HODSON, James Alexander (1788-1832), of Grove-within-Upholland, nr. Wigan, Lancs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1820 - 21 Feb. 1831

Family and Education

b. 1 Sept. 1788, 1st s. of James Hodson of Ince and Jane, da. of Jarvis Johnson.1 educ. Reading; Peterhouse, Camb. 1804. m. c. 1809, Sarah, at least 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. (1 d.v.p.).2 d. 24 Nov.1832.

Offices Held

Lt. Wigan vol. light horse 1819.


Hodson belonged to a prominent Wigan family, who had established a strong position in the corporation by the last decade of the eighteenth century. His father James, who was probably the man of that name who served as mayor three times between 1784 and 1790 and was a patron of St. George’s chapel of ease, 1781-4, was dead by 1806. Like his brother John Hodson†, the beneficiary at the general election of 1802 of a coup against the established aristocratic interests, he was involved in cotton manufacture.3 His sons James Alexander and John Johnston (?1791-1869) appear not to have been, and were conventionally educated at Cambridge and Oxford respectively.4 John took holy orders and died as rector of Yelvertoft, Northamptonshire. When their uncle John Hodson, who had no children, retired from the representation of Wigan at the dissolution in 1820, James came forward in his room. He was returned with Lord Lindsay, the son of the 6th earl of Balcarres, the Hodsons’ new electoral ally, after a contest forced by an abortive bid to revive the Bradford interest.5

As was noted in a radical publication of 1823, Hodson supported the Liverpool ministry when present, but he was a lax attender, who is not known to have spoken in debate.6 He voted in defence of ministers’ conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821. He divided against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, and Canning’s bill to relieve Catholic peers of their disabilities, 30 Apr. 1822. He voted against reducing the barracks grant, 28 May 1821, and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. 1822. He lost an infant daughter on 19 Dec. 1822. His wife gave birth to another on the 30th, but died, ‘in her 34th year’, on 8 Jan. 1823.7 No trace of parliamentary activity by Hodson has been found for the ensuing session. He divided for repeal of the usury laws, 8 Apr. 1824, 8 Feb. 1825. He presented a petition from the clergy and magistrates of Wigan against the beer bill, 11 May 1824.8 He voted against the motion condemning the prosecution of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 11 June 1824. He was granted a fortnight’s leave on account of ill health, 21 Feb. 1825. He divided against Catholic relief, 21 Apr., 10 May. He presented a Wigan petition against alteration of the corn laws and for protection of the flour trade, 4 May.9 He voted for the duke of Cumberland’s grant, 30 May, 2, 6, 10 June 1825. A radical survey of that session commented that he had ‘attended occasionally, and voted with ministers’.10 He divided against the opposition motion on the Jamaican slave trials, 2 Mar., and reform of the representation of Edinburgh, 13 Apr. 1826.

Hodson was returned unopposed for Wigan at the general election of 1826.11 It seems likely that poor health increasingly interfered with his attendance. He voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828. On the death of his uncle that year he became entitled to the interest on £8,000 invested for the benefit of himself and his children.12 Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, predicted in February 1829 that he would vote ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation, but he presented a hostile petition from Hindley, 4 Mar., and divided against the proposal, 6 Mar. His Wigan colleague James Lindsay, cousin of the 7th earl of Balcarres (as Lord Lindsay had now become), who supported it, reported from London four days later that Hodson had ‘vacillated half a dozen times since he came here’.13 He presented the Wigan anti-Catholic petition, 17 Mar., and voted in the hostile minorities of 18, 23, 30 Mar. He presented a Wigan petition against the East India Company’s trade monopoly, 13 May 1829. He was granted a month’s leave on account of ill health, 26 Feb. 1830. He presented a constituency petition against the sale of beer bill, 3 May, and voted against its second reading, 4 May, and for an amendment to prohibit sales for on-consumption, 21 June. He voted against Jewish emancipation, 17 May, and the Galway franchise bill, 25 May 1830.

Before the general election of 1830 he expressed an inclination to retire from Parliament, but he was persuaded by Balcarres and Lindsay to stand again. A contest was forced by local dissidents who wished to challenge the existing right of election and put up two businessmen of advanced views. Hodson, who pledged himself under constituency pressure to oppose renewal of the East India Company’s charter, apparently had no prior knowledge of the surprise intervention of his cousin John Hodson Kearsley*, who nominated himself and attacked Lindsay. Hodson and Lindsay were returned.14 Ministers listed him among their ‘friends’, but he never took his seat in the new Parliament. On 3 Nov. 1830, when the petition against his and Lindsay’s return was presented to the Commons, he told Balcarres, who later claimed that Kearsley had already canvassed Wigan, that he still wished to retire, more particularly as ‘I have been confined to my bed almost ever since the last election and am only just able now to get down stairs’.15 On 15 Nov. his formal notification that he would not personally contest the petition was accepted by the House, and Kearsley was given permission to act in his stead, 6 Dec. 1830. As soon as his return was confirmed by the election committee, 21 Feb. 1831, he took the Chiltern Hundreds; Kearsley replaced him at the ensuing by-election.

Hodson, who owned property in Wigan but lived at Upholland, four miles to the west, and had a share in the thriving Kirklees colliery, died in November 1832.16 By his will, dated 25 Dec. 1830, and proved at Chester under £12,000, 13 Dec. 1832, he directed that a total of £22,500 be raised for the equal benefit of his four younger children. His eldest daughter Sarah received £2,500 in addition to the sum settled on her on her marriage to John Woodcock in 1829. His eldest son and residuary legatee James Alexander Hodson (1813-89) was the principal beneficiary.17 His second son John Fowden Hodson (b. ?1815) was educated at Merton College, Oxford and took the name of Hodges in 1844 after succeeding to the Oxfordshire property of his maternal uncle Frederick Richard Hodges of Henley-upon-Thames.18

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Authors: Stephen Bairstow / David R. Fisher


  • 1. Lancs. RO, All Saints, Wigan par. reg.
  • 2. IGI (Lancs.); Gent. Mag. (1810), i. 389; (1823), i. 93.
  • 3. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 239; iv. 212; G.T.O. Bridgeman, Hist. Church and Manor of Wigan (Chetham Soc. n. s. xviii), 781.
  • 4. W.D. Pink and A.B. Beavan, Parl. Rep. Lancs. 239 and W. Bean, Parl. Rep. Six Northern Counties, 463 incorrectly suppose James Alexander Hodson to have been the son of the Member for Wigan.
  • 5. Liverpool Mercury, 18 Feb., 3, 10 Mar. 1820.
  • 6. Black Bk. (1823), 164.
  • 7. Gent. Mag. (1823), i. 81, 93.
  • 8. The Times, 12 May 1824.
  • 9. Ibid. 5 May 1825.
  • 10. Session of Parl. 1825, p. 468.
  • 11. Liverpool Mercury, 16 June 1826.
  • 12. Lancs. RO, John Hodson’s will.
  • 13. NLS, Crawford mss 25/1/435.
  • 14. Ibid. 25/13/353; 40/7/28; Liverpool Mercury, 16, 23, 30 July, 6 Aug.; Manchester Guardian, 31 July, 7 Aug. 1830.
  • 15. Crawford mss 25/13/352, 354.
  • 16. Bridgeman (Chetham Soc. n. s. xvii), 647, 654; D. Anderson and A.A. France, Wigan Coal and Iron, 64-66.
  • 17. Lancs. RO, Hodson’s will; IR26/1294/819; Gent. Mag. (1829), ii. 558.
  • 18. Gent. Mag. (1843), ii. 444.