Skelsmurgh parish, Kendal, Westmorland.

Dodding Green - former Roman Catholic Chapel
Photograph © Les Strong

Growing up in County Durham, my grandmother, Edith Hogarth, would tell us that we were related to this branch of Hogarths.  However, such a link now appears quite unlikely.  I don't completely rule it out, since life (and genealogy) continues to be full of surprises, but I now believe that Edith had probably just assumed it, because of our surnames and Catholic faith.

Bishop William Hogarth  (25 Mar 1786 - 29 Jan 1866). First Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle (1848-66), he was born at Dodding Green and died in Darlington, Co. Durham, where his modest house in Coniscliffe Road, with its commemorative plaque, can still be seen.

The Very Rev. Robert Hogarth  (15 Jan 1785 - 7 Feb 1868), was also a Catholic priest.  Like his brother, Bishop William, he was born at Dodding Green, returning to spend his twilight years there.

These were sons of William Hogarth, tenant farmer of Dodding Green, in the parish of Skelsmurgh, about two miles north of Kendal, in Westmorland (now part of Cumbria).  William was the son of Edward Hogarth, who was the son of John Hogarth. The text below, reveals that William Hogarth and his wife also had a grown up son & daughter living with them in 1802, after Robert & William (who would then be aged 16 & 17) had left to follow their religious vocations.  Their identities are currently unknown.

The passages which follow are taken from 'The Story of Skelsmurgh' by Sister Agnes.

During the last years of Father Johnston a new arrangement had been conceived and carried out at Dodding more or less satisfactorily. The house and farm was let to a competent farmer who lived there as tenant, four rooms being always reserved for the use of the priest, the number being reduced to two when Father Wilkinson was in charge. The first farmer to live in the house was William Hoggarth of Skelsmergh a distant relative of the Thorburghs: while he looked after the farm and estate his wife looked after the house and acted as housekeeper to the priest who might be living there.

The following interesting letter written by Father Wilkinson to Father Bannister, when he heard of his appointment clearly shows the whole situation, which had developed and incidentally gives a vivid picture of the domestic furnishings.


December 22nd, 1802

Dear Sir,

On the 20th in the eve your kind favour was duly delivered here and I hasten to reply as soon as circumstances will permit.  Last week the Bishop intimated that someone would be settled at Dodding shortly, but till your kind communication I knew not on whom to fix my expectations.  I had often thought the Green a fit asylum for merit, old age and infirmity and am glad our bishopís judgment confirms my opinion.  At the same time I congratulate with you on your appointment to what I hope will be a comfortable retirement and with myself on having at hand so much learning to instruct me and such an example to follow.  Mr.Wharton is very well acquainted with the place in question and without doubt what he wrote you would be strictly accurate, yet perhaps he might be a stranger to some particulars or they might have escaped his recollection.  Mr.Johnson was latterly a boarder with the farmer but at first he was some years not only a housekeeper but managed the greater part of the estate till he almost starved it and it would have starved him had he not been otherwise provided for.  But as a housekeeper he had such furniture as was requisite for his purpose and what he had he bequeathed to the place and there it is in very decent repair.  Mr.Lonsdale also brought a few articles with him, which now belong to the place.  In short there is one bed and bedding, very good and complete and another old indeed but the same that Mr.Johnson and Mr.Lonsdale used, there are also two or three others for servants.  There are a dozen very good chairs and others.  Several tables, writing desks, drawers, chests, cupboards, carpets (these last damaged), fire irons, tankards, castors, salts, glasses etc.  There is also table and bed linen but of the last article you would do well to bring or send some or procure it here as I hear it is in general far worn.  There are I understand very few kitchen utensils. In regard to your keeping house there can and will be no objection provided you can make it convenient to yourself which may be done, though the house is certainly very confined for that purpose.  There are two rooms on the ground floor, a parlour and one adjoining which Mr.Lonsdale made out of the old hall and was at once his bedchamber and sitting room when alone.  The farmer has the kitchen, nor can he do without it in my opinion.  Above stairs there are two lodging rooms for your use and in each a good stock of books.  The rest of the house the farmer must have or I fear at times sleep out of doors.  The chapel is over the kitchen.  The farmerís family consists of himself and wife, a son and daughter both grown up, a servant man and maid, and at present a young girl relation.  In hay time and harvest they have usually in addition two hired men.

