1952 – The 1751 Will


In Jamaica at Southfield, widower, Mass Teddy was still a very heavy drinker, regularly supping his favourite tipple, strong Jamaican white rum. Often intoxicated at a rum bar, he would tell his friends “I drink like the Scotsman that I am” He would boast to them “I am going to be a millionaire when I get my money from Scotland” His friends had heard him say this many times before and didn’t take him seriously, dismissing it all as the usual ‘rum talk’

Was there any truth in what Mass Teddy said, could he really have become a millionaire?

Mass Teddy often used to say he was a Scotsman, saying there was a ‘big estate’ in Scotland that his father should have inherited in the 1800’s.

“I heard Mass Teddy’s father should have been a Scottish Laird or something” (Telephone conversation 2000-2003 with Althea Mair, daughter of Victor Elijah Mair. Sam & Emmy’s son)

It was known by family members that he made enquiry’s into a Scottish estate and was contacted at Southfield by Solicitors or representatives? who tried to help him authenticate his claim. It is said that he was asked to provide proof of his birth or descent? As far as I am aware, nothing ever materialised from it.

Some man tried to help my father get some wills. (Telephone conversation 1999-2001 with Hortense Parris, née Hodgson. Daughter of Mass Teddy and Mabel)

Mae

Mae, the eldest child of Mass Teddy, continued the investigations from New York but was told that it was too late because the estate in question had long been sold. However, she was told that land rental income of the estate still existed. These fees had been accumulating on the estate lands for more than a century.

Maurice

The eldest son, Maurice hired a Jamaican Barrister to look into it. He employed Norman Manley to help him, a man who destined to become the first ever Prime Minister of Jamaica.

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Norman Washington Manley, 1st Prime Minister Of Jamaica

We all heard that Mass Teddy and Mabel’s first son approached Norman Manley, an attorney about the estate in Scotland. Manley looked into it and discovered that the estate had been advertised and sold off, it was now too late. (Telephone Conversation 2001-2003 with Shirley Monica Mair, daughter of  Ruldolph Beresford Hodgson Mair. Sam & Emmy’s son)

Cecil

The Hodgson’s had not given up hope of claiming this huge fortune, which was believed to be in the £millions. Maybe it would be easier to claim it from the United Kingdom. Before Cecil set off for England, Mass Teddy told him to go and claim the estate when he got to the UK. Mast Teddy was excited and very adamant that Cecil would get the money.

At Southfield, my grandfather Mass Teddy, rubbed my head and said “dont worry, there is plenty of money in Scotland. Cecil’s gone to England, he will get it now” (Telephone conversation 2000-2002 with the late Myrtle Millicent Williams née Hodgson, daughter of Linton Clarence Hodgson)

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Myrtle Hodgson, Jamaica c1950’s

Cecil was now settled in the Midlands. About 1952, he travelled to London and visited the Public Records Office at Somerset House in the city of London. In search of the elusive Scottish estate, he hired a Solicitor who eventually located a Scottish will or document dated 1751 that was connected to the estate. He provided Cecil with a copy of it.

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Cecil Visited The Public Records Office at Somerset House c1952

Cecil then travelled more than 300 miles up to Scotland to see the estate.

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Cecil Visited Eccles House Estate, Berwickshire, Scotland c1952
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‘Eccles House’ Was Rebuilt In 1898. This Is Not The One That Paterson & Bromfield Fought Over In The 1700’s
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Cecil Viewed The Rebuilt House. Photographed In 2012

Before we met, Cecil went to some sort of museum or library in London. He travelled 309 miles from London to Scotland. He took a big map with him to Scotland about 1952. He told me that he saw the house, and said it was big like ‘Shakespeare’s House’ (Telephone conversation 2003 with Helen Hodgson née Kirkpatrick, widow of Cecil)

The 1751 Will

The London Solicitor had informed Cecil that the Scottish property, Eccles House, Berwickshire, had been advertised and sold off many years ago. He told him that because there had been a duration of more than 200 years, he would have to contest it, and this would come at a cost. He told Cecil that if his claim was unsuccessful, he would lose all his money. He wanted to apply for it, but because it would be very expensive to make the claim, Cecil didn’t pursue it for now….

Uncle Cecil said the solicitor told him that he stood only a 50/50 chance of being successful. (Telephone conversation 1999 with my father Renford Hodgson. Nephew of Cecil)

1999

When I first spoke to my dad in 1999 about our history, he mentioned to me that in the 1950’s, Cecil had shown him a 1751 will. My dad was a young man then, it was a long time ago, therefore his memory couldn’t recall for sure whose name was on it. He thought maybe Hodgson or Broomfield? He recalled seeing Huntingdon? and Kelso written. It is my belief that what Uncle Cecil showed my dad was, not just one, but a collection of several British and Jamaican documents.

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Broomfield (Bromfield) Huntingdon (Hassington) and Kelso.

Court Battle

After nearly a long decade (2001-2010) of determined research going back and forth to Scotland, I finally resolved the mystery of ‘The 1751 Will’ when I visited snowed out Edinburgh for the umpteenth time in December 2010. I was very fortunate to solve it.

My accommodation had been booked there for three nights to conduct a huge search at the Archives. I found nothing over the 3 days and was about to leave snowed out, yet picturesque Edinburgh the next morning but the window wipers on my car had frozen solid, causing a fuse to blow.

