Thomas Hodgetts, born 1763, Staffordshire, England, arrived in Sydney in 1790 aboard the Second Fleet. He died in Tasmania in 1823.
He is my husband’s ancestor and I have spent many years researching his life.
My challenge is now to get his story down on paper. I have spent the last few days collecting my notes, folders and computer files together to begin this task. Like all projects the hardest part is getting started.
While the research began at his death and progressed backwards through the surviving Tasmanian, Norfolk Island and New South Wales records to Staffordshire in England, the writing of the story is better explained from his birth through his youthful years, marriage, criminal records, transportation and life in New South Wales, Norfolk Island and Tasmania. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘dash’ in a person’s life.
You know when you see “Thomas Hodgetts, 1763 – 1823”, which refers to born 1763 and died 1823. The ‘dash’ years are their life story in between those dates. In Thomas’s case it spans 60 years.
I have now broken these 60 years into his life in England and his life in Australia. He was 27 years of age when he was transported in 1790, so that gives me 27 years in England and 33 years in Australia. In England it is the Regency period and in Australia early Colonial times and all that implies in law and custom.
We can piece the story through many records, but putting it all down in the historical and social context of the times without making some ‘gaff’ is the real challenge.
Above: One of the Petitions for Thomas Hodgetts [ Ref: Thomas Hodgetts Petition;1789,Home Office,HO13,Correspondence and Warrents,7/23,England and Wales; Crime, Prisons & Punishment,1770-1935,Institutions & Organizations, Prison Registers retrieved from Findmypast,15 May 2017 at http://search.findmypast.com.au/record?id=tna%2fccc%2f2a%2fho13%2f00006070 ]This is also one of the documents I photographed when at the National Archives, London in 2014.
Although I find it all most interesting, it is going to take some real discipline to sit at it day after day as ‘work’, especially with the busy life we lead.
The reason I am doing this project is for our children and grandchildren, but I know there are many thousands of descendants of Thomas Hodgetts in Australia, who are always keen to find out more on this ancestral line. Hopefully their interest will keep me on track with the project.