Edwin Charles HODGES (1831-1925), son of Edward HODGES (1805-1878), a leather dresser, and Elizabeth Rachel REYNOLDS (1806-1883), born Sevenoaks, Kent.

Born 9 Oct 1831, Bermondsey, Surrey.  Christened 28 Aug 1833, St Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey.  Married Emma LANE 22 Dec 1855 at the Parish Church Islington.  Died 10 Feb 1925, Twyford Abbey nursing home, W Twyford nr Greenford, Middlesex.


Usually referred to as 'EC' rather than Edwin, however in the trade was commonly known as 'Hodges of Islington'. He is usually described as an action-filer outworker to the London gun trade who could 'lock, stock and barrel a gun', but is now known to have also made and marketed guns in his own name for at least 15 years.

1841 census, living at Georges Terrace, Crimscott (Grimscott) St, Bermondsey.

1851 census -apprenticed to his uncle Ebenezer Hodges (1824-1855) a gun-barrel maker living at 31 Gt Wild St, St Giles in the Fields, Middlesex. Other gunmakers at the same address were Ephraim Colesby, and Frederick John Horatio Phillips, father of Horatio Phillips of 'Vena Contracta' and aerofoil development fame.

1851 - It was said (by grandson Arthur Edwin [1900-1983], who had known him for 25 years), that after visiting the Great Exhibition 19 year old EC persuaded well known gunmaker Joseph Lang that the drop-down breechloader was the gun of the future. EC made an improved version of Lefaucheux's breech-loading 'drop-down' pinfire exhibited there and is then said to have sold it to the Langs.

1852 - EC Hodges finished apprenticeship with Ebenezer, the latter emigrating to Australia at the end of August 1852.

1852 EC Hodges goes into business as a gunmaker in Islington. This date is confirmed by an advertisement in The Field (1876) stating he had been manufacturing guns for 24 years. Joseph Lang also lived in Islington although his business was now at 22 Cockspur Street.

1853 – Joseph Lang produced the first Lang breech-loader he was satisfied with in this year, after a year of experimentation, asserting that the firm was the first British gunmaking firm to introduce the breechloader to Britain. Lancaster's 'basefire' breechloader (despite his claims to an earlier date) appears to have been introduced two or three years later, again 'inspired' by French originals. 

Early to late 1850s – EC Hodges appears to have been actioning pinfire breechloaders for various makers, including Parker Field, Beckwith and possibly Lang. More evidence from Lang, Reilly, Lancaster, Parker Field & Sons, and Blanch pinfire guns from the 1850s is required.

1855 December - EC marries Emma Lane of North Walsham. Her parents were Groom Lane, a Norfolk tanner (b.1780 – d.1855) and Harriet Caroline Ladell nee Worm (b.1792 – d. 1869). Pre-marriage address was 23 St James St (now Chantry St), Islington, lodging with George Woods, a barrister's clerk. Emma was living with sister Frances and her North Walsham (NFK) born gunmaker husband Thomas Robert Hasdell (1825-1887) at no.14 in the same street. Hasdell later moved his business to Clerkenwell and was still active in The Field trials of 1866. Thomas and Frances emigrated to Chicago around 1870 and Thomas seems to have had a successful gunmaking career until his death in 1887. 

1858 EC actioned the first breech loading shotgun for Stephen Grant at Boss and Co. Moved to newly built 8 Florence St, Islington, North London, and created a workshop there in an outbuilding in the garden.

1860 First public listing as a gunmaker (Islington Directory for 1860, published Dec 1859), living at 8 Florence St.

In 1861 census, was listed as employing 2 men and 3 boys.

1862 At the International Exhibition in South Kensington, EC Hodges receives honourable mention certificate for 'excellence of workmanship in breechloading guns'. Gunmaker John Rigby commented that ' the workmanship of [EC Hodges] appears to us especially worthy of praise'.

04/12/1865 First patent: No. 3113 - Extractor and angled striker for drop-down actions. An Alex Henry 12 bore hammergun (no.1637) found which uses this.

15/11/1866 Second patent. No. 2996 Extractors. Used widely and gradually modified until at least 1888. Crown and triangle logo containing ECH's initials adopted as a patent stamp around this time.

1867 EC Hodges begins to work on Stephen Grant guns when the latter sets up on his own after leaving Boss in this year.

1868-70 records exist of Hodges action on a J Blanch and Son 12 bore underlever.

1869 allows patent No. 2996 to lapse by reason of non-payment of stamp duty.

