Journal Volume 3 2000

The Hodson/Adair Family of Hollybrook (continued/5)

An Eminent Victorian

Sir George Hodson excelled as a committee man. His paternalistic, but benevolent attitude was eminently Victorian. He was honorary secretary of the Delgany Dispensary Committee under the Medical Charities Act of 1852 continuously for thirty years, keeping the minute book in excellent order. Meetings were held at Hollybrook, in Delgany Glebe and in Peter La Touche's Glen of the Downs Cottage. Matters discussed often lacked in excitement. Sir George's finest hour came during the Great Famine, when he served on the Bray Famine Relief Committee, drew up petitions to Dublin Castle, lobbied for support for the poor from Little Bray to the Glen of the Downs and supervised the distribution of Indian corn and oatmeal. In an age, which rarely appreciated the social history contained in such documents, Sir George preserved both Bray and Delgany Minutes in Hollybrook. These valuable sources are now among the Hodson Papers in the National Library of Ireland.

Sir George became the first chairman of the Rathdown Board of Guardians at Loughlinstown, Co. Dublin, which regulated the workhouse admissions of, e.g., the people of Delgany and the emerging Greystones. He remained in the chair for almost fifty years, being presented with an address of gratitude by the workhouse children in 1883. When the stigma of the poorhouse reduced employment prospects for girls in the 1850s, some were taken on in Hollybrook.

He was also the chairman of the Royal Agricultural Society of Ireland. In 1879 Disraeli, then British Prime Minister, invited Sir George to serve on a royal commission of inquiry into the depressed state of agriculture, but he declined. His reasons were "failing health consequent upon advanced years and the depression caused by the recent death of my son in South Africa."

In 1852 he had married Meriel Neville. Despite their Republican connections, the Hodsons were firmly in the Victorian imperialist tradition: the couple's second son, George Frederick John, served in Gibraltar and was killed in the Zulu War in South Africa in 1879.

After Sir George's death in 1888, Sir Robert Adair Hodson continued serving on the Rathdown Board of Guardians for some time, but never achieved his father's prominent position. In 1898 the new Wicklow County Council democratised and superseded this power base of the landlord class. Although their political influence was on the decline, Hodsons held on in Hollybrook until well into the 20th century, when they left for Britain.

    • Wicklow News-Letter 7 & 14 April 1888. Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, Hodson entry, (Switzerland, 1999).

    • E. Ellis & P.B. Eustace (eds.) Registry of Deeds Abstracts of Wills 1785-1832 (Dublin, 1984); Genealogical Office Ms 178, Hodson entry; M.L. 1748 Forster Adair and Anne Ribton; Ms 16,410 Adair rent ledger, Hodson Papers.

    • Genealogical Office Ms 178, opus cit; Brian Cantwell Memorials to the Dead in North Wicklow, St.Paul's, Bray entry.

    • Ms 21,602 Copy of the Will of Forster Adair of Hollybrook, Hodson Papers.

    • Burke's, op. cit; Burke's Landed Gentry, Edwards entry (London, 1965).

    • Ellis & Eustace Op. cit. Will of Dame Ann Hodson, otherwise Adair.

    • Riall Family Papers in NLI; Burke's Peerage, op. cit.

    • Dictionary of National Biography, Sheares entry; Dr R.R. Madden Lives of the United Irishmen; Genealogical Office Ms 178.

    • Arthur L. Doran Bray and Environs (Bray, 1985); "Lighting by gas of Hollybrooke, Co. Wicklow"...Dublin Builder, vol. 1, no. 6 p. 76 June 1, 1859.

    • Anna Stack Unpublished B.Ed. thesis, 1986 (Our Lady of Mercy College of Education, Blackrock, Co. Dublin).

    • Ms 16,411 Minute book of the Delgany Dispensary Committee, 1852-1883; Ms 16,412 Minute book of the Bray Local Relief Committee, Co. Wicklow Apr.-Sept., 1846; Ms 21,610 Letter from Prime Minister Lord Beaconsfield, all Hodson Papers; Minutes of the Rathdown Board of Guardians in National Archives.

    • Ms 21,610 Letter from Prime Minister Lord Beaconsfield; Burke's Peerage op. cit.

    • There is a memorial tablet to Sir Robert Adair Hodson in Kilbride C of I near Hollybrook.


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