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Southwell & District Local History Society Established in 1983


Chapter 1        The Hodgkinsons of Southwell            

Chapter 2        The Hodgkinsons of Southwell, Eighteenth-                          Century Country Attorneys:                                                     Professionalism and Patronage         

Chapter 3        The Leadenham to Mansfield Turnpike           

Chapter 4        Land Enclosures                

Chapter 5        1780: A Year of War, Recession, Riots, and a General                        Election    

Chapter 6         The Diary for 1780 of George Hodgkinson Junior  

Appendix 1       Biographical Notes - Clergy            

Appendix 2       Biographical Notes - Laypeople                    

Appendix 3       The Fetter Lane Society                   

Appendix 4       Men’s Clubs                

Appendix 5       The Ecclesiastical Courts                 


About the book:

In 1780 Britain was at war in a far-off land; the economy was in recession; there were riots on the streets of London; and the government, led by Lord North, was heading for an election.  All of this, together with a record of his daily life as an eighteen-year-old apprentice attorney, is meticulously recorded by George Hodgkinson Junior who worked for his father, also George, in their busy legal practice in Southwell.

Quotes from the diary:

12th January: Set out from Caistor after breakfast about 10 to Gt. Coates through Kaybourne, Swallow Earby [Irby upon Humber], Aylesby, when we arrived at Mathew Gamess’s* at about 12.  Soon after we got in it began to snow and blow most furiously all the afternoon.  After dinner Mr Bailey went about his business into the marshes and I to see the tenants of whom I had to receive 600 and odd pounds for arrears when I absolutely got no more than (mirabile dictu [wonderful to relate]) £11-2s-0d, owing to the amazing scarcity of cash everywhere and times at this juncture wear the most unfavourable aspect, which is the general conversation in all companies. (An illustration of the recession that was affecting agriculture.)

France and Spain had joined in the war on the side of the American rebels and the following  report of a naval engagement appears:

14th February: Received our letters and newspaper as we were at dinner.  In the latter of which was an account as follows. “Last night Sir James Wallace (who was taken in the Experiment) arrived in Town from France.  He brings a confirmation of the news relative to the engagement between a squadron of Spanish ships of the line and Sir George Rodney’s Fleet off St Mary’s on the 16th January last.  St Domingo, flagship blown up Phenix, Princessa, Diligent, taken.  74 guns each. San Julien, San Eugenia taken but were obliged to go into Cadiz to save the crews. The remainder, being 5, separated  and escaped. The action began in a fog, and the Spaniards all attempted to run into Cadiz.”  The bells were rung on the occasion and a universal joy in every countenance. We received a letter per this post from Sir Richard  confirming the above consequential capture.

A First-hand account about the Gordon Riots in a letter from a friend:

8th June: Received a letter from Mr Revell in which he gives a most melancholy account of the situation London is in at this crisis, thro’ a numerous mob assembling in Palace Yard (to the number of 90,000 people) to present the Petition to the Ho[use] to have the late act repealed, (which was passed in favour of the papists) and ever since they have continued to burn and destroy every Chapel belonging to the Papists.  That Newgate is in flames, on the Keeper’s refusing to set 3 Rioters at liberty which were committed there last Friday and that all the Prisoners are  set at Liberty.  In short there is an universal conflagration, for in every part of London there is a fire, and for a more particular account see the papers of this day.

11th June: My Father got home about one, who said he had met many families in the North Road returning from the Bustle [disturbances in London]… The building of Newgate cost (according to the Papers) £140,000.  The work took 11 years to compleat.  Damage done by the Populace has been calculated at £70,000.  No history ever recorded such dreadful outrages that has been committed by those villains.

Friday 7th July My Father set out early this morning for Scarthingmoore, where he met the Archbishop of York, in his way for Bishopthorpe who said that his house in Bloomsbury Sq (as next adjoining to  Lord Mansfield’s) would certainly have been burnt afterwards, had not a party of soldiers interfered.  That he & his Lady lived in Rooms in the Horse Guards during the tumults, & that it was undoubtedly a pre-meditated plot of the French or Americans, or both.  He further said that he was in company with a Fr: Noble, who when he was at Court said he offered to take the odds that London would be in flames on the 8th  June, but that he was severely reproved by the Duc de Chartres.

As Registrar to the Minster Chapter:

20th July: Chapter Day.  Attended with my Father.  The Prebendaries present were:

The Rev’d Mr Porter Can. Res.

Dr Rastall

Dr Caryl*

Dr Heathcote

Mr Peckard*

Mr Becher

Dined at the Residence with the above named, the vicars, etc.  No publick business done in the Chapter House.  The private business was (I heard) respecting how soon & in what manner they could raise the remainder of the money to finish the other 2 intended houses. Adjourned about 7 from thence to Cade’s, where I spent the remainder of the evening.  Mr Peckard was informed by letter from the Archbishop this morning that he had given the vacant Prebend to Mr Le Bord* [later called Laborde], who is Rector or Vicar at Laxton in this neighbourhood tho’ but of small value. (The two houses are a reference to the building of Vicar’s Court in Southwell.)

A visit to Nottingham Races:

1st August. Dined at Mr Bugg’s with Messrs Franks & Meads, when Mr Bugg, Mr M and self set out about 2 for the races, where we arrived about 5,  tho’ one race was over before we got there, which they said was a very excellent one.  Met with my old friend Mr Shaw at the course & returned with him & Holmes to the town of Nottingham after the races.  A great deal of company attended, as did many of the Nobility.  Adjourned to the Play, where I met with  Holmes & his party, Mr Leybourne, Captain Watson & others.  Came away as soon as they had finished ‘School for Scandal,’ which they had most scandalously performed & adjourned to Jones’s where we supped about one.  Shaw, Holmes, Leybourne, Fowler & Dr Pigot were our company, & as we could not get any beds we consequently kept it up all the morning, & were as merry as Punch, Wine & singing could make us.

2nd August. Saw Mr Holmes safe off in the Lincoln coach about 6 & left Shaw about 7 (who promised to come & see me as soon as he had been at home) & set out in Thompson’s returned Post Chaise, & got to Southwell about ½ past 9 – when I breakfasted, after which was obliged  (thro’ previous engagement) to go to Newark, accordingly I went, but as I had forgot the old leases, the parties (Messrs Ridgill, Curtis & Wood) were not willing to proceed to business.

Preparing for the shooting season:

31st August: Prepared the necessary preparations for the destruction of the feathered tribe tomorrow, of which there are a very large breed this season.

1st September: Got up at 5 & immediately set out with Cato, Boy & gun when I met with Mr Oliver in the Micklebarrow who accompanied me, but the thick fog which lasted till near 8 prevented us from seeing across the closes.  So that we could not mark to any certainty.  Found plenty of birds about the Stubbins, but the hot rays of the sun so blinked my sight that I was not able to down with ’em.  Therefore proceeded on to Cottmoore but the corn being so generally standing there we could not find one covey.  Called at Mrs Bailey’s for a Bait  [to take food or a rest] & then pursued our course to Radley & returned home to dinner.  Set out again at 4 with my aforesaid companion up to Stubbins where we found plenty of game & I killed one brace which with one in the morning & a very fine full grown leveret made one Lease & a leveret the sum total of my whole day’s diversion, after walking a full 7 hours in so sultry a day & the ground so exceedingly scorched that the dogs were scarce able to take a 2nd term in the afternoon.  Mr Oliver killed but a brace; we saw a lease of leverets or hares, two of which I shot at, the others escaped by being too far off.  Returned to Mr Oliver’s by 7 & stayed with him half an hour & got home about 8 not near so heartily tired as my dogs seemed to be.