Ebenezer HODGES (1824-1855).

Born 29 Sep 1824, Bermondsey, Surrey.  Parents: John Hodges (1778- circa 1850) and Elizabeth Rachel HADLEY (c.1778-1839).  Christened 14 Nov 1824, St Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey.

Died 23 Oct 1855, Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia.  Cause: Consumption.

Buried 24 Oct 1855, Campbells Creek Cemetery, Victoria, Australia.


1851 - Listed as a Gun-barrel maker with Edwin Charles Hodges as his apprentice, living at 31, Gt Wild Street, St Giles in the Fields, Middx. Two other gunmaking families shared the address headed by Ephraim Colesby (b. 28 Jan 1811 Birmingham) and Frederick John Horatio (b.1805 Horsham) described as a gunsmith and barrel maker.  There are no records yet discovered of Ebenezer's apprenticeship, perhaps Colesby, Phillips or his later business partner Joseph Davis from a family of gunlock makers at the Tower of London had some training role earlier in Ebenezer's life.

Stanley Cook's gunmaking listings has Ebenezer Hodges at 9 Endell St, Middlesex circa 1851/2.

In the summer of 1852, EC Hodges finished his apprenticeship and began his gunmaking career. With EC’s apprenticeship discharged, Ebenezer with two of his sisters, Eliza and Sylvia, emigrated to Australia in August at the peak of the gold rush. Ford Madox Brown's famous painting  'The Last of England 1855' (pictured top centre (c) Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery) captured something of the desperation and poignancy of the thousands of poor who left the Britain for a better life.

They departed England on 31 Aug 1852 arriving Port Philip Bay, Melbourne 11 Dec 1852 aboard the "Gloriana" (pictured top right) and Ebenezer set up a gunmaking and skittle turning business in Castlemaine, Victoria, with Eliza’s husband, London gunlock maker Joseph Davis (1807-1884), son of Samuel Sampson Davis a gunmaker at the Tower of London, who had patents employing early percussion caps (source Howard L. Blackmore).

In fact Joseph left London for Australia a fortnight ahead of his wife in some haste on the Marlborough, ‘as a consequence of a minor scandal involving the well intentioned falsifying of Ordnance accounts by Francis George Lovell, the government’s assistant inspector of Small Arms’. The East India Company’s “Minutes of Evidence on the Report on Small Arms”, gives further details: “Joseph Davis, had “lately left for Australia under painful circumstances, having accepted bills to a large amount for a son of the late inspector, and not being able to meet them, he was obliged to abscond, leaving his debts unpaid.”

23 Feb 1855 [Joseph] Davis and [Ebenezer] Hodges are listed as gunmakers in Barker St, Castlemaine, Australia.
Ebenezer died of consumption in October 1855 less than three years after his arrival. Joseph Davis was the informant at Ebenezer's death, and Ebenezer appears to have died without marrying or leaving children. His sister Eliza also died shortly afterwards as did Sylvia’s new husband. However after an appropriate interval Sylvia then married Joseph.  

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