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he subject of this sketch is a native of Dublin, Ireland, where he was born on the 6th of October, 1828, being the fourth son of the late William Hodgins, Esq., of that city, and formerly of the County Wicklow. His mother’s maiden name was Frances Doyle, daughter of the late James Doyle, Esq., Newcastle, County Wicklow, Ireland.
Mr. Hodgins was educated in his native city, and at Bristol, England; and in 1848 immigrated to Canada, coming to Toronto, where he entered the public service as a clerk in the Educational Department, In 1852, he matriculated in the University of Toronto, where he gained the University Scholarship in Civil Polity and History; he also obtained first-class honors with the degree of B. A., 1856, receiving also the degrees of LL.B., in 1858, and M.A., in 1859. Having decided to adopt the legal profession, he entered the Law Society and was called to the Bar of Upper Canada, Hilary Term, 1858. He has since practiced in the Common Law and Equity Courts, and is frequently engaged as Counsel in Parliamentary Election cases. In 1878 he was associated with Attorney-General Mowat as Counsel for the Province of Ontario in arguing the question of the Northern and Western boundaries of the Province of Ontario before the arbitrators appointed by the Dominion and Provincial Governments, via: Sir Edward Thornton, Sir Francis
Hincks, and Chief Justice Harrison. The award of the arbitrators gave to Ontario 62,000,000 acres of land in addition to the 64,000,000 acres formerly owned by her, and extended her northerly limits to the shores of Hudson’s Bay.
In February, 1873, Mr. Hodgins was created a Queen’s Counsel by the Dominion Government on the recommendation of Sir John A. Macdonald, then Minister of Justice. In Easter Term, 1874, he was elected a Bencher of the Law Society of Tipper Canada, and again in Easter Term, 1876. In Michaelmas Term, 1875, he succeeded Mr. (now Chief Justice) Moss, as Chairman of the Legal Education Committee of the Law Society. Prior to this he had acted as Senior Law Examiner in the Faculty of Law, of the University of Toronto, for some years, until elected by the Benchers as the Representative of the Law Society in the Senate of the University, as successor to the late Hon. J. H. Cameron, Q.C., M.P. In 1863 he edited, in connection with the late Chief Justice Harrison, a volume of Municipal Law Reports, and since then has published Law Manuals on Education, Parliamentary Elections, Voters’ Lists, and other works. Mr. Hodgins was also for some years a contributor and equity reporter to the Upper Canada Law Journal, and is still an occasional writer for the Periodical Press on Parliamentary and legal questions, chiefly under a nom de plume. He was one of the originators of the Toronto University Association, and of the present University College Literary and Scientific Society (founded in 1854), of which he afterwards became President.
Politically Mr. Hodgins is a Liberal, and was returned to the Provincial Parliament at the general elections held in March, 1871, as member for West Elgin. He resigned his seat in the Ontario Legislature in September, 1878, to contest West Toronto for the House of Commons, on which occasion one of the leading journals thus referred to the public services of Mr. Hodgins.
“Having a decided taste for Parliamentary life, he has devoted much time to all legal points connected with elections, as well as to constitutional questions, and is well qualified to deal with these matters as a member of the House of Commons. Mr. Hodgins was in 1874 appointed a Bencher of the Law Society, and has been an influential member, paying much attention to the subject of legal education, and after the death of the late Mr Hillyard Cameron, was appointed by the Bar their representative on the Senate of the University of Toronto. In 187] he was chosen by the electors of West Elgin to represent them in the Parliament of Ontario, and was re-elected in 1875. Mr. Hodgins has taken an active part in legislation, and is a dignified and persuasive speaker. He is one of the most industrous and persevering of men, and has an important career before him in the House of Commons if he is elected for West Toronto. His personal character is without reproach, his public reputation is without a flaw, and he is one of the few men who are alike willing and able to undertake work for the public in a self sacrificing spirit. The electors of West Toronto who desire an honest, straightforward, and useful representative, should give their votes with unanimity for Mr. Thomas Hodgins, convinced, as we are, that his conduct will never cause them to regret the act.”
Another journal thus referred to him:
“West Toronto would do itself very great honour by electing Mr. Hodgins. This gentleman is a man of exceptional ability, and would have been before this time a Minister of the Crown had it not been felt that Toronto had already its full quota among members of the Cabinet. His abilities are of that substantial character that would give him a leading position not only in the committee rooms, but also on the floor of the House of Commons. His return should be made a matter of pride and the object of the personal exertion of every elector in the Riding.
He was defeated at that election. His parliamentary measures include amendments to the law of Property and. Trusts, Chases in Action, Fusion of the Courts of Law and Equity, Finality of the Voters’ Lists in Parliamentary Elections, Shorthand Reporting in the Courts, etc.
On the 22nd November, 1858, he was married to Maria Burgoyne, daughter of the late John Scoble, Esq., who represented West Elgin in the Canadian Parliament from 1863, until Confederation.