Hobson, Edward (DNB00)

HOBSON, EDWARD (1782–1830), botanist, was born in Ancoats Lane, Manchester, in 1782. When three years old he lost his father, and his mother having given way to drink he was put under the care of an uncle at Ashton-under-Lyne. His sole education was obtained at a day school there and at Manchester; but at the age of either ten or eleven he was sent to work. About 1809 he attended for the first time a meeting of the Society of Botanists, where he formed the acquaintance of George Caley, a botanical collector for the royal gardens at Kew, and then recently returned from New South Wales. Hobson studied cryptogamous as well as flowering plants, and in this department became a correspondent of Dr. (afterwards Sir William Jackson) Hooker [q. v.], Dr. Taylor, his associate in the ‘Muscologia Britannica,’ Dr. Greville of Edinburgh, and other active and prominent botanists. They all freely acknowledged their indebtedness to Hobson for specimens sent to them.

In 1818 he brought out the first volume of his ‘Musci Britannici,’ and three years later was busy on the second. At this period he was in the employ of Mr. Eveleigh, a Manchester manufacturer, who was also a naturalist and mineralogist. Entomology thenceforward became a favourite pursuit with Hobson. The Banksian Society was founded in January 1829, and Hobson was unanimously chosen its first president. Shortly afterwards the curatorship of the museum of the Manchester Society for the Promotion of Natural History was offered to him at a salary of 100l. per annum; but he declined to leave his old employer, although his wages were very small.

He died on 17 Sept. 1830 at Bowden, and was buried at St. George's Church, Hulme, where a mural tablet was placed by his old colleagues. The herbarium formed by him passed into the keeping of the Manchester Botanical and Horticultural Society at Old Trafford, and his collection of insects came into the possession of the Mechanics' Institute.

On hearing of Hobson's death Sir W. J. Hooker wrote as follows: ‘His publication of specimens of British mosses and hepaticæ will be a lasting testimony to his correctness and deep research into their beautiful families; and in this country he has been the first to set the example of giving to the world volumes which are devoted to the illustration of entire genera of cryptogamous plants by beautifully preserved specimens themselves.’ Hobson published: ‘Musci Britannici; a Collection of Specimens of British Mosses and Hepaticæ,’ 2 vols. 1818–24.

[Mem. Lit. and Phil. Soc. Manchester, 2nd ser. vi. 297–324; Gardener's Mag. vi. 749; Cash's Where there's a Will there's a Way, pp. 41–66.]

B. D. J.