Guild of One-Name Studies
One-name studies, Genealogy
Category: 3 - A study where research using core genealogical datasets and transcriptions is well under way on a global basis.
DNA website: www.familytreedna.com/groups/hobson/about
Contact: Mrs Susan Hundleby
Welcome to the Hobson one-name study.
Our aim is to construct the Hobson family trees (as far as is feasible) in all countries to help individuals extend their family trees backwards in time. If you think you can help please contact us.
We would love to hear from any male carrying the Hobson surname who is willing to take a y-DNA test via FamilyTreeDNA. These DNA results are vital to linking disparate Hobson family trees together.
We also aim to preserve the findings from any Hobson research. This includes the archiving of electronic copies of historical documents, old photographs and other papers. Please contact us if you are willing to archive your material with us.
There are 8,600 occurrences of the Hobson name (including variants) in the England & Wales 1881 census and around 7,000 in the US 1880 census. This implies there could be records for a total of around 90,000 Hobsons in the UK (15th century to current day) and around 50,000 Hobsons outside the UK. If we were to record all descendants of female Hobsons (i.e. people not carrying the Hobson name) the figure would increase tenfold. For the time being, these descendants are excluded from the study.
If you are willing to help with our research, add to our archive, or just lend your support, please let us know.
The current UK focus is to extend the Hobson family trees backwards in time from 1851 to earlier. This does not preclude research on the more recent Hobson families, but “modern” research is secondary and usually arises in response to an enquiry. The one-name study overview of the earlier records is essential to give more certainty to our research and to reduce the number of Hobson family trees further.
Due to the introduction and expansion of online records, many family historians are now able to trace their roots back to 1841/51 or, if the enquirer does not have access to online records, we can usually manage it for them. We therefore believe that working on the earlier, more disparate and incomplete Hobson records provides more benefit to the general public.
A parallel exercise is being conducted to reconcile all Hobsons (using BMD events) from one census to the next. Whilst this has always been possible for small one-name studies, we now hope it can be achieved for this much larger study, following the introduction of the GRO indexes and easier access to the mother's maiden name. It is hoped that this will identify the Hobsons who have migrated to other countries since 1841.
There are numerous Irish connections since many of the English Hobsons migrated to the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand via Ireland. Research is currently focused on Hobsons from Wicklow and Armagh counties. There was a Francis Hobson living Armagh in the early 1600s, his family expanded out across the world. Are you descended from him?
Hobsons emigrated to the US from the 17th century onwards. It is estimated that there are around 15-20 main family lines in the US (excluding ad hoc migrations).
In 1994, Jay W Hobson published "The Hobson Family Lineage - Descendants of George and Elizabeth Hobson" (A copy of Jay's book is held in the Hobson one-name study archive and can be viewed on FamilySearch.) This book covers the descendants of George Hobson (1684-1748) and his wife Elizabeth Lindley. George settled in North Carolina; he might have come from Cropton, North Yorkshire but this has not been proved yet. Jay's book consolidates research from three earlier publications but also includes significant additional input from Jay Hobson himself and other more recent Hobson researchers, all of whom are acknowledged within the preface to the book. The three earlier publications are now out of print: in 1957, the late Earl H Davis produced "Hobson 1707-1957 250th Anniversary of America"; in 1978, the late Marie Wiles produced an updated genealogy of the George Hobson line titled "Hobson Cousins", and more recently Carolyn Camilla (Hobson) Whiteside published "Hobson Family History & Genealogy 1677-1977".
Jay Hobson's book does not include research by Denver Ragland on the Hobsons of Alabama. It is highly likely that this Alabama family also descends from George and Elizabeth.
Another US family line is well documented in the "Saco Valley Settlements and Families" by G T Ridlon, also available on FamilySearch. William Hobson b 1613 was the son of Henry Hobson of Ousefleet, Yorkshire (perhaps formerly of Gildersome, Yorkshire) and Mary Wardman of "Bellesyse". William settled in Rowley, Essex, Massachusetts and married Ann Reyner, the daughter of Humphrey Reyner. The town of Hobson in Montana was named after one of William's descendants, Simeon S Hobson.