There are no more than fifteen or sixteen Catholics in the neighbourhood belonging to the place, of these four are in the house, two are close by the rest, one, two or three miles off with a few children, half of them infants.

The farmerís name is William Hogarth a very distant relation of the Thornburgh family, perhaps, Mr.Johnsonís fourth cousin.  But be that as it will, he has no sort of claim to the premises or to the smallest abatement of rent on that or any other consideration, neither has he any lease but only takes it from year to year and removable at the Incumbentís pleasure, with perhaps the consent of Mrs.Riddell of Cheeseburn Grange, the temporal trustee for the living as being heiress and representative of the Thornburgh family in whose possession are all the deeds and writings concerning it except a few which will be delivered to you and a deed of trust.

Coals are very high here and scarcely to be got at present for love or money.  I paid yesterday 1 pound 2 shilling for a single horse cart no ways overloaded. If you keep house above all things bring a housekeeper as such articles are not to be met with here.  The rest when I have the pleasure of meeting you here or sooner if you have any further inquiries to make.  I shall be very happy to receive and accommodate you in the best manner my situation will permit.  Mr.Johnson (the old blind priest of Kendal) called this morning and I mentioned you to him as you desired, in return he wishes to be kindly remembered to you.

I am

Yours truly

Thomas Wilkinson

On August 29th 1796 two little brothers of the name of Hogarth, Robert aged twelve and William aged ten, were admitted into the new college at Crook Hall.  The father of these two boys, Mr.William Hogarth of sturdy yeoman stock was the resident farmer of Dodding Green.  He owned quite a considerable amount of land round about and undertook the farming of Dodding Green lands together with his own in return for which he and his family resided at the house.  Thus it came about that these two boys Robert and William were both born at Dodding and lived there until such time as they went to Crook Hall and from thence later on to Ushaw.  Their name is a very familiar one in the district spelled either Hogarth or Hoggarth but the special interest attached to these boys is their future later connection with their old home.  The younger one William eventually became the first Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle.

Father Robert Hogarthís life after his ordination at Ushaw was ordinary and uneventful.  Before his arrival at Dodding his life can be divided into two periods of chaplaincy first a period of thirteen years when he was chaplain to the Stapletons of Carlton Hall, Yorkshire from 1810 to 1823 and following that a period of thirty five years at Marton in Holderness near Burton Constable, Yorkshire where he was chaplain to the Beckford family.  In 1858 he returned to his native place as priest of Dodding Green being then seventy-one years of age.  Here he spent the last ten years of his life, dying on February 7th, 1868.  He was the first priest to be buried in the tiny cemetery in the grounds.  He had naturally a great love for Dodding and anything connected with it was sure to arouse his interest and sympathy.  The great work of his last years was the collection and transcribing of all the legal documents dealing with Dodding and its trusts and it is from the carefully attested collection that much of the information in this book has been drawn.  He had the greatest esteem for Robert Stephenson, which was evidently inherited, from his parents as will be seen from the following passage taken from his writings.

"Stephenson was a man highly respected and esteemed by all who were acquainted with him. I have often heard my grandfather mention his name but I was then too young to appreciate or even to take much notice of the purport of his remarks, all that I can say is that those remarks have left upon my mind the impression of an undefined veneration for him who was the subject of them.  Neither my father nor my mother could have seen him but both particularly the latter were loud in their praises of a man whose character was held In such high repute and whose alms she was in the daily habit of distributing."

The grandfather mentioned here was Edward the son of John Hogarth who became tenant of Robert Stephenson on May 13th, 1710 as testified by the following receipt.

"Received by me Robert Stephenson this 13 day of May 1710 of John Hogarth the sum of ten pounds and ten shillings in full for his admitting fine due for a messuage and tenement in Skelsmergh called Hollinroot which he purchased of William Haltwhistle of the ancient yearly rent of thirteen shillings and four pence.  I hereby admit the said John Hogarth tenant thereof according to the customs of this manor."

Robert Stephenson


Much of the Dodding Green data above, was obtained from Les Strong's fascinating and informative 'Edenlinks' webpages.  I am most grateful for his permission to use this information in these pages.

Bishop William Hogarth
The Very Reverend Robert Hogarth
The Catholic Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle
Visit Les Strong's 'Dodding Green' webpage

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