The “Dash” of Harriet Hodgetts, Second Fleeter

Harriet Hodgetts, born 1765 in Staffordshire, arrived in Sydney in 1790 on board the Second Fleet. She died in Tasmania in 1850. She is my husband’s ancestor and I have spent many years researching her life. My challenge now is to get this story down on paper. When I was collecting all my notes on ‘her husband’, Thomas, I also brought together all her records in one place. I plan to write her story as I write Thomas’s.

Yes, it is the ‘dash’ again- the one in “Harriet Hodgetts, 1765 – 1850”. This time it covers 85 years, both in England and Australia. Some 25 years in England and 60 years in Australia.

Her research also began with her death in Tasmania in 1850 and proceeded backwards through the records in Tasmania, Norfolk Island and New South Wales to Staffordshire in England.

The fact that she is a woman has made the research all the more difficult and much of the evidence is circumstantial, as she is not mentioned by name in the many records we research for information on our ancestors.

After her arrival as a free woman on the Second Fleet we presume she is with Thomas Hodgetts as she is listed on some government records as ‘wife of Thomas Hodgetts’. She is listed on the children’s baptism entries as their mother in both New South Wales and Norfolk Island, so we believe she remained with Thomas. As she died in Tasmania in 1850 we again believe she was with Thomas not only the six years before his death in 1823, but also remained in Tasmania for the 27 years after his death.

Just how do we write her story if there is little mention of her in the records? That is the big challenge.

“Harriet Hodgetts” also had a secret, which she took to the grave with her. She wasn’t who she claimed to be.

I believe the fact that her name was incorrect on her death entry suggests she told her family little of her origins and her life before she emigrated as a free woman on the Second Fleet in 1790.

Death Entry of “Henrietta Hodgetts” in Longford Tasmania. Believed to be that of the woman also known also as “Harriet Hodgetts”. [Ref: “Australia, Tasmania, Civil Registration, 1803-1933”, database with images, FamilySearch ( : retrieved 15 May 2017 from Family Search ,Utah,USA] From <>



8 thoughts on “The “Dash” of Harriet Hodgetts, Second Fleeter

    • Thank you Dale for your comment. I truly value your interest in the project. As you know a genealogists and writer’s life can be rather lonely at times.Especially when you are not sure if you are on the right track or not.
      Harriet has always claimed my attention too. She certainly was a remarkable woman, at a time when women were not valued for their contribution to their family and community. Although a free woman she would have been treated as a ‘convict woman’ especially in the early days of the colony because of her social class and status. In other words she would not have been taking tea with Mrs Macarthur or the Rev Marsden’s wife. She caused no problems that would have brought her to the notice of authorities, but was able to rise above it all and steer her family towards opportunity and prosperity over many years.I hope I can do her story the justice it deserves and show how much her descendants really owe her.

  1. I have just discovered your site. A lot of information I should have read before. I am one of the ill informed who believed the Brave Pioneers and as I am just beginning this family tree “stuff”. I have he Henrietta Duce person in my tree so I guess I had better delete it. I am the Daughter of Alice Hodgetts, the daughter of Henry Adolphus Hodgetts. Henry is the son of James Henry Hodgetts and Sarah Sydes and James Henry is the son of James Hodgetts and Mary Cox who of course have Thomas and Harriet as his parents. Have you solved the mystery yet. Do you do this research for free. I would be happy to pay for information if required. I was never interested in family history but as I have aged I have grown into it. Unfortunately there never seems to be an end to it all.
    Regards Cheryl Cooper

    • Hi Cheryl,
      It is great to make contact with another Hodgett family member. So many of us have grown into this obsession as we have grown older and are getting so much pleasure from it all. We do have some challenging brick walls in the research but are slowly making progress. True, there is no end to it all but I am planning to write more Hodgett blogs over the coming weeks.
      Regards, Nola

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