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.