John Hobhouse, 1st Baron Broughton

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The Lord Broughton
John Cam Hobhouse.jpg
Lord Broughton, from a miniature by Sir William Newton, R. A.
President of the Board of Control
In office
23 April 1835 – 30 August 1841
MonarchsWilliam IV
Queen Victoria
Prime MinisterThe Viscount Melbourne
Preceded byThe Lord Ellenborough
Succeeded byThe Lord Ellenborough
In office
8 July 1846 – 5 February 1852
MonarchQueen Victoria
Prime MinisterLord John Russell
Preceded byThe Earl of Ripon
Succeeded byFox Maule
Personal details
Born(1786-06-27)27 June 1786
Redland, near Bristol, England
Died3 June 1869(1869-06-03) (aged 82)
Berkeley Square, London, England
Political partyWhig
SpouseLady Julia Hay (d. 1835)
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge
The tomb of John Cam Hobhouse, Kensal Green Cemetery, London

John Cam Hobhouse, 1st Baron Broughton, GCB, PC, FRS (27 June 1786 – 3 June 1869), known as Sir John Hobhouse, Bt, from 1831 to 1851, was an English politician and diarist.

Early life[edit]

Born at Redland near Bristol, Broughton was the eldest son of Sir Benjamin Hobhouse, 1st Baronet, and Charlotte, daughter of Samuel Cam. He was educated at Westminster School, and at Trinity College, Cambridge where he graduated in 1808.[1][2] Broughton took the Hulsean prize in 1808 for his Essay on the Origin and Intention of Sacrifices. At Cambridge he founded the "Whig Club," and the "Amicable Society".[1]

Friendship with Lord Byron and mainland European journeys[edit]

While at Cambridge Broughton became good friends with Lord Byron, who accompanied him on a tour in Spain, Greece and Turkey in 1809. Hobhouse was present at the Battle of Dresden in August 1813, and, following the Coalition armies into France, he saw Louis XVIII enter Paris in May 1814.[1]

In 1815 Broughton was again in Paris after the return of Napoleon Bonaparte from Elba (see Hundred Days), and showed his dislike of the Bourbons and his sympathy with Bonaparte by writing in 1816 a pamphlet entitled The substance of some letters written by an Englishman resident in Paris during the last reign of the emperor Napoleon. This caused some offence in England and more in France, and the French translation was seized by the government and both translator and printer were imprisoned.[3]

A further period of travel with Byron followed, and at this time Hobhouse wrote some notes to the fourth canto of Childe Harold. This canto was afterwards dedicated to him, and a revised edition of a part of his notes entitled Historical illustrations of the fourth canto of "Childe Harold" containing dissertations on the ruins of Rome and an essay on Italian literature, was published in 1818.[4] He shared Byron's enthusiasm for the liberation of Greece; after the poet's death in 1824 he proved his will, and superintended the arrangements for his funeral.[4]


In February 1819 Hobhouse was the Radical candidate at a by-election for the representation of the City of Westminster, but he failed to secure election. He had already gained some popularity by writing in favour of reform,[4] and in 1819 spoke the following words: "I am a man chosen for the people, by the people; and, if elected, I will do no other business than that of the people".[5] In the same year (1819) he issued A defence of the People in reply to Lord Erskine's "Two Defences of the Whigs," followed by A trifling mistake in Thomas, Lord Erskine's recent preface. The House of Commons declared this latter pamphlet a breach of privilege; its author was arrested on 14 December 1819, and in spite of an appeal to the court of king's bench he remained in imprisoned in Newgate until the end of the following February. However this proceeding only increased his popularity, and at the general election of 1820 he was returned for Westminster.[4]

In parliament Hobhouse proved a valuable recruit to the Reform party,[4] and is credited with the invention of the phrase His Majesty's (Loyal) Opposition made in 1826 during a speech in the House of Commons.[6]

Having succeeded his father as 2nd baronet in 1831, Hobhouse was appointed secretary at war in the Whig administration of Lord Grey in February 1832, and was made a Privy Councillor.[4][7] He effected some reforms and economies during his tenure of this office (He was responsible for the passing of the Vestry Act 1831), but, unable to carry out all his wishes.[4]

