HOBART, Hon. Henry (1738-99), of Intwood, nr. Norwich, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



16 Sept. 1786 - 9 Mar. 1787
28 Mar. 1787 - 10 May 1799

Family and Education

b. 1738, 4th s. of John Hobart, 1st Earl of Buckinghamshire, by 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. of Robert Bristow of Micheldever, Hants. educ. Westminster 1747; Christ Church, Oxf. 10 July 1756, aged 17; L. Inn 1757; Geneva 1757-9 and Grand Tour. m. 22 July 1761, Anne Margaret, da. of John Bristow of Quidenham Hall, Norf., 1s. 3da.

Offices Held

Chairman of ways and means Apr. 1791-d.

Capt. 3 Norf. militia 1797, col. 1798-d.


Hobart, who headed the poll at Norwich in 1790 and 1796, was a reliable supporter of Pitt’s administration who from 1791 served as chairman of ways and means in succession to the ailing Thomas Gilbert. The month he took the chair he was listed an opponent of the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland. He frequently acted as teller for government. He figured in debate mainly in his official capacity; otherwise he virtually confined himself to the affairs of Norwich, bringing in a petition (deemed irregular) from 3,700 citizens for parliamentary reform, 6 May 1793; denying that the unemployment of 10,000 artisans there was caused by the war and claiming that it was due to the Russian embargo on manufactured goods, 8 Apr. 1794; and presenting a petition for peace which he believed had the support of the majority of his constituents’, 5 Feb. 1795. He also presented a petition from the London butter dealers for the better regulation of their trade, 10 Feb. 1796, and soon after obtained leave to bring in a bill for the payment and clothing of the militia. The Speaker privately complained, 13 July 1797, of ‘the great want of an efficient chairman of ways and means to look at the public bills’.1 On 14 Dec. 1798 he brought up the report of the income tax bill; but by February 1799 he was described as ‘broken in mind, as well as body’ and there were ‘apprehensions for his departure from this world, at no very distant period’.2

His main passion, shared with his elder brothers, was the promotion of the Italian opera in England: the new opera house of 1790 was surmounted with the Hobart family motto.3 He died 10 May 1799. A fortnight later his son Henry (afterwards prebend of Hereford) wrote to Pitt:

During my father’s illness last year I agreed to cut off the entail and suffered the estate to be charged with £11,000 to pay off election debts. The rents for five years to come ... will entirely be swallowed up by the above debts. By the death of my father I have therefore nothing now to depend on but my living in Devonshire given me by my uncle the Earl of Buckinghamshire. My father’s past services and having spent what would have been my patrimony on elections may, I hope, recommend me to your consideration.

The application was repeated on 16 June, its object being some ‘sinecure or prebend’.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Colchester, i. 116.
  • 2. Harewood mss, Canning to Rev. Leigh, 9 Feb. 1799; Norf. RO, Colman Lib. mss 632, f. 17.
  • 3. Wherry, The Bk. of Albinia, 51.
  • 4. PRO 30/8/145, f. 141; 328, f. 197.