William Hodge was the son of Thomas Hodge who had been the Simonsbath carpenter in the 1850s.  He was brought up in Simonsbath and returned to the village in 1875 when he was 34.  He was carpenter there until about 1895.



In 1875 John Karslake, who had been Estate Carpenter since 1857, left Simonsbath and moved to Braunton.  William Hodge returned to the village where his father had been carpenter and where he had spent his boyhood and set up in business as a wheelwright and carpenter.  He moved into the cottage and carpenter’s shop on Birch Cleave vacated by John Karslake and his family and for which he paid £4.10.0 per year rent.

William had been born in North Molton in 1841.  He was the son of Thomas and Jane Hodge and moved with them to Simonsbath in about 1849. (See The Simonsbath Carpenters 2 : Thomas Hodge).  William is recorded as living in Simonsbath with his family in the 1851 Census when he was ten and a scholar.   

However the family had left Simonsbath by the time of the 1861 Census and were then living at Heasley Mill, North Molton.  William was 20 by this time and he was living with his parents and, like his father, is listed as being a carpenter.

William married Elizabeth Hodge of North Molton, daughter of Henry, at North Molton Church on 25 November 1866

The young couple appear to have then moved to America in the late 1860s or early 1870s as their daughter, Grace, was born in New York in 1873. (1881 Census)

However they had moved back to Simonsbath by 1875 and it is there that their son, Horace, was born in 1877.

The 1881 Census for Exmoor records William Hodge, aged 40, a wheelwright employing one man, living with his wife Elizabeth (41), daughter Grace (8), a scholar born in America, and Horace (4) born on Exmoor.  William’s brother, Henry, (22), born at Withypool and also a wheelwright was living with them..

In the 1891 Census for Exmoor William Hodge is described as being a Master Carpenter , living with his wife, Elizabeth (50), born in North Molton,; his daughter, Grace (18) born in New York, America, and their son Horace (14) born on Exmoor.

 In about 1892 James Welch, his wife and son moved to Simonsbath (See The Simonsbath Carpenters 5 : James Welch).  It is possible that he was employed for a while by William Hodge, perhap taking over from William's brother, Henry, also a wheelwright, who had left Simonsbath by the time of the 1891 Census.

Burton (1994) says that "At some time around 1893, William Hodge, carpenter and wheelwight of Simonsbath, retired but appears to have lived in the village for a few more years though he did not die there."

William would have only been 53 in 1893 so that while he may have given up his job in Simonsbath it is unlikely that he retired and he is still listed as carpenter in Kelly's Directory 1894.  However he is not listed in the 1897 Directory.   

It is not yet known where William. Elizabeth, Grace and Horace Hodge went and what became of them.


© Graham Wills