Officially, rights to bear a coat of arms are granted in law by the ancient College of Arms in London in England. Historically, a few Hodgson families adopted the coat of arms pictured above. Its technical description is ‘per chevron, embattled or and azure, three martlets counterchanged’.
According to one authority (J. Hodgson 1925), the above coat of arms was displayed by a Hodgson family at the Battle of Towton in Yorkshire in 1461, during the Wars of the Roses. This was the largest battle ever fought on British soil. The first documented family carrying this coat of arms is the Hodgsons of Hebburn in County Durham, in the sixteenth century (Surtees 1820).
This coat of arms is also associated with several other Hodgson families, including the Hodgsons of West Keal in Lincolnshire, the Hodgsons of Bascodyke in Cumberland, the Hodshons of Amsterdam, and Thomas Hodgson the eighteenth-century mill-owner of Caton in Lancashire.
Hodgsons do not automatically have the right to display this coat of arms. To quote from the College of Arms website:
There is no such thing as a 'coat of arms for a surname'. Many people of the same surname will often be entitled to completely different coats of arms, and many of that surname will be entitled to no coat of arms. Coats of arms belong to individuals. For any person to have a right to a coat of arms they must either have had it granted to them or be descended in the legitimate male line from a person to whom arms were granted or confirmed in the past.
Commercial companies selling wall plaques and fancy pictures of family origins typically ignore these facts. They lure the buyer into believing that coats of arms apply automatically to surnames.
But today we live in a more democratic age. There is no other logo or symbol relating to all Hodgsons, and many have adopted the coat of arms above. For this reason it is respectfully and judiciously displayed on this website, and adopted as the logo or symbol -- rather than an official coat of arms -- of the world-wide Hodgson Clan.
Beware of Poorly-Researched Surname Plaques or Posters that are Available for Sale
Buyers should also beware of accounts of surname 'origins' displayed on commercially advertised wall plaques and posters that show no evidence of appropriate research. For example, a Hodgson surname poster published by ‘Hall of Names Limited’, claims that the surname is Anglo-Saxon and originates from the county of Northumberland. However, Hall of Names Limited has failed to respond to three written requests to supply evidence supporting their claims. The website www.houseofnames.com also declares that the surname comes from Northumberland. These claims may simply result from the fact that the first recorded Hodgson was in Newcastle-upon-Tyne (see Early Hodgsons) in the thirteenth century.
But one name does not authenticate general surname origins. It would be absurd to suggest that the many Hodgsons (or variants) appearing in Lancashire, Yorkshire or elsewhere in the fourteenth century and after were all descended from one Newcastle family. James (1925) conjectures that this ancient Newcastle Hodgson family previously migrated from Cumberland. All the evidence we have on Hodgson surname distribution suggests that most Hodgsons originate from Cumberland.