HOBART, Sir John II (1593-1647), of Blickling and Chapel Field, Norwich, Norf.
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Family and Education
b. 19 Apr. 1593,1 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir Henry Hobart* of Blickling, and Dorothy, da. of Sir Robert Bell† of Beaupré Hall, Outwell, Norf.; bro. of Nathaniel*. educ. Pembroke Coll. Camb. 1608,2 travelled abroad (Spanish Netherlands) 1609-11;3 L. Inn 1612. m. (1) June 1614 (with £4,000),4 Philippa (d. 24 Sep. 1620),5 da. of Robert Sidney†, 1st earl of Leicester, 1s. d.v.p., 3da. (2 d.v.p.);6 (2) settlement 20 Jan. 1622 (with £800 p.a.),7 Frances (d. 27 Nov. 1664), da. of John Egerton, 1st earl of Bridgwater, 5s. d.v.p. 3da. (2 d.v.p.). kntd. 10 Nov. 1611;8 suc. fa. as 2nd bt. 1625. d. 20 Apr. 1647.9
Freeman and alderman, Cambridge, Cambs. 1621;10 j.p. Mdx. 1624-9, Norf. 1625-d.;11 commr. oyer and terminer, Norf. circ. 1625-?d.;12 dep. lt. Norf. 1626-d.;13 commr. Forced Loan 1626,14 Admlty. causes 1627,15 subsidy 1628,16 worsted yarn, Norwich 1629;17 sheriff, Norf. 1632-3;18 commr. sea breaches, Norf. and Suff. 1638,19 assessment, Norf. 1641-d.,20 sequestration 1643, levying money 1643, Eastern Assoc. 1643, defence, Eastern Assoc. 1643, New Model ordinance, Norf. 1645.21
Comptroller new sjt.-at-laws’ feast, Serjeants’ Inn, 1623.22
Commr. sale of bps.’ lands 1646.23
According to his chaplain, the Presbyterian John Collinges, Hobart in his younger years was ‘not patient of academical learning’; nevertheless, he probably went up to Cambridge before attending Lincoln’s Inn, interrupting his studies with a European tour for which he was granted a licence in April 1609.24 Though devastated by the death of his first wife and all but one of their four children, he made an advantageous second marriage to Frances Egerton in 1622. A pious woman of strong puritan convictions, Frances reformed his character, broke his habit of swearing, and managed his affairs, reducing his debts by £6,000.25 Her prudence induced Hobart’s father to make him a post-nuptial settlement of £800 a year.26 Though he declined to follow his father into a legal career, Hobart fostered connections with members of the profession, and was appointed comptroller of the new serjeants-at-laws’ feast in July 1623.
At the elections for the third Jacobean Parliament, Sir Henry Hobart used his position as chancellor to Prince Charles to recommend his heir to the duchy of Cornwall borough of Beverley, Yorkshire. The corporation indicated its ‘desire to satisfy so great and noble a friend’, but warned that ‘the election consists in the voices of many’.27 Having been disappointed at Beverley, Hobart was returned for Cambridge in March 1621 at his father’s request.28 He was enrolled as a freeman of Cambridge on the day of his election, and admitted as an alderman ten days later.29 In the Commons he was appointed to one committee for a private bill, concerning Jermy’s lands in Cambridgeshire (1 May).30 Sir Henry again helped him to a place in the Parliament of 1624. As chancellor to Prince Charles, Hobart senior initially recommended his son to the duchy of Cornwall seat of West Looe, but in the event Hobart was accepted at the duchy borough of Lostwithiel after it rejected his brother Miles. Hobart was also nominated for a seat at Hertford, which the Prince’s Council hoped would be re-enfranchised, as he had been a trustee of Hertford Castle manor for Prince Charles since 1619.31 Once elected, Hobart’s only recorded activity reflected his connection with the prince: he was appointed to consider a bill for leasing duchy of Cornwall lands (9 Mar.) and ordered to attend the conference of 11 Mar., at which Charles exhorted Parliament to provide the sinews of war.32
