Remember Mary Ann? She and her husband George William Hodge ran the above tavern for just over two decades in Ramsgate, Kent, England from 1850 when it opened to 1871, the year George died.
The previous Shipwrights Arms in Ramsgate had been run by the Harlow family. It seems to have closed its doors in 1849. The brewer, and owner of most of these pubs, would have been responsible for the transition to the new location, which was across from the Customs House on Harbour Place. The street was widened in the 1890s, and renamed Harbour Parade. The buildings in the photo were all torn down and replaced. The new Shipwrights Arms kept its street address but was shifted over to the corner make room for the new Customs House. The Queens Head, which you can see in the picture, kept its location and its address, but the building was also replaced. The new Customs House was in between the two taverns.
This was George’s second career. He was the son of pianoforte maker named William Hodge. William was originally from Knowstone, Devon, and had come to London sometime before 1814 to work as a carpenter. He married Sarah Walker in 1815 and they had four children, one of whom died in infancy. It seems William worked for over 40 years on pianofortes … he died in 1862. His daughter Sarah married James Moutrie, another pianoforte maker, and his sons William and George both learned the trade at an early age. The whole family was involved in the developing pianoforte industry in St. Pancras, London, England.
George worked in the piano trade in St. Pancras up until a few years after his marriage to Mary Ann. He was almost 30 when he switched gears to publican. They had ten children together. The first three were born in London, but the rest were all born in Ramsgate. Lots of children, meant lots of help with the work, but only once they were old enough to be useful. It sounds like a busy twenty years. The youngest, Fred, was seven when George died.
After George’s death, Mary Ann left Ramsgate and started a lodging house in nearby St. Peter’s. She does that for a decade or so, and then, with three of her then adult children, she embarks on the Lusitania for Tasmania (1884).
I so admire this woman. She was 60, and was going to immigrate to Tasmania? Fred, her youngest and a bachelor, and her two youngest daughters, Emma and Florence, and their husbands and children, all went together. A total of twenty family members are shown on the passenger list: six adults and fourteen children. One of Emma and Tom’s babies didn’t make it and was buried at sea.
Mary Ann returned to England at some point. We can’t find her return trip home. It looks like she waited until her kids were settled before she left, but we can’t be sure. We know she was “home” by the time she was 75. She spent the last chapter of her life living with her eldest daughter, Sarah Mary Ann, in Margate, Kent, up until her death in 1912 at 89 years of age.
A full life by anyone’s standards.
I descend from Mary Ann and George’s second youngest child: Charles Samuel Hodge. He died before I was born, but Eliza, his wife and my great grandmother didn’t. I was blessed with hearing stories about Mary Ann when I was a child. Eliza had worked for her, as her “lady’s maid” we were told. That’s how she had met Charles! Eliza lived a very long life. She died two weeks before her 107th birthday in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. But that’s another story!