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Thomas Hodgkins

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Born: October 19, 1803, London, England
Died: November 23, 1892, Setauket, New York

Thomas Hodgkins

Brief Biography: Thomas Hodgkins was sent away to school in France at the age of twelve, and the young man opted for a life of adventure. Signing aboard a British merchant ship while still in his teens, Hodgkins was shipwrecked in the Bay of Bengal and spent several weeks in a Calcutta hospital. When he returned to England, he became employed in a confectioners’ shop. After marrying and immigrating to New York City in the 1830s, he set up a small candy store, which he built into a multi-million dollar candy manufacturing business. Having taken in his two young nieces, Annie and Emma S. Clark, when they were orphaned, the now-widowed Hodgkins moved in 1875 to Setauket onto a 100-acre farm he named Brambletye Farm. A man of great charity, Hodgkins made contributions in excess of $100,000 each to, among others, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Smithsonian Institution. Following the death of his niece, Emma S. Clark, in 1889, he donated the property, building, fixtures, and 1,500 books from his own collection to establish a public library in Setauket in her memory. Hodgkins died at the age of 89, less than two months after the library was opened. He is buried in the churchyard of the Caroline Church in Setauket, across the street from the library he established. A portrait of Thomas Hodgkins can be found hanging in the Periodical Reading Room, located in the original part of the library.