Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Studholme Hodgson: A Lifelong Military Man

Studholme Hodgson was born around 1707 or 1708 to John Hodgson, a merchant from Carlisle. Although his father’s family had roots in Wormanby, Burgh near Sands, Hodgson attended grammar school in Carlisle and presumable spent most of his childhood there. Until 1727, Hodgson was forced to remain within his father’s guild as a merchant until he managed to release himself through patrimony. Hodgson was then free to join the army, which he did on 22 January 1728 as an ensign in the first foot guards. Little else is known of his military career until thirteen years later when he was promoted to lieutenant and captain of the same regiment on 25 April 1740. Recognized for his skill, he was appointed an aid-de-camp for the Duke of Cumberland at the battle of Fontenoy in 1743 during the War of Austrian Succession and the battle of Culloden, famous as the last of the Jacobite uprisings, in 1745. He also served as an aide-de-camp for the earl of Albermarle at the battle of Dettingten. Hodgson continued to move through the military ranks and became captain and lieutenant-colonel on 22 February 1747. After two decades of military service, he was nicknamed “Old Boy” by his fellow military men. Hodgson incurred resentment from the Dutch at Laffelt in 1747 for they accused him of rudeness.
                  Hodgson chose to be more than a military man when he married Catherine Howard on 22 July 1756 after being promoted to colonel to the 50th foot guards. The couple would go on to have three sons and two daughters but only their son John would survive. In the 1757 Rochefort expedition during the Seven Years’ War, which was a bitter failure for British forces, Hodgson was in command of a brigade. He was also part of those who voted against the attempt to land and attack Fort Fouras, which speculatively caused him to shortly lose favor with the Duke. On 25 June 1759, he was promoted to rank of major-general and was subsequently transferred to the 5th foot. Although Hodgson had made an unpopular move at Rochefort, he eventually regained favor with the Duke and was put in charged of leading an expedition against Bell Isle. Commodore Keppel had been having difficulty capturing Belle Isle and Hodgson quickly realized the difficulty stemmed not as much from poor leadership but poorly trained and undermanned troops. Their first attempt on Belle Isle failed but their second try allowed Hodgson to “[overrun] the island as the French troops retired, [seize] all the defenseless ports, and… [sit] down to besiege Palais” (Corbett, 167). The citadel was forced to surrender on 7 June 1761. Hodgson’s actions at Belle Isle earned him praise from the king who commended “’the great service he had done for his king and country’” (Cannon, 149). Even William Pitt, who was then secretary of state, applauded Hodgson “on the completion of so important and critical an operation which must ever be remembered to his honour” (Ibid.). 
Map of Belle Isle

                  Since he could no longer serve the Duke as master of the horse after the Duke’s death in 1765, Hodgson was selected as Governor of Fort George and Fort Augustus. His military career was not over, however, and in 1768 he became colonel of the 4th King’s Own foot and was promoted to general ten years later. In 1782, he became colonel of the 4th Irish horse and in 1789, he was moved to the 11th dragoons. Hodgson’s final bump in military rank occurred on 30 July 1796 when he was promoted to field marshal. Hodgson passed away on 20 October 1798 in his house on Old Burlington Street in London and was buried less than a week later at the parish of St. James in Piccadilly.

Boucé, Paul-Gabriel. “Smollett and the Expedition against Rochefort.” Modern Philology 65, no. 1 (1967): 33-38,
Cannon, Richard, ed. Historial Record of the fourth, or the king’s own, regiment of foot. London: Longman, Orme, and Co., 1839.
Chichester, H. M. “Hodgson, Studholme (1707/8–1798).” Rev. Alastair W. Massie. In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed., edited by Lawrence Goldman, October 2009. (accessed June 17, 2015).
Corbett, Julian Stafford. England in the Seven Years’ War: a Study in Combined Strategy. London: Longmans, Green, 1907.        

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