HOBART (HUBBARD), Sir John I (c.1567-1613), of St. Mary Spital, London and Clerkenwell, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1567, 4th s. of James Hobart (d.1615) of Hales Hall, Loddon, Norf. and Frances, da. of Sir William Drury† of Hawstead, Suff.1 educ. Trin. Hall, Camb. 1584.2 m. 11 Sept. 1604, Barbara (d.1650), da. of Walter Blount of Tyttenhanger, Herts., wid. of Alan Horde of Ewell, Surr., 2s.3 kntd. 23 July 1603.4 bur. 7 July 1613.5

Offices Held

Surveyor to 4th mq. of Winchester 1599.6


Sir James Hobart, the first member of this family to achieve prominence, sat for Ipswich in three Yorkist Parliaments and became attorney-general and privy councillor to Henry VII. However, Hobart himself belonged to a line which was excluded from office under Elizabeth for adherence to Rome; both his parents, his eldest brother, and three of his sisters were recusants.7 As a scholar of Trinity Hall, Hobart became a friend of Robert Kydman†, ‘a noted Papist’, and he owed his career as surveyor and man of business to the family connections of Sir Thomas Cornwallis†, probably the most influential Catholic in East Anglia. Nevertheless, Hobart himself was a Protestant, although as late as 1603 Cornwallis hoped that he might yet be converted to Rome.8

Hobart took up residence in London, living for some time with Cornwallis’ son Sir William†, who was endeavouring to build a career at Court through his connection with Thomas Cecil†, 2nd Lord Burghley. Hobart’s link with the latter family was reinforced when his cousin Elizabeth Drury married Burghley’s son William†. Burghley’s daughter Lucy secured his appointment as surveyor and secretary to her husband, the marquess of Winchester, while her sister Elizabeth, the widow of Sir William Hatton†, frequently consulted him over matters both trivial and important.9 Hobart changed his London address frequently, living for some time in lodgings in Fetter Lane, but by 1601 he had taken up residence at St. Mary Spital as tenant to his recusant kinsman Robert Hare†. The address was much favoured by Catholics because it stood in the liberty of Norton Folgate, outside the jurisdiction of the City. Later he seems to have taken over a house in Clerkenwell from Cornwallis’ recusant daughter, Lady Kytson. He was knighted early in the new reign, and commissioned a few months later to offer Burghley an earldom.10

Hobart was returned for Corfe Castle in 1604 at the request of Lady Hatton’s second husband, Sir Edward Coke*.11 He was a fairly prominent figure in the first Jacobean Parliament, making five recorded speeches and attracting 39 committee nominations. During the 1604 session he was sent, on 27 Mar., with a message to the king about the Buckinghamshire election dispute. The bills which he was appointed to consider included those promoted by two Norfolk Catholic families, the Jernegans and Lovells, and another by his patroness’ heir, Sir Christopher Hatton* (7 and 29 June; 2 July).12 A ‘disputant’ in the debate on religion on 5 May, he also supported an amendment to the bill for continuance or repeal of expiring statutes, which would have relieved men married to Catholics from responsibility for paying their wives’ recusancy fines (15 June).13

Hobart may have had an ulterior motive for that final intervention, for during the recess he concluded a marriage settlement with a wealthy widow, who brought him five Catholic stepchildren, and was herself formally identified as a recusant in 1609. He was clearly comfortably off by this time, since he undertook to assign lands worth at least £300 p.a. as her jointure.14 Presumably buoyed by his own union, he acted as matchmaker between the 21st earl of Arundel and a daughter of the 7th earl of Shrewsbury (Gilbert Talbot†) in 1605. He also became London agent for Sir Charles Cornwallis* during the latter’s Spanish embassy of 1605-9, though he incurred significant financial losses in the process.15

In the 1605-6 parliamentary session Hobart was nominated to scrutinize the revived Hatton estate bill (1 Feb.), and a measure to enable a Suffolk kinsman, Sir Thomas Rous, to sell land (4 April). He commented on 1 Apr. on the bill to restrict new London buildings, and on 26 May on the beer export bill, but his gist was not recorded on either occasion.16 Appointed to attend conferences with the Lords on the recusancy laws and ecclesiastical grievances, he was also named to consider a bill to improve the maintenance of preachers in Norwich (3 and 13 Feb.; 10 April).17

Hobart’s personal standing was doubtless enhanced when Sir Henry Hobart*, with whom he had strong ties ‘both in friendship and kindred’, became attorney-general in 1606. Following his promotion Sir Henry was summoned to the Lords, prompting a lengthy debate in the Commons on 22 Nov. 1606 on what to do about the vacancy that this created in the Commons (22 November). It is not known whether Hobart contributed, nor whether he defended Sir Charles Cornwallis’ right to retain his own seat while serving in Spain, but on 5 May 1607 he successfully moved for Sir Oliver Cromwell* to be granted privilege over a lawsuit. Appointed to consider the articles for Union with Scotland (29 Nov. 1606), he was also named to help inquire into the injustices suffered by English merchants trading in Spain (28 Feb. 1607).18

Hobart is not known to have spoken during the first session of 1610, maintaining a low profile during the Commons’ debates on John Cowell’s controversial Interpreter, even though the author was one of his family’s trustees. He was appointed on 15 Feb. to attend the conference with the Lords at which the government presented its case for supply, but apparently took no part in the subsequent debates on the Great Contract. However, he was named to committees for three East Anglian estate bills, including one promoted by Sir Francis Hubbard of Essex (21-2 Feb.; 27 March).19

‘A sick man, whose integrity is much relied on’, Hobart died in 1613 after a long illness aged 46, and was buried in St. Botolph Bishopsgate on 7 July. He was recorded in the parish register as ‘a merciful man to the poor’, to whom he bequeathed £10. In his will he also provided for his son John was to be educated under the guidance of William Cecil and of his cousin Sir Henry Hobart. John was to be ‘brought up in the fear of God and good learning, especially in the common laws of the land, to the which I hope in God he will be apt, and thereby be the better enabled to serve the Church, his prince and country, and to increase the poor fortunes that I shall leave him’. In the event he became a staunch republican, representing Norwich under the Protectorate.20

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Bodl. Tanner 98, f. 78; Vis. Norf. ed. W. Bulwer, ii. 63.
  • 2. Al. Cant.
  • 3. Vis. Norf. ii. 63.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 124.
  • 5. Vis. Norf. ii. 63.
  • 6. Bodl. Tanner 283, f. 15.
  • 7. Oxford DNB, xxvii. 374-5; Blomefield, Norf. vii. 243; A. Hassell Smith, County and Court, 52; HMC Hatfield, ii. 194.
  • 8. Bodl. Tanner 115, f. 174; Biog. Hist. of Gonville and Caius Coll. comp. J. Venn, i. 89; Hassell Smith, 214; Ct. of Jas. I ed. G. Goodman, ii. 92-3.
  • 9. Bodl. Tanner 115, ff. 3, 190; 283, ff. 13, 95; 286, f. 5.
  • 10. Bodl. Tanner 115, f. 14; 283, f. 66v; Spitalfields and Mile End New Town (Survey of London, xxvii), 50; Collins, Peerage ed. E. Brydges, ii. 600.
  • 11. Not. Parl. ii. 498.
  • 12. CD 1604-7, p. 30; CJ, i. 233b, 249a, 251a.
  • 13. CJ, i. 199b, 992b.
  • 14. Bodl. Tanner 97, f. 128; Mdx. County Recs. ed. J.C. Jeaffreson, ii. 213.
  • 15. Cal. Talbot Pprs. (Derbys. Rec. ser. iv), 239; Bodl. Tanner 97, ff. 15-18; 98, ff. 103, 128.
  • 16. CJ, i. 262b, 293b, 292a, 312b.
  • 17. Ibid. 263a, 267b,
  • 18. Bodl. Tanner 75, f. 234; CJ, i. 324a, 326b, 344b, 1040b.
  • 19. CJ, i. 393b, 398a-b, 415b; Bodl. Tanner 97, f. 128v.
  • 20. Bodl. Tanner 98, f. 78; 115, f. 90; 283, f. 96; Reg. St. Botolph Bishopsgate ed. A.W.C. Hallen, i. 375; PROB 11/122, f. 46.