Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Hobson & Son

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    ENGLAND
    Posts
    506

    Hobson & Son

    Many will be familiar with the name Hobson & Son featuring on British military swords.

    But, did you know that the Hobson behind Hobson & Sons was actually Mrs Sarah Hobson, a widow who carried on the business of artillery cap manufacturer after the death of her husband Charles Hobson in 1858.

    Charles Hobson is recorded in the 1851 census at 6 Artillery Place as Sargeant, Royal Artillery. First I can find of him as an Artillery Cap Manufacturer is in 1857, trading from Artillery House, 49 Artillery Place, Woolwich however he is trading in the style of simply 'Charles Hobson', no mention of a son, the eldest of whom would have been around 16 then.

    In 1859 and 1860 Sarah advertised to patrons of her husband that she would be carrying on the busines as Sarah Hobson. And although her elder son Joseph would have been aged 19 in 1860 there is still no mention of 'Hobson and son' at that time.

    The earliest reference I have found so far dates to 1870 when Hobson and Son are mentioned as 'manufacturers' of a presentation sword.

    Hobson & Son therefore likely came into being in that name between 1860 and 1870.

    Sarah, her 2 sons and a daughter are all recorded in the 1871 census as Military Cap Makers. She is later recorded as Military Outfitter.

    In 1871 Hobson & Son advertise that they have been "Established 50 years" possibly being a little economical with the truth with this claim! They are trading from 43 & 44 Artillery Place at this time.

    By 1873 they are trading from 94 St. Martin's Lane which lasts until 1st December 1877 when they remove to Little Windmill Street.

    In 1881 Joseph was recorded in the census as a licenced victualler so at this time the '& Son' may refer to her next eldest Edwin B Hobson.

    Sarah is recorded in 1981 and 91 census as living on independent means so the trade has clearly been good to her.

    Sarah Hobson died in 1898 in Greenwich.
    Last edited by james.elstob; 09-30-2020 at 03:24 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    ENGLAND
    Posts
    506
    Aaaaand.

    In 1885 Hobson & Sons have a further change of address but not a change of premises!

    In that year Little Windmill Street was renamed Lexington Street after Baron Lexington. Under the new numbering system 37&38 Little Windmill Street becomes 1,3 & 5 Lexington Street.

    They continue advertising themselves using both style addreses until at least 1888.

    At least one sword dated after the change in 1885 is known to use the Little Windmill St address, it is dated 1886. When they officially changed to using Lexington Street in their etching is not known.
    Last edited by james.elstob; 09-30-2020 at 04:18 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Western Canada
    Posts
    305
    Interesting detective work James. I wonder how some of the stuffy Victorian officers might have reacted to a woman running a business, or if it was even something they would have known? I find this type of social history interesting as it's sometime different than how we think it was.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    ENGLAND
    Posts
    506
    Thanks Mike, I was really surprised and I've found many more women in the UK census records as military outfitters.

    I had previously thought of the trade as a male dominated business similar to the tailoring trade but such work may have been popular with women willing and able to do piece work from their own homes.

    I'm yet to find a female sword cutler but you never know!

    I wouldn't be surprised to find officers taking their business elsewhere rather than have 'Sarah Hobson & Son' etched on their blade.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Stratford upon Avon UK
    Posts
    396
    Nice work James, there were at least two prominent women who took over their husbands sword manufacturing, Thomas Cullum was succeeded by his widow Mary in 1790 till her death five years later, and Elizabeth Gill who continued husband John Gill’s firm from 1817 until she died in 1835. I’m not aware of a Cullum sword marked to Mary, but I do have an 1821p H C marked E.Gill.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    ENGLAND
    Posts
    506
    Of course, I had forgotten about Gill. I'm less familiar with pre Victorian trade.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    West Yorkshire, England.
    Posts
    362
    Quote Originally Posted by james.elstob View Post
    Thanks Mike, I was really surprised and I've found many more women in the UK census records as military outfitters.

    I had previously thought of the trade as a male dominated business similar to the tailoring trade but such work may have been popular with women willing and able to do piece work from their own homes.

    I'm yet to find a female sword cutler but you never know!

    I wouldn't be surprised to find officers taking their business elsewhere rather than have 'Sarah Hobson & Son' etched on their blade.
    A lot of military uniform was assembled by outworkers in the 19thC. Pre-cut pieces were jobbed out by official contractors, and often further sub let to seamstresses and "needlewomen" at ever decreasing rates of pay. Author and journalist Henry Mayhew even devoted a chapter in his book "London Labour and London Poor" to their plight.

  8. #8
    I have 2 brass belt plates, similar coat of arms, different crowns under lion. The 1 has wider flat crown,Victorian? On reverse HOBSON & SONS LEXINGTON STREET W

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Central Coast NSW Australia
    Posts
    149
    Hi David,

    Should we be surprised by these developments. My mother sewed Australian service uniforms during WW2 for David Jones, a well-known officer's outfitters.

    Keep safe.

    George
    “The Australian Light Horse attack on Beersheba was the last important cavalry charge in history and the last to win a resounding victory that altered the course of a war." Alec Hepburn

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •