Collingwood Notables Database
Merchant, early settler, horse breeder, land subdivider, Mayor of Melbourne, Member of Parliament
John Hodgson was a merchant who purchased large landholdings in Collingwood in the 1840s. He was the first owner of St Helier’s in Abbotsford, and was thus one of Collingwood’s earliest European inhabitants, before selling the property to Edward Curr in 1842. He was the original owner of the Studley Arms Hotel in Wellington Street, was Mayor of Melbourne from 1853 to 1854, and a member of the Legislative Council from 1853 to 1860.
Hodgson purchased land for speculative purposes in the wave of selling that took place within a year or two of the Government land sales of 1838-39. He became the owner of most of Portions 54, 55 and 67 (northwest of the intersection of Victoria Parade and Hoddle Street). Hodgson over-reached himself and this led to insolvency in 1841. In January 1842 Mr Curr purchased at a sheriff's sale 'at a great bargain' a house ‘lately the property of Mr Hodgson’ on a ‘pretty little spot on the Yarra’. The residence at that date was probably just a four-roomed cottage, as Curr built a new house in 1843.
By late 1842 Hodgson’s finances had recovered. In 1849 he purchased two smaller slices of land. One, the southern end of Portion 56, (northeast of the Victoria Street/Hoddle Street intersection, now Abbotsford) he subdivided immediately; the other was a corner of Portion 73 (southeast of Johnston and Smith streets) which he subdivided in March 1851 and sold in 30 pieces in 1852-53. Many of the plots which he created in the 1850s, particularly on the Flat, remained vacant for up to 20 years.
The Studley Arms Hotel in Wellington Street originally belonged to John Hodgson, although it seems he was never a licensee or resident of the building. In mid 1851 the construction of his bluestone building was interrupted by the rush to the goldfields, but in mid 1852 it was enlarged to accommodate gold migrants, and was for a time the most substantial hotel in the district. It was originally planned as three shops, one of which was afterwards used for municipal offices and the Court of Petty Sessions until purpose-built structures were erected in Johnston Street in 1857-60. Hodgson was still the owner of the hotel at the time of his death.
When he sold Portion 67 and neighbouring lands in 1841, his ground plan provided for spacious allotments 115 feet by 91 feet. In his subdivisions of 1849-52 Hodgson was responsible for at least four streets which were only 30 feet wide. These were Ferguson Street and James Street in Portion 56 (Abbotsford) and Emerald Street and York Street in Portion 73 (Collingwood). In 1853 Hodgson was appointed president of the Collingwood Equitable Mutual Building and Investment Association, formed with the aim of facilitating house purchase, under the banner “Homes for the Million”.
The Collingwood ‘Flat’ was becoming notorious for its poor drainage. About 1850 Hodgson made an attempt at drainage through Portions 74 and 67 (southwest of the intersection of Hoddle and Johnston Streets, Collingwood), by ploughing a ditch, later called the central drain. It became, as the Central Board of Health stated in 1860, an ‘odious and long-standing nuisance’.
In 1840 Hodgson had taken a squatting licence on land to the east of the Yarra and named his property Studley, later known as Studley Park, believed to be a reference to Studley Royal Park in Yorkshire. The horse stud which he established soon became well-known. He set up a punt across the river from the St Helier’s/Abbotsford area to Studley Park. At first it was for people only, then from 1846 a larger operation started from Clarke Street which could carry men on horseback as well. Mrs Childers in her diary describes crossing the river by Hodgson’s punt when taking possession at St Helier’s in 1855. The punt was made redundant by the Studley Park Bridge, completed at the end of Church Street in 1857. Hodgson was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Studley Park Bridge Company which was responsible for the construction of the bridge, which conveniently provided access to Hodgson’s property.
Hodgson was active in many areas of Melbourne life. As well as his political role, he was a member of the Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science in 1854, the Philosophical Institute of Victoria 1855 and 1857–9 and the Royal Society of Victoria in 1860. He helped establish the Burke and Wills expedition. At a public meeting in the Mechanics Institute in Collins Street, Hodgson with six others formed the Exploration Fund Raising Committee in August 1858. In January 1860, with its work done, the fund-raising committee was dissolved, and the Royal Society of Victoria formed an Exploration Committee, of which Hodgson became Vice Chair on 25 January 1860, the ill-fated expedition setting off in August 1860.
Around 1857 he built what became known as Studley House in Nolan Avenue Kew. Whether this replaced his earlier house, or where precisely the earlier house was, is not clear. Here he died three years later after contracting bronchitis following a weakening bout of the ‘prevailing epidemic’. James McEvoy bought the house and enlarged it. The third owner was John Wren, who bought the property in 1902, and also added substantially to the house. The mansion has belonged to Xavier College since 1966.
From Barrett, The inner suburbs
|Birth Date||Birth Place|
|Spouse Name||Date of Marriage||Children|
|Anna Buckley, c 1803 - 21 January 1853||11 October 1821||Mary Anna 1822, Robert Buckley c. 1825-1878, Isabella Jane c. 1828, John, Francis Herbert 1849? - 27 April 1852; Henry 1850- 17 Dec 1850|
|Isabella Angell Clipperton, 1825-1885||11 June 1859||None|
|Home Street||Home City||Status of Building|
|St Helier's Street||Abbotsford||Demolished|
|Death Date||Death Place||Cemetery|
|2 August 1860||Kew||MGC|
The Argus; Barrett, The inner suburbs; Petherick, Early Collingwood; Barrett, The making of an industrial environment; Otto, Yarra; Curr, Memoranda concerning our family SLV MS 8998.