Unrelated Hodges gunmakers and unresolved biographical questions.

1. A W Hodges – assistant at Rodda and Co. gunmakers (Indian branch)

Full name: Arthur Wiltshire Hodges , fifth child of seven. Born: 18 July 1872, Calcutta, Bengal, W.India. Died: as yet unknown. Parents: John Joseph Hodges b. 3-2-1838 Calcutta, and Emma Wilson who married in 1864. Grandparents: John Hodges b.1800 Indigo and Tea planter and Flora Selina Adelaide Wiltshire who married on 4th March 1837 Calcutta Cathedral. Wife: Louise Winifred (unknown maiden name). Children (incomplete list): Winifred Emma, b.17-8-1900 Calcutta. (father’s occupation ‘asst., Rodda & Co.’), Joy Nina, b. circa 1916, married Stewart Malcolm Knowles 17-9-1938 

Conclusion: An 'Empire' family for at least 2 generations with no evidence of links to English relations but believed to have retired in the Midlands area of England in the 1920s. 

2. Hodges Perrin & Co.(rifle manufacturers / makers), Belvedere Road, Surrey, 1861.

Were actually based off Belvedere Rd in Bangor Wharf, Lambeth, Surrey, just south of where Hungerford Bridge is now. Until recently the only reference to this company was an entry in one London trade directory.  However we get more clues to their identity from another reference to the company in the London Gazette - for many years the official record for company notices and patents.

“Notice is hereby given, that the Partnership subsisting between us under the firm of Hodges, Perrin, and Co., as Rifle and Gun Manufacturers, at Belvidere-road, Lambeth, was this day dissolved by mutual consent. – Dated this 16th day of February, 1861. A. L. Hodges, Edward Perrin.”

Therefore the company probably only traded during 1860 (when the 1861 directory was compiled), and the first couple of months of 1861. Neither A. L. Hodges nor Edward Perrin have yet been confidently identified in the 1861 census and their names do not match anyone in the confirmed Hodges family trees.

It is likely that A.L. Hodges was Alfred Leopold Hodges (1834-1869), youngest son of William Robert Hodges of Leicester Square, property and landowner. He appears to have been a wealthy gentleman of independent means who was unfaithful to his first wife and deserted her to marry a woman from Wolverhampton. No contemporary references have been found to his owning a gun business. He may have merely financed it and let Perrin manage it. 

The only Perrin gunmaker of that name or similar in the 1861 census (other than the celebrated Worcester Perrins) was an Edward Perrins who was from the Midlands and moved to Birmingham later. A George Thomas Perrin (1859-1899) did marry EC Hodges’ daughter Florence Emma Eugenie Hodges but he was illegitimate and took his name from his mother Mary Veness Perrin. No father was ever listed for him. Conclusion: No firm evidence of a connection despite the name and business similarity.

3. Richard Edward Hodges (1797-1873) was born in Bromfield, Shropshire and lived for nearly 20 years in Haiti, where he was a merchant and British Vice-Consul at the southern port of Jacmel. He was inspired by watching locals using springy branches and vines to move heavy mahogany trunks. He returned to Britain and exploited the recently invented material of vulcanised rubber for similar tasks and to adapt this technology to as many different domestic and industrial applications as he could. One of Hodges’ many ideas was in the field of marine engineering and he hit on the idea of a strong vulcanised rubber multi-strand cage which could absorb the shocks and stresses of a rolling sea during deep-sea sounding, cable laying or for raising or towing ships.

He patented a number of inventions within a few years and fairly soon realised that the elastic properties of the new material could also be applied to weapons, particularly for use at sea. Patent no: 12623, was for the application of India rubber to projectiles in 1849. In the same year he patented a catapult or ‘elastic’ gun which used strong rubber bands to propel a projectile of some sort. The launcher was large enough to hold a .43-calibre lead ball. Present day collectors believe the gun was meant for foraging, so sailors could dispatch a small deer or pig silently from a weapon that was impervious to rain and salt spray.

Hodges’ office and warehouse, was situated by 1852 at 44, later 89, Southampton Row, Holborn, until 1872. His rubber was obtained from factories elsewhere for assembly into his advertised products. In 1851 he exhibited his rubber powered guns and crossbows at the Great Exhibition. Also exhibited were whaling guns made to his design by William Murray. Other fishing equipment to his design was marketed by a French firm. He also exhibited at the 1862 London Exhibition, and in associated pamphlets illustrated and gave technical details for immense rubber 'accumulators' suitable for moving heavy bodies – such as a stranded or sunken ships and for erecting machinery and propelling harpoons etc. Not much is known about his later career, except that his accumulator was used in two sounding voyages in 1868 and 1869 of the Hydra and Porcupine ships respectively. He lived and worked in Southampton Row until he died in 1873.

Conclusion: an inventor of rubber goods not a conventional gunmaker, with no links to Bermondsey or Islington. Highly unlikely to be related.

4. Mystery! EC Hodges' eldest son Arthur Edwin Charles died on 5th February 1890 at age of 26, according to the family bible, and was listed as a deceased child by EC Hodges in his census return for 1911. No official record of his death has been found by the General Register Office either in the UK or the wider Empire. Did he emigrate, or join the forces? If so where and how did he die?

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