HODGES, Hugh (1641-93), of Sherborne, Dorset and Lincoln's Inn.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

bap. 11 June 1641, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Hugh Hodges, attorney, of Sherborne by Elizabeth, da. of Lawrence Swetnam of Sherborne. educ. Sherborne; Queen’s, Oxf. 1658; L. Inn 1659, called 1666. m. Mary, da. of John Eastmont, clothier, of Sherborne, 1s. suc. fa. 1673.1

Offices Held

Jt. auditor of excise, Dorset 1662; gov. Sherborne sch. 1669, steward 1670-?1687; recorder, Dorchester 1671-d.; commr. for assessment, Dorset 1673-80, 1689-90; j.p. 1673-June 1688, Nov. 1688-d., commr. for recusants 1675; recorder, Bridport 1677-Aug. 1688, Oct. 1688-d., freeman 1685; bencher, L. Inn 1685; commr. for rebels’ estates, Som. and Dorset 1685.2

Serjeant-at-law 1686-d.


Hodges’s father, an attorney of Somerset origin, took part in the Civil War as clerk to the treasurer of the Cavalier armies in the west. He compounded for property worth £180 p.a. with debts of £950, chiefly due to an ambitious land purchase in 1638. During the Interregnum he acted in association with Thomas Chafe I in buying back the Digby estates from the treason trustees.3

Hodges rapidly outstripped his father in the legal profession. The recusancy of the 2nd Earl of Bristol and the weakness of the 3rd (John Digby, Lord Digby) enabled him to wield part of the vast influence which Sherborne Castle exercised in Somerset and Dorset. As chairman of quarter sessions ‘he was very fierce all along against dissenters’. The only blemish on his record, from the government standpoint, was an episode in which he boxed the ears of an insolent tax-collector; but his loyalty could be vouched for by Digby and Thomas Strangways, who advised the Bridport corporation to choose him as their recorder, an appropriate choice for a town where a tax-collector had been murdered a few years before. In 1680, Hodges was described by John Speke as the Government’s chief intelligencer in the area, predicting the speedy dissolution of the second Exclusion Parliament and denouncing its conduct towards the King and Lord Halifax. He had been a subscriber to Williamson’s newsletters as early as 1665, but it was his local intelligence system that enabled him to apprehend two of Shaftesbury’s couriers at the time of the Rye House Plot.4

Hodges was returned for Bridport to James II’s Parliament. As a moderately active Member, he was appointed to seven committees, of which the most important was for the general naturalization of Huguenot refugees. After the Bloody Assizes, Roger Morrice alleged that he became ‘very much disturbed in his mind. ... It is credibly reported that in his illness he often cried aloud, "Take down those quarters, for I must be hanged in their stead".' His delirium, if it ever occurred, must have been in short duration, for he was raised to the coif in the following year. His answers on the repeal of Test and Penal Laws are not extant, but were presumably negative, for he was removed from county and municipal office.5

Hodges witnessed the return for the county election on 14 Jan. 1689, but otherwise nothing more is known of his career. He died on 16 Aug. 1693 and was buried in Sherborne Abbey, the only member of his family to sit in Parliament.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Dorset RO, Sherborne par. reg.; Vis. Dorset (Harl. Soc. cxvii), 4; Hutchins, Dorset, iv. 250; PCC 79 Pye.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 382; viii. 414; Sherborne Reg. 4; Hutchins, ii. 8, 361; Dorset RO, KG1148, 1496, 1147; Dorset Hearth-Tax ed. Meekings, 117; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 25.
  • 3. SP23/185/866-79; Cal. Comm. Comp. 2170; CSP Dom. 1639-40, p. 151; 1656-7, p. 10; G. E. Aylmer, King’s Servants, 90, 388; Hutchins, iv. 66.
  • 4. R. Morrice, Entering-Bk. 1, p. 536; CSP Dom. 1665-6, p. 54; 1667-8, pp. 222, 224; 1675-6, p. 223; 1677-8, pp. 203, 254, 293; 1680-1, p. 92; July-Sept. 1683, pp. 64, 338.
  • 5. Morrice, 536; PC2/72, pp. 567, 613.
  • 6. Hutchins, iv. 251.