Hodgson was born on 6 October 1815 in Edinburgh, and died in Brussels 24 August 1880 when attending an international teachers conference. He was educated at the High School of Edinburgh, and entered Edinburgh University at the age of fourteen. Opposed to his father's plans for him to become a lawyer, he became a freelance lecturer on literature, education and phrenology, as well as a newspaper editor for a few months. He was appointed secretary (1839), then principal (1844) to the Mechanics’ Institute of Liverpool. Here he expanded the teaching staff from 48 to over 60 and the numbers of those in attendance at Day and evening classes, as well as establishing a girls’ school in 1844. He was awarded an LLD by Glasgow University in 1846, and was principal of Chorlton High School, Manchester from 1847–51. In 1857 he gave evening lectures on physiology in Edinburgh, and in 1858 he was appointed an assistant commissioner of the Royal Commission to inquire into the state of primary education in England.
From The Biographical Dictionary of British Economists in Oxford Reference.