Mr Leonard Hodgkinson was born on 20 February 1866 in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England.
He was the son of John Hodgkinson (1833-1898), a potter's presser, and Caroline Steele (1834-1914), both Stoke natives who had married on 21 February 1853. He had six known siblings: Martha (b. 1854), Rose (b. 1855), John (b. 1859), Agnes (b. 1864), Lawrence (b. 1873) and Mary (b. 1876).
He first appears on the 1871 census living at 20 North Street and on the 1881 census at 5 Knowl Street, both in Stoke. By the time of the latter census he is described as an engine fitter's apprentice and aged 15. After schooling at St. Thomas's School, Stoke, Leonard become an apprentice engine fitter with the firm of Hartley, Armour and Fanning in Stoke.
Leonard first went to sea with the Beaver Line and then Rankin, Gilmour & Co. He appears on numerous voyages across 1890 and 1891 aboard Lake Superior and Lake Ontario as 5th and 4th Engineer respectively. He achieved his First Class Engineer's Certificate and served as Chief on the Saint Jerome. By 1901, during a temporary break from seafaring, he was running his own business as a mechanical engineer and living at 40 Oakfield Road, Walton on the Hill, Liverpool. He was back at sea with the White Star Line in 1905 as Assistant Engineer in the Celtic. According to family lore Hodgkinson had aimed to serve on as many different liners of the White Star Line as possible before retirement, so was keen to transfer to Titanic prior to which he had served aboard the Olympic.
He had been married in Liverpool on 14 February 1891 to Sarah Clarke (b. 1867), a native of Birmingham, and for a while they may have lived with his sister and brother in law at 10 Helena Street, Walton on the Hill, Liverpool. The couple had three children, all born in Liverpool: Marion (1893-1979, later Mrs Arthur Pinnington), Caroline (1895-1924, later Mrs Albert Portch) and Leonard Stanley (1898-1947). The family show up on the 1901 census living at 40 Oakfield Road, Walton, Liverpool and on the 1911 census at 7 Thurnham Street, Anfield. Leonard is absent from the latter census and likely at sea.
On 2 April 1912 Hodgkinson signed-on to the Titanic in Belfast for the delivery trip to Southampton. When he signed-on again (6 April) as Senior 4th Engineer, for the maiden voyage he gave his local address as 67 Arthur Road, Shirley, Southampton although his permanent residence was Thurnham Street, Liverpool.
Hodgkinson was the most senior of five Fourth Engineers (one of whom was a specialist for the refrigeration equipment). The qualified engineers on Titanic ensured that routine adjustments and regular maintenance of the machinery were properly carried out, dealt with any unexpected problems that might arise, and responded to orders telegraphed from the bridge. They also supervised the firemen, trimmers and greasers who worked in the boiler and engine rooms.
Hodgkinson, along with all the engineers, died in the disaster and his body was never recovered.
His estate, valued at £116, 10s, 10d, was administered to his widow Sarah on 8 July 1912.
Hodgkinson is remembered on the Southampton Engineers Memorial, East Park; the Liverpool Titanic and Engineers memorial; the Glasgow Institute of Marine Engineers memorial; the Institute of Marine Engineers memorial, London and there is a brass memorial plaque in the church of St. Faithful, Crosby, Liverpool, to the memory of the Chief Engineer and his Engine Room staff.
His widow Sarah did not live long past her husband; she later moved to 34 Auburn Road, Liverpool and died on 25 February 1914. His last surviving child was his eldest daughter Marion who died in Cheshire in 1979.
The following memorial appeared in the Liverpool Echo on 15 April 1914:
HODGKINSON--In loving memory of our dear father Leonard Hodgkinson, engineer, who lost his life on the R.M.S. Titanic, April 15, 1912; also our dear mother, who died February 25, 1914. (Never forgotten by their dear children, Marion, Carrie and Stanley).