The weather was treacherous so I called out my vehicle recovery to fix it and decided to stay for one more day. This proved to be a blessing in disguise. I went back to the Archives the very next morning and unexpectedly found the treasure trove that I had been frantically in search of for a decade. It had taken me a lifetime to find it.

After I found the all important documents needed to solve the puzzle, I asked the Archivist if anyone else had ever requested to see these old dusty documents before. He consulted the Archives search registers that only went back 50 years and told me that nobody had ever requested to see the documents during that period. He also said it was very unlikely that anyone else had read them for 200 years.

I noticed a blond hair inside the Archives box, which I carefully placed back into it. I will be revisiting again sometime in the future to recover that hair strand, in order to get it DNA tested. Could it belong to an ancestor?

I am quite certain that Cecil never saw these documents that I found. However he may have found copies of some of them that had been registered in another building of the Archives.

Bromfield v Paterson

When I arrived home I studied the copies of the documents thoroughly for many months, then a few years later in July 2012 travelled back to Scotland. I had been to Eccles on several occasions before but had never before ventured past the gate entrance into Eccles House Estate. This time I decided to follow in Cecil’s footsteps by going onto the Estate. What I saw was breathtaking. After gaining permission to walk around the glorious estate, I video recorded it and photographed it.

From reading the documents at home, I discovered that the 1751 story centred around two Scottish families who were neighbours related to each other, Paterson of Eccles House and Bromfield of Hassington Mains. Both of their properties were within a short distance of Kelso. Eccles House was a 45 windowed mansion.

Hassington Mains

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Bromfield’s Hassington Mains Was Rebuilt In The 1900’s. Photographed In 2001

Mass Teddy’s father, Edward Chisholm Hodgson, had inherited Southfield Pen from a Bromfield in the 1860’s. He had an old will that mentioned Hassington Mains. This will was handed down through the family. Maurice Hugh Hodgson took it with him when he emigrated to New York in 1924. Mass Teddy and all his children were aware of this estate. Cecil would certainly have visited Hassington Mains at the same time that he visited Eccles House. Hassington Mains was a smaller country farmhouse.

About 2002, I asked Maurice Hodgson’s daughter, Elinor, if she could send me a copy of the original will that her late father had in his home. “It has been laminated in a frame and has badly faded. It is unreadable and can’t be copied” she replied. Luckily the old will had been transcribed many years before, so she sent me a typed up copy instead.

(That transcription will be uploaded onto the blog at a relevant date)

I was already aware of the Bromfield estate long before I solved the 1751 story. In fact, in 2001, I had met the owners of Hassington Mains – no relation to the Bromfield’s – and was invited into their home and allowed to photograph the house and estate.

An interesting thing to note about the Bromfield’s of Hassington Mains is that a member of their family, who was residing in Jamaica at the time of the court case, would later become the owner of Southfield Pen.

The two owners of the above properties in the 1780’s, Paterson and Bromfield, were both childless and become embroiled in a House of Lords court battle that would run through the 1780’s. It was to be a family fight that would end up seeing Eccles House Estate without a male heir, in debt and sold off.

That event would ultimately leave a trail of potential heirs in Jamaica. Only a male could inherit. One considered heir, in later years, was to be Mass Teddy’s father Edward Chisholm Hodgson of Southfield Pen!

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The Story Was Solved After Finding These Documents At Edinburgh Dec 2010
National Archives of Scotland, 2010
Back To Edinburgh Researching More Documents. July 2012

Both of the Scottish families that fought at court – Paterson and Bromfield – were ancestors of Edward Chisholm Hodgson (Ned) of Southfield. You may be wondering; why Ned didn’t inherit or what If Cecil Hodgson had contested the 1751 will, would he have become a Scottish millionaire? To find all this out you will have to read the full detailed story of the Paterson’s and Bromfield’s.

What I have posted today is just a ‘very brief’ summary of what has been discovered. There is so much more to tell and photographs to see from my visit to Eccles House Estate in 2012. It is a very long detailed story and will be covered in it’s entirity at a much later date using a series of many blogs running from 1687 through to the 1800’s period.

It will be continued at a later date….

“I feel very proud to have traced the footsteps of my Uncle, Cecil Hodgson. Researching about part of his life and learning about The 1751 Will has been exciting, very time-consuming, expensive, but most of all it has been charming and extremely enjoyable.

Discovering the places that Cecil visited in the 1950’s has been surprising. Walking around the grounds of those Scottish estates that are forever connected to our family has been brilliant. I find it unbelievable that my family, the Southfield Hodgson’s descend from such historic places in Scotland.

Without researching my family history, I doubt that I would ever have visited charming Scotland. What a loss that would have been. I first went to Scotland in 2001 and fell in love with the place. Visiting beautiful Scottish places has been a real highlight. Mae Hodgson once told my father “The Hodgson’s should have been rich” When my dad first told me this, it didn’t mean much to me at the time, but now I know exactly what Mae meant” Robert Roy Hodgson

P.S This is just a thought at the moment. Sometime in the future, after the completion of my blog story, To Jamaica and Beyond, I may decide to run guided tours for family members to show you the wonderful places in England and Scotland connected to our family history. I have already conducted two guided tours in 2016 with some of my immediate family members, which they all found amazing and thoroughly enjoyed. I will keep you informed 😀

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Next Blog : 1953 – New Lodgings

 

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