1870 actions a pair of 16-bore Stephen Grant rotary under-lever guns (no.s 3040 and 3041) given by Queen Victoria to her son the Prince of Wales, Albert Edward ('Bertie') later Edward VII. He received one on his birthday on November 9th and the second one for Christmas. They sold for £50,000 at auction in December 2009. The guns are marked 'Hodges patent', (extractors patent no. 2996 of 1866).

31/01/1871 Third patent – a  'Treble Grip' (triple bite) patent no. 251. Originally a short underlever forward of the trigger guard, within a couple of years the familiar sidelever appears and is used on hundreds of Grant guns by licence. Design evolves to the use of transverse pins through both lumps. The credit 'Grant Hodges patent' was probably part of the licensing arrangement, although the patent was solely in EC Hodges' name. Also worked on Purdey guns around this time.

In 1871 was employing 9 men and 3 boys. Records exist of work during the 1870s for A Lancaster, William Cartwright, Samuel & C Smith, Army and Navy, and a rifle for Alex Henry (c.1876, a .450 double, sidelever

1875 begins to produce guns in his own name from Florence Street. Latest date of those found so far dates from about 1898.
Around this time employed a fully trained John Wilkes from a Birmingham firm of gunmakers until about 1879.

1876 takes premises at 95 Mount St Mayfair, London, until 1881. Advertises a hammerless gun triple grip (probably using Gibbs & Pitt's popular hammerless patent), and a newly patented Pryse/Webley trade pistol retailed with his own name and address on the top flat.  

1878 Fourth patent no. 1145 Hammerless gun action - underlever cocking - the safety on the lever cocked gun is a slide on the trigger guard strap.  

1881 Moves premises to 69 Ebury Street until 1884

Early 1880s - EC Hodges guns achieve notable success in live pigeon shooting competitions in London. 

20/03/1883 - Fifth patent, no. 1463 for Safety with Thomas William Webley of Weaman St, B'ham & George Bouckley of Aston, cocking & safety device for drop down guns.

1884 Moves premises to 34 South Audley St, diagonally opposite Purdey, until 1885.

1886 Gives up Mayfair premises and operates from home workshop address at Florence St until about April 1915.

1886 approx. Ernest Charles Lawrence apprenticed to EC, later to become factory manager of James Purdey & Sons Ltd.

1890 (5th Feb) Eldest son Arthur Edwin Charles Hodges dies at the age of 26, location and cause unknown. Further information required as no death certificate yet located.

1892 approx. James Lang gun actioned.

1896 EC Hodges is owed money by Lang and Hussey for work done. Hundreds of guns actioned and finished for Henry Atkin and Army and Navy in particular as well as some for
J Woodward.

1899 Sixth and last patent no. 19167 for a single trigger on double guns. Listed as doing barrel-making for Purdey.

1900 Grandson Arthur Edwin Hodges born, named after prematurely deceased son Arthur Edwin Charles, later Atkin MD.

1901 Census - still living and working at 8 Florence street, Islington, aged 69. Recorded as actioning a gun for the Earl of Essex on 28th November.

1905 December, celebrates Golden Wedding Anniversary - see photo on homepage.

1910 (Harper's Weekly obituary), eldest living son Lionel 'Leo' Frederic Thomas Hodges joins Atkin. There is a widely held misconception that EC Hodges ran Atkin after Henry Atkin died in 1907. In fact Appleton appears to have taken over until such time as Lionel became joint MD.

1911 Census EC Hodges declares himself an active gunmaker and employer working from home.

1911 EC Hodges' firm recorded as working on guns for Henry Atkin Ltd.

1913 Wife Emma dies.

1915 EC Hodges ceases to be listed as a gunmaker in 1915 [Islington Directory]. Stephen Grant sales book references to EC Hodges stop in April 1915.

1915- 1919 still living at 8 Florence St [Isl. Dir.] Late 1919, EC retires to 7, Percy Circus, King's Cross retaining his housekeeper Mrs Powell.

1920 - article in Country Life (7th August) refers to EC as 'just retired'. It goes on to mention his son Lionel's association with the firm of Atkin Ltd There is no evidence of EC Hodges ever being anything more than an outworker to Atkin.

10 Feb 1925 1925 dies of 'longstanding senile decay' at 'Twyford Abbey', a popular name for Park Royal Hospital (later North Middlesex Hospital).

The probate index gives his last permanent address given as 7, Percy Circus, Kings Cross, London however his daughter Ella's address 125 Leaside Crescent, Golders Green/Hendon, given as last place of residence on death certificate which may indicate she nursed him before he went to Twyford. Died intestate, leaving  £989.0.8d.

Buried next to his wife Emma in East Finchley cemetery, North London. Grave survives.

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