Isabella Oliver was born about 1822, probably in Edinburgh in Scotland, the second child and daughter of Isobel Easton and Peter Oliver. Isabella's birth or baptism registration has not been found to date. Isabella was just 5 when her father was tried for sheep stealing and ultimately sentenced to transportation. Along with her mother Isobel, Isabella, aged 8, joined him in Van Diemen's Land in September 1830.1
Isabella married Edwin Hobson on 5 November 1844 in the Oatlands district in Tasmania.2 Edwin had arrived in Van Diemen's Land as a convict on the Lord Lyndoch. He had been tried at the Old Bailey in Middlesex on 4 September 1834.
1392. EDWIN HOBSON was indicted for stealing, on the 4th of August , at St. Leonard, Shoreditch , 6 sovereigns; 9 half-crowns; 1 shilling; and 1 box, value 1d.; the goods and monies of William Bennett , in his dwelling-house.
JANE BENNETT . I am the wife of William Bennett, and live in the parish of St. Leonard, Shoreditch - we let lodgings - the prisoner came to me on Thursday, the 30th of July, from the fever hospital, and asked me to accommodate him for a week, till he could write home to his mother for money to take him home - I consented, and on the 4th of August, at half past nine o'clock in the morning, I put the money, named in the indictment, into a box, in a handkerchief - the prisoner was not there then - he had been ill all night, and I had been up with him - I went out of the room into the one pair of stairs room, and received the remainder of my money to make up my rent - I was not more than five minutes out of his room - when I returned, I missed him - I opened my drawers to take the money out, and missed it - it was in the second floor room - I ran down stairs and made inquiry for him; he was not there - I afterwards saw part of the box in which the money was deposited - nobody but him could have taken it, they had no time - I lost 7l. 3s. 6d.
Cross-examined by MR. DOANE. Q. Was he in the room when you put the money into the box? A. No; I have four or five other lodgers - none of them were present when I put the money there.
WILLIAM STOTTER . I am a policeman. I received information of this, and went in search of the prisoner - on Monday, the 4th of August, about half-past seven o'clock in the evening, I found him in the Red Rover, Manchester coach, at the Angel, where he had booked his place for Birmingham - I took him out of the coach, and told him it was a bad job - he said it was, if they could prove it against him - at the watch-house I found 4l. 19s. 4 1/2d., and part of the box on him - I found a purse with the silver and halfpence on him - the four sovereigns were in the box.
Cross-examined. Q. Did he account for the possession of the money? A. He said he met a butcher that day, who paid him 6l. for some razor strops he had made for him some years ago - I asked where the butcher was - he said he went to sea directly he paid him the money - I have inquired, and find he was in the habit of making razor strops for different houses
ELLIS DRING . I am book-keeper at the Bell Sauvage. On Monday evening, the 4th of August, about half-past four o'clock, the prisoner came into the office, and asked if we had an outside place to Sheffield - I said, No; there was an inside place - he said he could not afford that - he came again at six o'clock, and took an outside place on the Birmingham coach - he paid me a sovereign, and about a quarter to seven he came, and asked if he could have an inside place, as he was very unwell - he gave me a half-sovereign and half-a-crown, and went inside.
JANE BENNETT re-examined. I swear this is part of the box the money was in - here is the top of it - he left that behind.
Prisoner's Defence. The sovereigns were in the purse when the officer found it - he put the sovereigns into the box and the silver into the purse.
GUILTY . Aged 18. - Transported for Life.3
The Lord Lyndoch sailed from London on 24 April 1836 and arrived in Van Diemen's Land on 20 August 1836. John Baker was the ship's master and James Lawrence the ship's surgeon. Edwin was one of 330 convicts on the ship, five of whom died during the journey.4 Upon arrival Edwin's convict description record was drafted which described him as follows:
- Native Place. Sheffield
- Trade. Labourer, & Morocco (Leather Maker).
- Height (without shoes). 5/8.
- Age. 22.
- Complexion. Fresh.
- Head. Round.
- Hair. D[ar]k Brown
- Whiskers. ______
- Visage. Full. Round.
- Forehead. High.
- Eyebrows. D[ar]k Brown
- Eyes. L[igh]t Grey
- Nose. M[edium] L[arge]
- Mouth. M[edium] W[ide]
- Chin. Large.
- Remarks. None5
Edwin's convict conduct record recorded his crime and tracked his activities for the next ten years.
