgetts” family group in Tasmania, whom we believe are not connected. If all the Hodgetts down there got DNA tests, we may be able to show who belongs to which group, and ultimately if they may have been connected many generations before they came to Tasmania.

  13. Thanks Nola. Yes, through family history research we have come across other Hodgetts who are not related to our family, some of them in Tasmania. Do you know of anybody collecting DNA information on our family line? I do know of other people who have found connections back as far as we are talking on the Hodgetts line to family back in England when they have hit a wall with documentary evidence. Will be interesting to see what happens in the future for sure 🙂

  14. Hi Nola, my husband Peter is a decedant of Harriet and Thomas Hodgetts, through William Hodgetts, His son Horace was my husbands Grandfather, My mother in law was Jean Sarah Hodgetts (Lee) daughter of Horace and Hannah (Anna) Hodgetts nee Saunders from Cressy. We have a copy paper only of “The Brave Pioneers”, do you know if a hard copy is available?. Thanks and good luck with your research. Kerry Lee

    • Hi Kerry.Thank you for getting in touch. As you come down through John and Olivia and then James and Mary Hodgetts,you are closer in relationship to my husband than most of the Hodgett descendants who are in touch. I believe I have now researched the Hodgett’s story as far as I can at this time, and am busy putting it all together. With Winter coming on I’m hoping to get much more writing time on it.
      As far as I am aware “The Brave Old Pioneers” was only published in softcover. Nola.

      • Hannah was a Winwood, her mother Alice was a Saunder, was writing from Memory, however you prompted me to research the Hodgetts again. I am Kerry Lee (nee Daley), I married Peter son of Richard Lee and Jean Sarah Hodgetts, we have 4 children, if you would like to add to a tree if you are collecting information? Will keep looking for updates regardless. Kerry

  15. Hi Nola,
    I’m also a Nola, cousin of Richard Hodgetts, and I come from the Thomas, John, Richard, Albert, Richard branch. I am also connected by marriage to the Fagan family at Waratah. I have been collecting information for the branches of our family tree since the 1970’s, and interested in our past history since a child. I feel the need to compile not only dates and names, but decided to write a bit about the grandparents, their work, daily life, war service, mining, and add some photos etc. It helps the kids understand where they fit, and hopefully love the history that they are part of. By the time our grandchildren are grown, the 1900’s will be ‘the olden days’ to them !
    Regards, Nola.

    • Hi Nola, Great to hear from you.
      I have at long last got back into the Hodgett research and have begun to put the story down on paper.It has been a difficult project to begin with because the Second Fleet has been done to death by many historians, but not from our point of view.
      At this stage I have broken the project into three parts. Thomas’s story before his arrival on the Second Fleet; Harriet’s story before her arrival on the Second Fleet and their shared story from their arrival on the Second Fleet. Basically, early English Regency and early Australian Colonial History, covering a period from c 1750 to 1850. So much ground to cover. The biggest challenge is finding big chunks of writing time as my days are so busy.I’m also very nervous as it is such an important project.
      Regards, Nola

      • Thanks for the update on your progress with the history. Will this include the results of your visit to U.K. ?

      • I look fwd to learning more of Thomas & Harriets history. I visited her gravesite years ago, and also to Longford for the reunion, and Deloraine to take my aged parents back. I’d offer to do typing if it would help, but don’t know where you are. I’m in Melbourne.

  16. Thank you all for your interest, support.and even offers of typing. You really are a generous lot and it is nice to know you belong to our family. I will try to live up to your confidence in me to get the job done. Hopefully with a few blogs along the way to keep you up to date to where I’m at.

    • Look forward to it Nola. I’m still working in my thesis which looks at the girls of the Neptune in light of their transition from convictbto settler and their role in the process of settler colonisation. Very interesting and I’d be fascinated to hear more about Harriet, Cheers.

  17. I have just started researching a possible re-marriage for Ann so am very interested in what you have found. Looking forward to the book and thanks for all your hard work.

  18. Hi Nola, Nice to see you are looking to publish more details of our Hodgetts Family. If I can help please advise. I The Luce problem has caused great confusion and misinformation to many.

  19. Hi I am married to Vera jean hogdgetts from Birmingham she can trace her family back to Joseph monsluvine hogdgetts that 100 years they were also packet blinders

    • Thank you Joseph for making contact. We spell the surname as HODGETTS in our branch of the family. Sorry we do not have a Vera Jean Hogdgetts in research notes on the family. Good luck with your family research.

  20. Hi Nola, cant wait to see your research published, I am hoping the Luce garbage will be finally extinguished. I see where others have inquired about my book The Brave Old Pioneers. I still have copies available at $40 posted in Australia.
    For those who would like a copy leave contact details in a comment below.

    • Hi Richard, we would love to purchase a copy of your book. I am currently looking into my twins family history and they seemed to be related to this family.

      Look forward to hearing from you soon

      Regards Marion

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  22. Hello Nola,
    I am another descendant of Thomas Hodgetts, my great great great grandfather on my mother’s side.

  23. Hi Nola, I am so happy to find you, I can be added to the 1,000s of descendants of Thomas Hodgetts my 5th great grandfather,and Harriet. My line continues down through their daughter Mary Maria Hodgetts married Thomas Graham – their daughter Jane Graham married Thomas Jarrett etc. You have certainly put a lot of time and effort into your research, thank you for all that you have done. I can’t wait to be able to buy a book or notes off you when you are ready. I live in NSW.
    Warm regard

  24. What about Thomas Hodgetts b circa 1761 Wednesbury, Staffordshire, UK., to parents Richard Hodgetts (b1722) and Elizabeth, married 1744 Wednesbury. Thomas’s siblings Sarah b pre 1750, Richard b pre 1757 and James Hodgetts b pre 1761 Wednesbury

    • Good Morning Gavin,
      Thank you for the contact. You do not mention in your query whether you are just starting your family history journey and how you are connected to the Hodgetts.
      Since I wrote this blog in 2012, our Hodgetts research has progressed far, as there are many Hodgetts descendants working on Thomas Hodgett’s family line in Australia. If you have not done so I suggest you read ‘The Brave Old Pioneers 1788-1988’ by Richard Hodgetts, which will get you started. You will need to follow up by collecting the relevant documents to document your direct family line.
      This may lead you back to Richard and Elizabeth Hodgetts family in Wednesbury. There are numerous documents concerning this family and descendants following various lines.
      Good luck with it all.
      Regards, Nola

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