Henry Hobson (b abt 1630 Ulster Down, Ireland) settled in Henrico, Virginia. Henry might have been the father of William Hobson who married Elizabeth Woodson. This is a very large tree spreading in many directions. Admiral Richmond Pearson Hobson was a member of this family. (Virginia Tree)
John Hopson (b abt 1615) emigrated to Virginia in 1635 and was settled in New Haven, Connecticut by 1649. (Hopson Bartlett Tree)
18th century settlers included Francis Hobson (b abt 1705 Armagh, Ireland) in Pennsylvania and Morning Hopson (b abt 1754) in South Carolina. Morning Hopson might have been Cherokee, but some speculate he emigrated from Yorkshire, neither is known.
Martin Hopson b 1750 Virginia had sons Hardy, Caswell, Chapman and Zachariah. One of his descendants has a y-DNA match with a descendant of Briggs Washington Hopson b 1813 Georgia. We are trying to establish who the common ancestor was.
Canada and Australia:
We are developing Canadian and Australian Hobson family trees as migration is identified.
The aim is to enter all information into a TNG data base. We have around 160,000 names in the main Hobson database of which 70,000 (130 trees) have been entered into TNG.
The main variant of the name is Hopson. The change occurred as families moved towards the south of England probably due to dialect.
The name is commonly mis-transcribed as Robson (same origin), Holson, Kobson, Hodson, Habsen, Hebson etc.
Hobson is not related in any way to Hodson/Hodgson (ultimately derived from the diminutive of Hodge, the pet-form for Roger) nor to Hudson (derived from the diminutive of Hudd, a pet-form for Hugh and Richard) nor to Hebson (derived from the diminutive of Hebb, a short form of Hebert/Herbert).
The “Dictionary of English Surnames” by Reaney & Wilson gives some insight into the origin of the name.
Hobson (Hopson) is derived from son of Hob(b). Hob is a pet-form for Rob/Robert and this also gave rise to names such as Robson, Hobbs, Hobbes, Hobbis, Hobbison etc.
Reaney & Wilson provide some statistics, in the introduction to their book, although they stress that the analysis of names is based on “recorded documentation, much of which relates to the upper classes rather than the large, and proportionally much higher number of peasants”. Reaney & Wilson state that “In the twelfth century, the most popular names were William (10 per cent) and Robert (7 per cent), followed, with variation of order in different documents and counties, by Richard, Ralph, Roger, Hugo and Walter. John (3 per cent) was much less popular.” Over the centuries the frequency of these names has changed and by the fourteenth century “John (34 per cent) was much more popular than William (18 per cent). Then came Thomas (9 per cent), Richard and Robert (6 per cent), Henry, Roger and Geoffrey….”
According to Wikipedia, Hobson is a patronymic name which originated in Scandinavian Denmark and later emigrated to England in the Viking (793-1066) and Anglo Saxon (450-1066) Era. The Viking theory might support the predominance of the Hobson name in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire.
Other sources suggest some Hobsons derived their name from the Anglo Saxon form "Hobbeson" meaning son of a worker. A "Hobbe" worked with his hands.
Whatever the origin, there is potential for an extremely large number of family groupings within this one-name study.
Searching www.englandsimmigrants.com provides the names of three Hobsons who are known to have migrated to England towards the end of the Hundred's Year War (1337-1453): Helmer Hobson (living Middlesex) John Hobson (living Burton Pidsea, Yorkshire) and William Hobson (living Aberford, Yorkshire).
The first governor of New Zealand was a naval officer, William Hobson b 1793 Waterford Ireland, the son of Samuel Hobson, a prominent Barrister. Hobsons Bay, a tidal inlet at the north end of North Island was named after him. Founded in 1994, the City of Hobsons Bay, a local government area in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia was named after the Bay.
Thomas Hobson (1545-1631), the Cambridge Carrier, from whom Hobson's Choice (no choice at all) was derived. Thomas ran a carrier business between Cambridge and London and hired out horses. Each customer had to take the next horse in line or take no horse at all. He is remembered in verse by John Milton. A Conduit in Cambridge is named after him and the present Hobson House in Cambridge replaced a workhouse built by Thomas Hobson's charity.
Hobson's Choice was also the name of a 1954 British romantic comedy film directed by David Lean, based on the 1916 play of the same name by Harold Brighouse.
Hobson, Judith Basin County, Montana took its name from Simeon S Hobson, a prominent citizen. Simeon was born 19 April 1839 in York County, Maine, but moved to Montana when it was comparatively new.
Rear Admiral Richmond Pearson Hobson (1870-1937) was a veteran of the Spanish-American War and received a medal of honour for his part in that conflict. He went on to serve as a congressman for Alabama.
