Canon Richard Hobson 1831-1914
A visitor to Donard
Some months back a visitor to Donard told us of a Canon Richard Hobson. Canon Hobson had a huge impact on a Liverpool parish, back in the nineteenth century. He was surprised that we hadn’t even heard of him and after some research, so am I especially as he was born in Co. Wicklow.
“She planted the seed of eternal life”.
Richard Hobson was born to John and Catherine Hobson, in 1831, in Donard (2). (Fig. 1) His family were poor, but Richard said of his mother that through these hard times her “very look was love and home to her children in whom, in her simple motherly way, she planted the seed of eternal life”(3).
This strength of faith and belief that love could overcome hardships would stay with him and serve himself and others well in years to come.
Aged 21 he began working with the Irish Church Missions. He stayed with them for 11 years and then applied for theological college. He had intended to preach in Ireland but, by mistake, sent his application to Birkenhead in England. In 1863 he joined St. Aidan’s Theological College, Birkenhead, Liverpool, (3.1).
He would have a challenge on his hands
After graduating Hobson spent three years ministering in Claughton, Liverpool, as its Deacon, after which he took up his ministry at St Nathaniel’s Church, Windsor. (3.2) In Victorian times, Windsor was described as “socially and morally the lowest in all the south east portion of Liverpool”(6). This was a big contrast to Claughton which was “wealthy and cultured”(3.3). Therefore, he would have a challenge on his hands.
Parish of ill-repute
Hobson got to work straight away spending six hours a day, Monday to Friday, and another three hours on Saturday, visiting each house to see its conditions(8). J.C. Ryle, the then Bishop of Liverpool, said he was “a man who tries….. to visit his people in a ….. sympathising way …. at the rate of 75 families a week”(6.1). His hard work certainly paid off and over the span of his 33 years at St Nathaniel’s he turned the parish of Windsor, from a parish of ill-repute to one, though no richer in pocket, certainly more rich in spirit and all the better for it (8.1).
“Richard Hobson of Liverpool: A Faithful Pastor”
The book “Richard Hobson of Liverpool: A Faithful Pastor” which is based on Hobson’s own autobiography and published by The Banner of Truth Trust is available from Amazon or www.banneroftruth.org/uk for those wishing to learn more about this remarkable man.
(2) 1871 census, www.ancestry.co.uk
(3) (4) (5) (7 ) www.evangelical-times.org/27825/richard-hobson/