Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Robert Hobart (1760–1816)

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Robert Hobart (1760-1816), soldier and politician, was born on 6 May 1760, the eldest son of the third earl. He was educated at Westminster School and after 1776 served in the war against the American colonies. From 1784 he was aide-de-camp to successive lord lieutenants of Ireland and from 1789 to 1793 chief secretary. He was elected to the Irish parliament in 1787 and to the English parliament in 1788; as a politician he opposed any concession to the Irish Catholics.

In 1793 he was appointed to the Privy Council and made governor of Madras. A difference of opinion with the governor-general led to his recall in 1798. He had inherited the title of Lord Hobart from his uncle in 1793 and he now entered the House of Lords. From March 1801, when control of the colonies was being increasingly transferred from the Home Office to the War Office, to May 1804 Hobart was secretary of state for war and the colonies, displaying 'a better grasp of the local or colonial conditions, and a more active spirit than did some of his successors'. He succeeded his father to the earldom in November 1804, and thereafter held various minor ministerial posts. He died on 4 February 1816.

Australia’s second oldest city was named after him in 1804 by the first lieutenant Governor of the penal colony of Van Diemen’s land, David Collins, after Collins had moved the initial European settlement on the island from Risdon to Sullivan’s Cove.  Originally known as Hobart Town, it was proclaimed a city in 1842 and became the capital of the state of Tasmania at Federation in 1901.

Citation details

'Hobart, Robert (1760–1816)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 26 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (Melbourne University Press), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Robert Hobart (1760-1816), by William Beechey

Robert Hobart (1760-1816), by William Beechey

Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, State Library of Tasmania, AUTAS001124071002

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • fourth Earl of Buckinghamshire
  • Buckinghamshire, fourth Earl of

6 May, 1760


4 February, 1816 (aged 55)

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