Lord Lyndoch 2 20th Augst 1836
Middlesex G. D. 4th Sepr 1834 Life
Transported for stealing above £5 in a Dwell[ing] House. Gaol Report Not Known, Hulk Report Orderly. Single. Stated this offence, stealing £7-3-6 from Mrs. Bonnel's (sic) House, Moorfields, Single. Surgeon's Report, exceedingly well behaved. March 5 1838. Lawrence / Absconding. 6 months hard labour. / M.C.L. J. Henty / Spring Hill afterwards. St Peter's Pass also & on no account to be assigned out of the Oatlands district. Vide Lieut. Gov[erno]r's decision 24 March 1838. Dec 28 1839. Fow / Disorderly conduct. Adm[onished] / Geo & F.G.T. / Dec 26 1839. Fow / Disturbing the Public Peace in the streets of Oat[land]s. 48 hours Sol[itar]y Conf[inemen]t on B[read] & W[ater] / XXXX 6.9.44. Recom[mende]d for a Cond[itiona]l Pardon. 15.12.45. Approved 31 Oct. 1846.6
Convict Conduct Record of Edwin Hobson
Archives Office of Tasmania
The indecipherable reference on 6 September 1844 was probably when Edwin Hobson of the Lord Lyndoch sought permission to marry Isabella Oliver, free.7 As previously stated they married on 5 November 1844 in Oatlands, Tasmania. Edwin's age was stated as 28 and his occupation as carpenter. Isabella's age was stated as 23. James Pennyquick and Agnes Woods were the witnesses.8 Their only son Benjamin Hobson was born the following year on 10 May 1845 in the Oatlands district, Tasmania.9
At some point in the mid to late 1840s Isabella, Edwin and Benjamin moved to Port Albert in Victoria. Their outward passage has not been found but there is an inward passage of a Mr and Mrs Hobson, along with one child, arriving in Van Diemen's Land aboard the ship Alert from Port Albert on 2 April 1847.10 A Mr. Hobson makes the return journey the next day:
April 2 -Arrived the schooner Alert, Taylor, master, from Port Albert 20th March, with cattle and sheep. Passengers-Mr. & Mrs. Hobson and child, Mrs Taylor and child, and John M'Donald,
April 3 -Sailed the schooner Alert, Taylor master, for Port Albert, with a general cargo. Passengers-James Davies, Fsq , Mr. William Donaldson,-Mr. Hobson, Mr.-Evans, wife, and child.11
The migration was no doubt an attempt by Edwin to throw off his convict past and gain some sense of respectability which it appears succeeded. In May 1856 Edwin Hobson is reported as an Innkeeper at Woranga where he held freehold title.12 Edwin is also reported on many occasions throughout the 1850s as a member of the Alberton Road Trust, an early precursor to what we now call a local council. He is recorded as Mr. E. Hobson when he was re-elected to the Trust in November 185613, and in December 1858.14
In February 1861 Edwin sought to lease the hotel at Woranga. It is interesting to note that Edwin's home was called Lillies Leaf, after the region in Roxburghshire, Scotland where the Easton family originated.
TO LET—The British Hotel, Woranga, seven miles from Port Albert. For particulars apply on the premises, or to Mr. EDWIN HOBSON, Lillies Leaf.15
In October and November 1861 however he was advertising the services of the hotel with himself as the proprietor.
NOTICE.—On and after the 10th October, 1861, a light conveyance will leave the British Hotel, Lillies Leaf, to meet the steamer arriving from Melbourne, and again on
the morning of her departure. There are extensive well grassed paddocks with permanent water at the British Hotel, where horses can be left until the arrival of the steamer at moderate charges.
FARES, 1s 6d EACH WAY.
EDWIN HOBSON, Proprietor16
The enterprise earned the respect of the newspaper proprietor:
We would draw the attention of the public to the advertisement which appears in our columns to-day, announcing the intention of Mr. Hobson, of the British Hotel, Lillies Leaf, to run a conveyance to the Port to meet the steamer on her arrival and departure. An undertaking which we trust will meet with that success the enterprise deserves.17
In June 1862 Edwin appeared as a witness in a case of apparent fraud which was ultimately dismissed as a series of mis-understandings. Edwin identified himself as a publican residing at Woranga.18
It is around this time that newspapers reports can lead to some misunderstanding of the Hobson family. There were in fact two Edwin Hobsons living in the Gippsland area, along with an Edward Hobson, brother of Edmund Hobson the noted naturalist and physician. The latter pair had been born at Parramatta in New South Wales and Edward was heavily associated with the Traralgon district.19 The other Edwin Hobson was a storekeeper at Bald Hills who infamously robbed the Bald Hills bank. While the Bald Hills are not in Gippsland, it is believed that same individual died in Gippsland under strange circumstances in 1904 by falling out of his cart. This section is being followed up as it has been suggested that it was Edwin Hobson of Lillies Leaf who was charged with robbing the Bald Hills' Bank.
Having made that distinction, we do know that Edwin the husband of Isabella Oliver was a publican, and in July 1864 Edwin advertised that he would seeking to extend his publican's license.
To the Worshipful the Bench of Magistrates at Palmerston, Shire of Alberton.
I, EDWIN HOBSON,farmer, now residing at Lillies Leaf, near Woranga, in the said shire, do hereby give notice that it is my intention to apply to the Justices sitting in the Court of Petty Sessions to be holden at Palmerston on Tuesday the nineteenth day of July, 1864 for a certificate authorising the issue of a Publican's License for a house situated at Lillies Leaf, aforesaid, containing three sitting rooms and nine bed rooms exclusive of those required for the use of myself and family. It is a house built partly of brick, partly of iron, and partly of wood, occupied by myself and rented from Mr. David Turnbull the owner. Is not at present licensed, and that I intend it, when licensed, to be known under the sign of "The British
Dated this 1st day of July, A.D. 1864.
In May 1865 Edwin is reported to have received payment from the shire council as follows:
PAYMENTS. The following accounts were passed for payment:—Inder, Hobson and Co., £100; day labour, £4 5s Gd ; Fitzgerald and Costella, £5 10s ; J. McPherson, amount due for acting as overseer at Lillies Leaf bridge.
TENDER. The following tender was opened and accepted, for contract No 202, re-constructing a culvert near Woodside, Inder, Hobson and Co., £29 15s.21
Just five months later however in October 1865 Edwin Hobson removed himself from the same company as reported in the Gippsland Guardian.
NOTICE—WHEREAS disputes and differences have arisen between the undersigned, and Edwin Hobson, relative to the contract for the erection of the Woodside Bridge, under the name of Inder, Hobson & Co. We hereby give notice, that Edwin Hobson has retired from the above firm, and the contract will be carried out under the name of
Inder, Rendle & Co.22
In November 1868 Benjamin Hobson placed a notice advising he had applied for a number of allotments in the Balloong parish.
NOTICE.—I have this day made application for a License to occupy eight (8) twenty-acre allotments under the regulations of the Amending Land Act, situate and
being portion of allotment 16 A, block 11, in the parish of Balloong, 20th November, 1868.
To George Hastings, Esq., Surveyor.23
Benjamin Hobson married Anna Maria Devonshire in 1876 in Yarram, Victoria.24 Anna Maria was born in 1846 in Adelaide, South Australia, the daughter of Charles Devonshire and Elizabeth Rashleigh.25 Benjamin and Anna Maria had seven children that have been traced.
Throughout the 1880s there are many references to Benjamin Hobson selling produce at the Melbourne Live Stock Market. Bullocks, cows and fattened calves were typical items.26 By 1888 he was selling thoroughbred horses.
In thoroughbreds Mr B. Hobson, of Yarram, took premier position with Bow, a very handsome two year old, winning three prizes with him.27
The year before, in August 1887, Benjamin Hobson was elected a local councillor.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)
The shire elections are over, as you have already announced. In the South riding, the retiring councillor, Mr. W. Bland, was defeated by 23 votes. His antagonist was Mr. Benjamin Hobson. That the two candidates were on the most friendly terms was evident by the way they fraternised with each other, and travelled from booth to booth in company. At Alberton, which was the first return announced, Mr Bland led by one vote. Mr. Hobson's return was said then to be assured, and this anticipation was realised when the home booth gave him a vote some ten over that recorded for Mr. Bland. This was supplemented by a majority of 14 at the Palmerston booth. Exit Bland, enter Hobson. Some think the electors have not shown Mr. Bland much gratitude for his past year's service. Be this as it may, Mr. Hobson has been returned, and the fiat of the electors having gone forth, it must rest there. Mr. Hobson's friends have prophesied great things of him.28
By September 1887 Benjamin was already an energetic representative for his region, seeking to protect the local market from lower quality imported goods:
SOUTH GlPPSLAND STOCK PROTECTION ASSOCIATION.
(FROM OUR YARRAM CORRESPONDENT.)
A meeting was held on Saturday evening in the Yarram Yarram mechanics' hall to discuss the stock tax. Mr. Benjamin Hobson, councillor for the south riding, read the announcement convening the meeting. He asked them to appoint a chairman. The meeting, which numbered about 60 persons, unanimously called upon Mr Hobson to take the chair.
Mr D. T. M'Kenzie, J.P., proposed the following resolution: - "That this meeting views with alarm the introduction of such an influx of stock from the adjoining colonies..."29
In January 1888 a newspaper correspondent wrote lyrically of Woranga district, including a walk through Lillies Leaf.
At Woranga where the South Gipps Land Show is held, I have the best opportunity of studying the people as well as the products of the district. The latter I may briefly sum up. This is the best country show I have seen, the fruit and vegetables the very best I have seen in the colonies, the display of flowers not to be surpassed. Where do all the people come from? They are here by the hundred, all well dressed, all in good buggies or riding good horses. Young or old they are out for a day's enjoyment, and I hope all are as happy as I am. I prefer the fair daughters of Gipps Land to my brunette sweethearts of Norfolk Island. What fun there is in the trials for the ladies' palfrey prize. In the jumping events how I am astonished to see a draught horse, Clyde, clear every hurdle without a mistake. The powerful good-tempered beast I think should have had the prize. Holy church, and the kirk are as courteous to me as the judges. Then the drive home through Lillie's Leaf, and the ball at night, which is more "silver-tail" than that at Roma, where I witness "a walk, a trot and a canter", in the form of quadrille, polka, and waltz, whilst the old pioneers look on and think of the days when they joined in the corrobborees of the black fellows on this very spot. And then I accompany Mr Burrows in his evening walk to the end of the wharf, and afterwards we drink with Messrs Thompson and Bruce prosperity to the future of Port Albert.30
In September 1893 it was reported that Benjamin Hobson had advanced money for the purchase of a show ground.
Yarram, Mr. Benjamin Hobson, a member, very generously offered to advance the sum of £200 for the purchase of a new show ground, which with the requisite improvements is estimated to cost nearly £1000.31
Isabella Hobson, nee Oliver, died on 21 November 1896 in Yarram, Victoria. The cause of death was recorded as senile decay. Isabella had been suffering from the secondary cause of death, cerebral softening, for three months. The death registration noted that Isabella was the daughter of Peter Oliver and Isabella Easton, had been born in Edinburgh, and had been in Tasmania for 20 years, and in Victoria for 50 years. Isabella's reported age was 75 and the informant for the event was her son Benjamin.32
Edwin Hobson survived his wife for just under five years and died on 8 May 1901 in Alberton, Victoria.33
HOBSON.-On 9th May, at his residence, Riversleigh, Edwin Hobson, beloved Father of Benj. Hobson, aged 86. A colonist for 54 years.34
Benjamin Hobson, the only son of Edwin Hobson and Isabella Oliver, died on 26 January 1924 in Yarram, Victoria.35
HOBSON - On the 26th January, 1924, at his late residence, Riversleigh, Yarram, Benjamin Hobson, beloved husband of Annie M. Hobson, and loving father of Frederlck, Stella (Mrs W. Cockbill), Wynne and Eric, aged 78 years. (Born In Tasmania, and a resident of Gippsland for 71 years).36
A lengthy obituary was published in the Gippsland Times on 31 January 1924 demonstrating a remarkable knowledge of Benjamin and his parent's early history.
One by one the men who pioneered Gippsland are passing away, and the latest to be removed from our midst is Mr. Benj. Hobson, one of the most highly esteemed and respected residents of the Yarram district. The deceased gentleman had several strokes, and took to his bed a few days ago, and died on Saturday evening last. The late Mr. Hobson was born at Green Pond, Tasmania, on May 10th., 1846, and was thus 78 years old. His father, the late Edwin Hobson, was a Yorkshireman hailing from Huddersfield, and his mother from Edinborough, Scotland. His parents crossed over from Tasmania in 1849, arriving at Port Albert, and settled at Tarraville, later going to Stratford, North Gippsland, where there is a street named after Mr. Edwin Hobson. Mr. Benj. Hobson later came back, and lived at Lilies Leaf, and then to the flour mill at Waranga near Yarram, which was owned and built by Mr. Chas. Lucas. Mr. Hobson bought the present property, "Riversleigh," from Richardson Bros., about 1875. At that time the timber around was so dense that Mr. Hobson was not aware that there were hills not far distant from his property. The property that he acquired was covered with dense scrub and timber and it took years of hard work to make it the fine property that it is today. Mr. Hobson lived on his property for the rest of his life.37
Benjamin left a substantial estate for his wife and children:
By will dated May 2, 1916, Mr Benjamin Hobson, of Yarram, farmer and grazier, who died on January 28, left real estate of a gross value of £31,173, and personal property of a gross value of £12,164, to his wife and children.38
Anna Maria Hobson, nee Devonshire, the wife of Benjamin Hobson, died on 18 February 1929 in Yarram, Victoria.39
HOBSON - On the 13th February, at Riverslelgh. Yarram. Annie, relict of the late Benjamin Hobson, loving mother of Fred, Wynne, Eric, and Stella (Mrs. W. Cockblll), aged 83 years.40
An obituary was published on 18 February 1929 in the Gippsland Times.
Death came to Mrs. Benjamin Hobson, of "Riversleigh," Yarram, on Wednesday, at the age of 83 years. Her maiden name was Miss Annie Devonshire, daughter of the late Mr. Chas. Devonshire, a store keeper in the days of early Yarram. She married Mr. Ben Hobson at the time he went on to the "Riversleigh" estate, a home she enjoyed for the rest of her life. She reared a family of four sons, Fred, Wynne and Eric, who remain residents of the district, and one daughter, Stella, (Mrs. Cockbill). The deceased lady has been a wonderful woman on the land, and with her late husband, did her part amongst the district's trusty pioneers.41
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