Inspired by his duty of patriotism, Hobson City, Calhoun County, Alabama, was named after Richmond Pearson Hobson. Founded in 1899, Hobson was the first all-black township to be incorporated in Alabama, the second all-black township in the US South.
The USS Hobson, a Gleaves-class destroyer minesweeper, was also named after Richmond Pearson Hobson.
Yule and Burnell's 1886 Anglo-Indian dictionary Hobson-Jobson gives definitions and origins of words in common use by the British in colonial India in the late nineteenth century.
“The British Empire, many pundits now agree, descended like a juggernaut upon the barbicans of the East, in search of loot. The moguls of the raj went in palanquins, smoking cheroots, to sup toddy or sherbet on the verandahs of the gymkhana club, while the memsahibs fretted about the thugs in bandannas and dungarees who roamed the night like pariahs, plotting ghoulish deeds.” (Rushdie, 1992:81) Italicised words all appear in the Hobson-Jobson dictionary.
Sir Ronald Frank Hobson KCVO (1921-2017) was born in Edmonton, England to a poor family. He served in the Army during WWII. In 1948 he and Donald Gosling purchased a bombed-out plot of land in Holborn with permission to convert it into a carpark. They invested £100 each. In 1958 they bought National Car Parks (NCP) and then Green Flag in 1984. They sold NCP (which had 650 car parks by that time) in 1998 for £801m. They donated £25m towards the restoration of HMS Victory and paid for Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother's birthday celebrations in 2000.
Analysis of the England & Wales 1881 census records shows a predominance of Hobsons in Yorkshire and more specifically in the Sheffield area. Research so far indicates that Hopson developed out of Hobson (probably due to dialect) as the name moved west and south out of Yorkshire.
The distribution of Hobson names in the 1881 census is as follows:
West Yorkshire 2882 (33%) (of which 534 were in Sheffield)
North & East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire 1021 (12%)
Lancashire 1103 (13%)
Cheshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire 1086 (13%)
Other 2500 (29%)
The name appears primarily in Yorkshire, England. Traditionally Hobsons were agricultural workers, stonemasons, carpenters, shoe makers etc. The largest percentage of names still occur in Sheffield and its surrounding areas. The industrial revolution brought Hobsons into Sheffield and other developing cities such as Leeds, Bradford, Manchester, Liverpool, Doncaster, York and Hull. Stone masons worked on building infrastructure, others took jobs in mining and steel making (there is a large preponderance of cutlers), wool manufacturing and other such industries. Others took advantage of the growth in ship building and moved north to Durham and Teesside. Some Hobsons moved further afield to become potters in the Stoke on Trent/Burslem area and a few moved on to Birmingham. As with all families some Hobsons went to London and the South of England. However, the main Hobson occupations (19th century) were related to mining and the steel industry.
There was a large growth of Hobsons in Cambridgeshire from the 16th century onwards (thought to have originated from Yorkshire) and some migrated into Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire. This family produced the Cambridge carrier from whom “Hobson’s Choice” was developed.
Hobsons departed for the US and Canada from the 17th century onwards. We have not yet been able to prove many of these origins, but they appear to have originated from Yorkshire often via Ireland. In the 19th century, Hobsons went to New Zealand and Australia. The first governor of New Zealand was William Hobson.
The top US regions where the Hobson name appears are: California, North Carolina, Texas, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Virginia, Tennessee, Florida and Mississippi.
The top Canadian regions are: Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.
We are trying to gather Hobson DNA connections on FamilyTreeDNA.
If you are a male Hobson who is still carrying the Hobson surname, please take a Y-DNA test via FamilyTreeDNA. You need to have a direct male Hobson line because the Y-DNA only passes from father to son. These people are very few and far between so if you are in a position to do the test we would be delighted. With this data we can start to verify connections between Hobson family lines back in the 16th and 17th centuries or earlier. Please join the Hobson Group when taking the test.
If you are a Hobson descendant (male or female) and have taken an autosomal DNA test on either Ancestry, 23andMe or MyHeritage you can transfer your results free or charge into FamilyTreeDNA. Go to the website www.familytreedna.com and click on "Upload DNA Data" in the top banner and follow the system. You can also take an autosomal DNA test direct on FamilyTreeDNA. However, this data only helps make connections within a family line back five sometimes six generations. The Y-DNA test helps us go back much further in time.
Once your results are loaded into FamilyTreeDNA, please join the Hobson group. Here is a link to the Hobson group for your information https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/hobson
You may find our other Guild websites of interest: