If success can be measured in terms of social enhancement, the Hodgetts family is perhaps the most successful family in Kingswinford history. The early Hodgetts shown in the tree below all came from the Kingswinford / Shut End area and John Hodgetts (1550-1630) and John Hodgetts (1595-1634) are both described as yeomen farmers in their wills – see Kim Simmonds Family Genealogy, 2019, which also gives sources for these genealogies. Where their land was in relation to that of the Corbyns at Corbyn’s Hall and the Bendys at Shut End is not clear, but by the 18th and 19th centuries the Hodgetts held large tracts of land in Kingswinford and elsewhere, had married into one of the new aristocratic industrialist families, served as MPs for various places in the locality and lived in Prestwood House – the largest of the gentry houses in the Kingswinford area.
In the 15th and 16th centuries however the Hodgetts’ horizons were more limited. In the 1490s, Edward Sutton (1460-1531), 2nd Baron Dudley, leased land in the Russell’s Hall area to “Thomas Hodgetts of Swinford”, almost certainly the Thomas Hodgetts (1465-1532) at the top of the Hodgetts tree. Similarly, in 1526, Edward leased the “erbage, justment and pannage, etc. of the New Park at Pensnett Chase”, to Thomas’ son John Hodgetts (1495-). It is also possible Henry and William Hodgetts of Sedgley, who between 1610 and 1650 were custodians of the bones of St Chad after they had been removed from Lichfield Cathedral by Arthur Dudley, Edward’s nephew, in 1538, were also related to the Kingswinford Hodgetts.
The recurring generations of John Hodgetts tended to marry the daughters of local gentry – for example Margaret Paston (-1675), the daughter of the Rector Nicholas Paston; or to Hannah Bague (1652-1712), the daughter of George Bague and granddaughter of Gload de Bague, the glassmaker family from Lorraine, and major industrialists in the Wordsley / Brettell Lane area. John Hodgetts (1650-1716) was Agent of the Dudley Estate in the early years of the 18th century. His daughter, Patience Hodgetts (1685-1772), married Richard Keeling(e) (1677-), who was also the Agent of the Dudley Estate. Richard and Patience’s niece Ann Hodgetts (1709-1766), daughter of Thomas Hodgetts (1678-1740), Rector of Kingswinford and vicar of Press in north Shropshire, married their son John (1713-1783) who was, once again, the Dudley Estate Agent.
It was John Hodgetts (1650-1716) who purchased the Corbyn’s Hall estate on the death of the last male Corbyn in around 1688 and took up residence there until he sold it on early in the next century. His grandson, John Hodgetts (1698-1742) married Mary Bendy, the co-heiress of William Bendy and through her he inherited at least a significant proportion of the Bendys Shut End estate. This John became High Sherriff of Staffordshire in 1737 and was himself the Agent of the Dudley Estate.
Their son, John Hodgetts (1721-1789) took the major step in the families climb up the social ladder by marrying Elizabeth Foley (1707-1759). The Foleys were descended from Richard Foley, a Stourbridge nailer from the 16th century, who had become extremely wealthy as a result of a successful marketing of his products and were heavily involved in iron production around the Midlands. Richard’s grandson, Thomas (1617-1677) built Witley Court in the Malverns and was High Sherriff of Worcestershire in 1656. He was the first of the family with political ambitions and served as an MP for Worcestershire and Bewdley. Elizabeth was Thomas’s great-granddaughter through his son Philip (1648-1716), with this branch of the family being based at Prestwood at the western edge of Kingswinford parish. John Hodgetts (1721-1789) was, like his father, High Sherriff of Staffordshire in 1765, and seems to have taken up residence at Prestwood on his marriage. Shut End House at this time (approx. 1760 to 1780) seems to have been the residence of Commander John Becher, RN, but the actual ownership is not clear.
In 1790, the daughter of John and Elizabeth, Eliza Maria Foley Hodgetts (1759-), married a cousin from another branch of the Foley family, Edward Foley (1747-1803). This was Edward’s second marriage, with the first having been annulled (presumably by Act of Parliament) but no reason for this can be found. He was the proprietor of the Stoke Edith estate in Herefordshire, and the marriage settlement specified that Eliza and Edward’s oldest child, Edward Thomas Foley (1791-1847) should inherit Stoke Edith, and their second son, John Hodgetts Hodgetts Foley (1797-1861), should inherit the Prestwood estate. It was this John who, through his major land ownership in the Kingswinford area, was to play such a major role in its industrialization. He was the Whig MP for Droitwich from 1822 to 1834 and for East Worcestershire from 1847 to 1861. His rather odd name was the result of formalizing Hodgetts as part of the surname by royal license in 1821. He was married to Charlotte Margaret Gage, granddaughter of General Thomas Gage, who commanded the British armies in the early stages of the US War of Independence. By the time of the Fowler Maps of 1822 and 1840, he held the largest block of land in the manor after that of the Earl of Dudley – 381 ha in 1822 and 266 ha in 1840. His properties in 1822 were built around the old Hodgetts estates in Shut End, the former lands of the Bendy family in Shut End and Holbeach, and the Foley inheritance at Prestwood. He had also gained significant land from the Enclosure Acts in the Ashwood enclosure, largely extending his Prestwood holdings, and also some land in the Pensnett area following the enclosure of the Chase. Foley himself lived at Prestwood, while Shut End Hall was leased to Thomas Dudley (1749-1829), part of the Dudley family with extensive inter-generational marriage links with the Hodgetts, Keelings and others. The land around Prestwood was leased out as two farms – North Farm of 96 ha farmed by Robert Roper, and South Farm 0f 73.5 ha farmed by John Beddard. By 1840 Foley’s total ownership in the parish had decreased somewhat, through the sale of the Shut End Estate to James Foster. Foster was a prominent local Ironmaster from Stourbridge, who owned the firm John Bradley and Co., and was also partner in Foster, Rastrick and Co. He radically changed the nature of the Shut End Estate, with the demolition of the Hall, and the building of the Shut End Blast Furnaces in the grounds, together with associated coal and iron stone mines. He was also instrumental in the building of the Kingswinford Railway and the Stourbridge Extension canal to serve these works. Around Prestwood both farms were by this time leased to John Beddard (157 ha in total).
The Hodgetts tree shows the extensive connections made by marriage with other local families over the course of the centuries. The Bendy, Foley and Bague families have already been mentioned but we also see marriages to the Keeling, Addenbrooke and Brettell families. The Keelings family were holders of major blocks of land in the Kingswinford area in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and both Richard (1677-) and John (1713-1783) served as agents and stewards for the Dudley Estate. John was the last of the line and after his death his properties were held by trustees for 40 or more years, before being divided amongst the descendants of his mainly illegitimate children.
The Addenbrooke family members were also major landowners in the Kingswinford area. Jeremiah Addenbrooke (1701-1773) married Hannah Hodgetts in 1726, one of the two daughters of Thomas Hodgetts (1678-1740), the vicar of Kingswinford mentioned above. The most famous of the Addenbrooke family, John Addenbrooke, the student and fellow of St Catharine’s Hall in Cambridge who founded the Cambridge hospital was the son of Samuel Addenbrooke (1642-1710) shown in the tree, but, despite his fame, he is not a major character in Kingswinford history.
The other family that occurs in the Hodgetts tree is that of the Brettells, who were by marriage related to the Bague and Addenbrooke families. They are clearly an old established Kingswinford family, important enough to have an important thoroughfare name after them in Brettell Lane but are quite hard to pin down. Whilst there are many occurrences of the name Brettell in the marriage and (particularly) death registers, there are very few baptismal entries that would enable their descent to be determined. This is presumably because they were non-conformists of some form (and their association with the Bague family supports this assumption), and the baptismal lists of whatever chapels they might have attended have not survived.
Although KMAP does not take the history of the Hodgetts beyond about 1850, the family contend to reside at Prestwood. John Hodgetts Foley’s son was Henry John Wentworth Hodgetts -Foley (1828-1894), who was also an MP representing South Staffordshire from 1857–1868. He married Jane Frances Anne Vivian, the daughter of the first Lord Vivian. Their son Paul Henry Foley (19 March 1857 –21 January 1928) inherited the Stoke Edith estate, the other portion of the Foley / Hodgetts estate from his great aunt in 1900. Paul Foley briefly played first class cricket for MCC and was influential in the formation of the Minor Counties Championship and was the leading figure in the transformation of Worcestershire CCC from an amateur side to one that won the Minor County Championship on several occasions and gained entry to the County Championship itself in 1899. He was also responsible for the purchase of the Worcestershire New Road ground and the construction of the pavilion there. With these most commendable of activities, Paul more than atoned for whatever may have been the sins of the ambitious Hodgetts in their rise up the social ladder.