George was born in Tockington about 1820. We have not been able to trace any record of his birth or baptism. His parents were John Hodges, a builder and his wife, Sarah. Read more about John and Sarah
George chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and take up carpentry as his trade. The 1841 Census shows he was a carpenter journeyman living with his parents in Laburnum Terrace.
George married Mary Fairbrother in Thornbury on 1st June 1850. Mary had been born in Abingdon, Berkshire, the daughter of James Fairbrother, an ironmonger. She was to die within a year of the marriage, perhaps caused by the birth of their daughter, Mary Fairbrother Hodges who was born about the same time.
In the 1851 census, George was a carpenter employing 2 men. On 24th May 1853 he married again, this time to Tracey Staley, who was 10 years younger than George who was then aged 33. She was the daughter of Joseph Staley, a farmer from Kington.
By the time of the 1861 census, George and Tracey had had four children of their own, but one these, Joseph Staley Hodges died within a few months of his birth in 1856. The other children were; John Hodges who was baptised 4th June 1854, Sarah Ann Hodges, baptised 15th July 1857, Fanny Staley Hodges, baptised 2nd February 1859.
By the 1851 census George was employing five men and two boys. It is likely that he had he had now taken over the building of the last few houses in the house.
The family continued to grow. George Hodges junior was baptised 12 February 1862, followed by; James Albert Hodges baptised 13th May 1863, Emma Jane Hodges 14th June 1865, Austin Edgar Hodges 29th January 1868 and Laura Evelyn Hodges 14th April 1869.
This means that by the 1871 census, George and Tracey had five more children. They were now all living in Laburnum House (otherwise 6 Gloucester Road) which was to be their home for the remainder of George’s life. The size of his carpentry firm had grown in line with his family. He was now employing 10 men and 1 boy.
By 1881, he was calling himself ‘a builder’ and employing two of his sons, John and James as carpenters. George was still working as a builder in 1891 when he was aged 71, and his third son, Austin was following in the family tradition by becoming a carpenter.
By 1901 George had retired. Tracey died in 1898 aged 68 years. She was buried on 17th June 1898. George died on 22nd June 1905 aged 85 years and he was buried on 26th June 1905. Tracey and George were both buried in Thornbury Cemetery.
George had become a celebrated member of Thornbury Society. He was a mace bearer for the Town Corporation for 40 years. He had the honour of leading the Town processions on days of national importance. He first carried the Union Jack at the Coronation of Her Majesty the Queen Victoria in 1838 when only 18 years old. He carried it on five more occasions of national importance including the marriage of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in 1863, Victoria’s Jubilee in 1887; the marriage of the Duke of York in 1893 and Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
The final occasion was in 1902 at the Coronation of the new King when George was aged 82. He was also involved in loyalist celebrations such as those following the announcement of the Relief of Ladysmith in 1900 – here George led the ‘feu de joie’, a gathering and firing of guns in salute. Apart from his ceremonial duties as Sergeant of the Mace, George was responsible for letting the property belonging to the Town Trust and collecting rents from the tenants.
George was involved in many areas of Thornbury life. St Mary’s School records show that in 1894 George Hodges “donated peas for the soup at the National School” and various newspaper articles in Gloucester Records Office show that he was a Committee Member for the Thornbury Flower Show in 1884, 1885 and 1888.
In the obituary printed in the Gloucester Journal dated 19th August 1905 it mentioned that George was “a retired builder and an expert connoisseur of old coins, paintings and antique furniture”. Another obituary in The Dursley Gazette of July 1st 1905 has more about the coins; “A somewhat singular coincidence of the funeral was the fact that his valuable collection of old coins, which he for a number of years had made it one of his greatest hobbies to collect at considerable expense, was sold by auction at Messrs Sotherby’s in London on the same day that his remains were laid to rest. Sometime previous to his short illness, which terminated in his death, he had consigned his collection of coins to the above firm, and the arrangement for the sale was so far advanced that it was found unpracticable to postpone the sale.”
Of the children of George Hodges
- Mary Fairbrother Hodges. Her birth was registered in the Thornbury District in the June Quarter of 1851 and she was baptised in Thornbury on 1st June 1851. She died in Thornbury in 1880 aged only 29. She was buried in Thornbury on September 10th.
- Joseph Staley Hodges was baptised in Thornbury on 3rd February 1856. He lived for fifteen weeks and was buried in Thornbury on April 29th.
- John Hodges was baptised in Thornbury on 4th June 1854. He married Elizabeth Matthews Rugman in June 1884. Sadly he also died young. He was 37 years old when 1892 on February 10th he died in his home in Castle Street after a long and painful illness and was buried in Thornbury on 15th February. He left a widow and a baby son, also called John Hodges.
- Sarah Ann Hodges was baptised 15th July 1857. Sarah never married and was a housekeeper in Heaton Road, Mitcham in 1911.
- Fanny Staley Hodges was baptised 2nd February 1859. She never married and was living in Wellington in Somerset when she died on November 12th 1927 aged 68 years.
- George Hodges junior was baptised 12 February 1862, He died aged eight years and was buried in Thornbury on 1st February 1870
On the death of George Hodges, ownership of his property was transferred to his Trustees, his four surviving daughters, Sarah Ann Hodges, Fanny Staley Hodges, Emma Jane Hodges and Laura Evelyn Balls and one of his two surviving sons, Austin Edgar Hodges. George excluded his second son, James Albert Hodges who lived in Pullins Green and worked as a builder and wheelwright.
Over the years, these Trustees gradually died off and new ones were appointed to ensure that the Estate was managed properly. The first trustee, Emma Jane Fry (nee Hodges), died on 14th January 1925. This was followed in quick succession by Sarah Anne Hodges who died 18th July 1925 and Laura Evelyn Balls who died 5th December 1925. Fanny Staley Hodges was appointed as her executrix and when she died 9th November 1927, Gladys Evelyn Balls, the daughter of Laura Evelyn Balls and Percy J. W. Balls, watchmaker and hairdresser, was appointed as executrix.
Austin Edgar Hodges died 1st November 1945. He had moved to Walton on Thames where he had been a dairyman. On his death, he appointed his son, Geoffrey Stephen Hodges, as executor. Geoffrey Stephen Hodges and John Hodges were appointed as trustees on 25th March 1947. Geoffrey Stephen Hodges died 8th October 1953. He had been living in Weybridge, Surrey. At that time: George Hodges’s estate comprised:
- 1, 2, 5 and 6 Laburnum Terrace together with gardens in occupation of Percy Hand, Mrs Organ, L C Smith and George Excell. (These are now 8, 10, 16 and 18 Gloucester Road)
- land at Gloucester Road in the hands of Charles G. Smith
- five dwelling houses at Pullins Green. These were in the occupation of Mrs Higgins, George Ord, P Wilkinson, Frank Biddle, and Hubert Bayliss
- a dwelling house and land in St John Street in occupation of Miss Green
In 1954 the people with responsibility for managing the Estate, who were known to be members of the Hodges family, were John Hodges and Gladys Balls. John (see insert), known locally as ‘Jack’ was a builder living in Bank Cottage, Castle Street, having previously lived on the other side of the road in Clematis Cottage. “Jack” was the son of John Hodges, the eldest son of George. Jack had a difficult life – his father had died within five months of his birth in 1892 and by the time of his early 20s, he had to look after his mother. During the First World War Jack applied for exemption from military service because of his mother’s poor health. According to his statement, she was a “confirmed invalid” and he had to lift her into and out of bed and because she couldn’t speak he had to “transact her normal business”.
Gladys Balls was the daughter of Laura Evelyn Hodges, George’s youngest daughter. Gladys ran a sweet shop and hairdressers in the High Street. Apparently she was known by some people as “hairy balls” because, when she served bull’s eyes and other boiled sweets, the hairs on her hands could find their way on to the sweets! Read about Gladys Balls and her family
In 1961 the trustees were Gladys Evelyn Balls and Bridget McKearney. Bridget, a school teacher spinster, was appointed to replace John Hodges who died on 11th February 1961. We do not know the relationship between John and Bridget. At that time, George Hodges’s estate comprised number 8 Gloucester Road occupied by Percy Hand and three houses in Pullins Green occupied by Messrs Ord, Biddle and Baylis.
Gladys Balls died 31st August 1969. Kathleen Mary Jones, a married woman of Cowhill was appointed as trustee. At that time only No.8 Gloucester Road and an unspecified house at Pullins Green remained in the estate.
The houses were gradually sold off until only number 8 was left. In 1971 the then Trustees, Bridget McKearney and Kathleen Mary Jones, sold 8 Gloucester Road, finally ending any connection between the terrace and the Hodges family.
Click here to read about George’s son John Hodges