William Hope Hodgson’s father, Samuel Hodgson, is a cypher. We know very little of the man himself beyond some dates and events. We know where he was born, where he went to school, when he was ordained, where he served and when he died. But we don’t know much of the man’s personality, thoughts or beliefs. Still, he loomed large in the life of WHH and all of his family.
WHH’s relationship with his father is thought to have been strained. Sam Moskowitz relates instances of the two often fighting and perhaps this is what led to WHH’s running away from home to join the Merchant Marine at the youthful age of 13. Samuel Hodgson’s temper may also be why he was assigned to so many different posts during his career.
One of the things that we do know is that Samuel Hodgson matriculated from Lichfield Theological College in 1869. This College was located in Lichfield, Staffordshire, and had only been opened twelve years earlier in 1857. The school was eventually closed in 1972 and most of the buildings were demolished or refurbished.
Lichfield apparently never became a well-known college but a 2008 obituary of the Right Reverend John Yates, who had served as principal of the college in 1966-1971, stated that:
In 1966 he was appointed principal of Lichfield Theological College. This was not one of the foremost clergy training institutions but it had developed some interesting “sandwich” courses, involving its students in parish as well as academic work, and it also catered for older ordination candidates.
Over the next six years Yates continued the college’s work along these lines, and in 1971 he was appointed a prebendary of Lichfield Cathedral.
But a radical reorganisation of the Church of England’s theological colleges led to several closures, Lichfield among these. Yates was at this point invited by Archbishop Coggan of York to become Bishop of Whitby. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1580496/The-Right-Reverend-John-Yates.html)
For more information about Lichfield Theological College and some photos, I recommend:
Patrick Comerford’s blog which gives an excellent history of the school along with more recent photos. (http://www.patrickcomerford.com/2012/11/a-busmans-holiday-visiting-former.html)
Annette Rubery’s website which reproduces several wonderful photos of the College from around 1912. (http://www.annetterubery.co.uk/?p=3337)
I do not think that we can underestimate the influence that Samuel had on his family and especially on his most creative child, WHH. Although we cannot begin to know Samuel at this late point in time, we can at least see some of the locations that he knew.