Frederick Hobley (1833-1908): Home and Family

Frederick Hobley was the eldest son of Edward and Harriet Hobley. Hobley was one of ten children, six boys, Frederick, George, Harry, Edwin, Sydney and Herbert Charles, and four girls, Mary Ann, Jane, Emma and Fanny. When it comes to home and family, Frederick Hobley does not speak much of this. Throughout his autobiography, he tends to focus more on education and his life as an individual.

Hobley talks in his autobiography of the times that he was taken out for a walk on Sundays. He expressed ‘and if we went near this school, I remember, I used to rub by as fast as possible lest I should be taken into it. So it seems I did not cherish much affection for my second school.’ Ironically, Hobley did not have much interest in school early on.

A Dame school, 1856

Because it is very hard to find any information about Frederick Hobley’s family, we must look for clues in his autobiography about what his upbringing would have been like. We learn that Hobley was in a Dame’s school when he was very young. An article called ‘Early Education for the Poor’ by Peter Higginbotham gives is an incline of what this would have been like for Frederick Hobley. According to this article ‘Dame schools were run by women of often little or no qualification who charged 3d or 4d per pupil a week and taught skills such as reading and writing to a rudimentary level.’ Dame schools were often seen as child-care services rather than schools.

We begin to get the impression that Frederick Hobley was not in the wealthiest family. Of course, being one of ten children, it was expected that education fees would become and issue for the family. We also learn through Hobley’s autobiography, of how children were treated in these schools as opposed to how children are treated in schools today.

Ultimately, we do not learn much about Frederick Hobley’s family life, nor was I able to reach out to any of his relatives. However, we do learn a lot about his school-life and that gave us some hints as to what his family and home life was like.

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