Hodgkin – Hotchkin – Hotchkiss Family History

Hodgkin.  Hotchkin.  Hotchkiss.  Three names for a single family?

In a word, yes.  A fellow names John Hodgkin (sometimes also spelled Hodke) immigrated circa 1648 from England, settling in Guilford, Connecticut.  He married and raised a family.  And his descendents commonly used the  three variants in this post’s title for their surnames, but, just to keep things interesting, also pluralized the first two of these on occasion, so one occasionally finds Hodgkins and Hotchkins as individual surnames.  Compounding the problems, from a genealogical perspective, is the fact that a man named Samuel Hotchkiss arrived in New Haven proper around the same time.  Samuel also produced a large family, but they at least stuck to Hotchkiss as a surname pretty generally.

If your reaction so far is a big “so what?” it’s not entirely a surprise.  Back in the day spelling of surnames (and pretty much everything else) was an opportunity to exercise one’s creativity, so deviant spellings of surnames are a dime a dozen, really.

However, there were a few aspects of this family that are a bit more interesting than that.

First of all, how’s your British (and American colonial) history?  John Hodgkin came here as part of a migration of Puritans from England — the fact that he settled in Connecticut rather than Massachusetts Bay Colony suggests that he was probably a very strict Puritan as well.  He appears in the records as “Governor Leete’s man” so we find no reason that he would not have fit this pattern.  Fast forward a few years, until the Puritan takeover (think Oliver Cromwell) in England, when the victors decided to execute the King they had deposed.  The judges on that court became known, after the monarchy was restored, as the Regicides (and king-killing is not favorably viewed by monarchists in general).

So, unsurprisingly, the hunt for the Regicides began.  Two, named Whalley and Goffe, had fled to New England (they were fortunate to get out of England alive) (for a list of all the Regicides and what happened to them, try Wikipedia).  Since New England was still a British colony, they had not outrun the law, however, and the King’s agents searched for them here.  They were spirited from house to house, from community to community, even from colony to colony — and one of their stopovers was with John Hodgkin and his family.

The Hodgkin/Hotchkin/etc. family tended, in subsequent generations, to produce clergymen, a few of whom developed well-deserved reputations as writers, and others of whom developed reputations for other things.

The writers included the Rev. James Hervey Hotchkin, who wrote an early history about the settlement of Western New York State (which we have re-published on CD-ROM — find more information HERE); and the Rev. S. F. Hotchkin (he defied family tradition and became an Episcopal priest) who wrote a series of local history books about Philadelphia and the surrounding area — we plan to republish one of these soon.

Less savory were Hotchkin clergymen who sided against a Connecticut girl marrying a Hawaiian native to the extent that he led a schism in the local Congregational church, and another who had a missionary interest in Native American and black women in the South around the time of the Civil War.  He is notable not because he saved many souls, but because his ministrations to these unfortunate women produced a branch of the family referred to today as the Black Hotchkins.

John Hodgkin (Hotchkin) of Guilford, CT and his Descendents
John Hodgkin (Hotchkin) of Guilford, CT and his Descendents

All of this is prelude to the fact that the principal partner of Between the Lakes Group, along with a number of hard working and intelligent family members, back in the 1980s, produced a book entitled “John Hodgkin (Hotchkin) of Guilford, CT and his descendents”.  The book sold out two printings in hard cover almost immediately — there are indeed many descendents of John Hotchkin, or at least many people who want to know about his and the family he produced —  and now we have re-published it in digital form as a download.  If you go HERE to our New Haven, CT page, you can learn more about this download — and perhaps enjoy a copy of your own.

(We should add that unlike some in the genealogy biz, we believe that all lines, male and female, legitimatized by matrimony or not, deserve to be followed.  In preparing this book we followed this practice, and we hope that you appreciate this and understand that as a result there are some surnames appearing in the index nearly as frequently as Hotchkin does — Beers is an example.)

 

 

 

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