Hobhouse became Chief Secretary for Ireland in March 1833. He had only held this post for a few weeks when, in consequence of his refusal to vote with the government against the abolition of the Doors and Windows Tax, he resigned both his office and his seat in parliament. At the subsequent election he was defeated.[4]

Hobhouse joined the cabinet as First Commissioner of Woods and Forests when Lord Melbourne became Prime Minister in July 1834, and about the same time Hobhouse was returned at a by-election as one of the members for Nottingham. In Melbourne's government of 1835 he was President of the Board of Control, in which position he strongly supported the Indian policy of Lord Auckland. He returned to the same office in July 1846 as a member of Lord John Russell's cabinet.[4]

In February 1851 Hobhouse went to the House of Lords as Baron Broughton, of Broughton-de-Gyfford in the County of Wiltshire.[4][8] He left office when Russell resigned in February 1852.[4]

Later life[edit]

In 1852 Hobhouse was also made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB),[9] and took little part in political life, being mainly occupied in literary pursuits and in correspondence. Lord Broughton was a partner in Whitbread's brewery, a fellow of the Royal Society, and one of the founders of the Royal Geographical Society.[4] In the opinion of the author of his biography in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911) he was a good classical scholar, and although not eloquent, an able debater.[4]


Lord Broughton married Lady Julia, daughter of George Hay, 7th Marquess of Tweeddale, in 1828. They had three daughters.[4] Lady Julia died of tuberculosis in April 1835.[citation needed]

Hobhouse died in London on 3 June 1869, and being without heir male the barony lapsed on his death, the baronetcy passing to his nephew, Charles Parry Hobhouse.[4]


  • Hobhouse took the Hulsean prize in 1808 for his essay on the Origin and Intention of Sacrifices.[1]

Hobhouse edited and published:

  • The Substance of Some letters written from Paris during the last reign of the Emperor Napoleon, vol. 1, Philadelphia: M. Thomas, 1816
  • The substance of some letters written from Paris during the last reign of the Emperor Napoleon, vol. 2 (Two volumes ed.), London: Redgeways, 1817

Hobhouse wrote and published:

  • Journey through Albania, 1813 [4]
  • Historical Illustrations of the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold, 1818 [4]
  • Italy: Remarks Made in Several Visits, from the Year 1816 to 1854, Murray, reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2009 [1859], ISBN 978-1-108-00398-8
  • A defence of the People in reply to Lord Erskine's "Two Defences of the Whigs," followed by A trifling mistake in Thomas, Lord Erskine's recent preface, 1819 [4]
  • Recollections of a Long Life, 1865 [4]
  • The Prelude to Lord Byron's Epitah to a Dog, 1808

For private circulation, and he left (in manuscript) Diaries, Correspondence, and Memoranda, etc., not to be opened till 1900, extracts from which were published by his daughter, Lady Dorchester, also under the title of Recollections from a Long Life, 1909.[4]

A collection of Hobhouse's diaries, correspondence and memoranda is in the British Museum.[4]

Depiction in popular culture[edit]

Hobhouse was played by the character actor Raymond Lovell in the 1949 period drama The Bad Lord Byron.


  1. ^ a b c d Chisholm 1911, p. 655.
  2. ^ ACAD & HBHS803JC.
  3. ^ Chisholm 1911, pp. 655–656.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Chisholm 1911, p. 656.
  5. ^ Broughton & Burdett 1819, p. 105.
  6. ^ Kleinig 2014, pp. 113–114.
  7. ^ "No. 18901", The London Gazette, 7 February 1832, p. 259
  8. ^ "No. 21185", The London Gazette, 25 February 1851, p. 487
  9. ^ "No. 21294", The London Gazette, 24 February 1852, p. 525



External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Westminster
With: Sir Francis Burdett, Bt
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Nottingham
With: Ronald Craufurd Ferguson to 1841
John Walter 1841
George Larpent 1841–1842
John Walter 1842–1843
Thomas Gisborne the Younger 1843–1847
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Harwich
With: John Bagshaw
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Secretary at War
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chief Secretary for Ireland
Succeeded by
Preceded by First Commissioner of Woods and Forests
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the Board of Control
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the Board of Control
Succeeded by
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Broughton
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Baronet
(of Westbury)
Succeeded by
Charles Hobhouse