Hobart failed to find a seat in the first Caroline Parliament, despite a recommendation from his father to the corporation of Colchester.33 At the next election his father died on the day that writs were issued, so that he was obliged to find other patrons. Three weeks earlier John Spelman* informed his father Sir Henry* that Hobart was canvassing for a Norfolk county seat, but Hobart was dissuaded from standing, presumably by the prospect of a contest. Instead he was returned for Thetford on the recommendation of the earl of Arundel. He also had himself returned for Brackley on the interest of his father-in-law, for which seat he eventually plumped.34 His only committee appointment was for Lord Morley’s bill (14 March).35 He apparently did not stand in 1628, perhaps because in September 1627 he had publicly accused his fellow deputy lieutenants of selling exemptions from the press at exorbitant rates - a charge that he later declined to substantiate.36
Hobart completed the building of Blickling Hall, one of the major Jacobean houses in England, and became active in local government as a deputy lieutenant and j.p.37 He inherited his father’s lease of the duchy of Lancaster’s bailiwick of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, though not the receivership that the latter had occupied.38 He borrowed money from his former brother-in-law, the 2nd earl of Leicester (Sir Robert Sidney*), with whom he corresponded in the late 1630s.39 Hobart supported Parliament during the Civil War, and was re-elected as a recruiter for Norfolk on 29 Dec. 1645 in place of Sir Edmund Moundeford. However, he had long been in poor health, and was granted leave on 18 Sept. 1646. He never returned to Westminster, for by this time, according to Collinges, he was in a ‘dying condition’.40 In a will dated 17 Jan. 1645 he left £300 for his funeral, £500 for a monument for himself, his two wives and his parents, and £100 to the poor of Norfolk and Norwich. He bequeathed £2,500 worth of plate, apparel and household effects to his widow, and in a codicil added a few days before his death, gave £20 to his brother Nathaniel*. His kinsman John Hobart† was appointed executor.41 Hobart died at Norwich on 20 Apr. 1647 and was buried at Blickling nine days later.42 Collinges described him as ‘one that might err through prejudice or misapprehension, but of that nobleness of temper, height of courage and spirit, that he never valued cost, nor wanted an heart to go through with anything of the goodness and justice of which he was once convinced’.43 All six of his sons having died in infancy, Hobart was succeeded by his nephew, Sir John Hobart, who entered Parliament in 1654.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi
- 1. Vis. Norf. ed. W. Bulwer, ii. 77.
- 2. Al. Cant.
- 3. SO3/4, unfol.; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, iv. 284.
- 4. HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, i. 21.
- 5. Sidney Letters ed. A. Collins, ii. 352.
- 6. Bulwer, ii. 77-8; E.A. Webb, Recs. St. Bartolomew Smithfield, ii. 273.
- 7. HEHL, EL6698; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 424.
- 8. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 151.
- 9. Bulwer, ii. 98-9.
- 10. C.H. Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, iii. 140.
- 11. C231/4, f. 173; C193/12/2, f. 40v; SP16/14/45, 16/405, f. 49.
- 12. C181/3, f. 177.
- 13. W. Rye, Norf. State Pprs. 6; CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 309.
- 14. Rye, 48.
- 15. HCA1/32/1, f. 4.
- 16. Rye, 136.
- 17. CSP Dom. 1629-31, pp. 113, 119.
- 18. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 89.
- 19. C181/5, f. 103.
- 20. SR, v. 153.
- 21. A. and O. i. 93, 115, 140, 149, 233, 242, 623; C. Holmes, Eastern Assoc. 58.
- 22. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 506.
- 23. A. and O. i. 905.
- 24. HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, iv. 284.
- 25. J. Collinges, Par. Nobile (1669), Wing C5329, pp. 10-13.
- 26. HEHL, EL6698.
- 27. Yorks. ERRO, BC/II/7/4/1, f. 17.
- 28. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I, ii. 245.