William Hobson


William Hobson
William Hobson

After a lengthy Royal Navy career in which he saw action in the Napoleonic Wars and was twice captured by pirates in the Caribbean, William Hobson (1792-1842) became New Zealand's first Governor.

Governor Bourke had already sent him to New Zealand in 1838, and his report so impressed Lord Glenelg that when he decided, in December 1838, to appoint a Consul to New Zealand, he offered the post to Hobson. Hobson, though, took two months before accepting, on 14 February 1839, as he had been hoping instead to receive further promotion as a senior naval officer.

Sent out by Lord Normanby in 1839 with detailed instructions, he travelled first to Governor Gipps in Sydney, whose lieutenant he was to be, for further instructions. Hobson arrived in the Bay of Islands on 29 January but landed on 30 January to read his proclamation of appointment and arranged for a meeting at British Resident James Busby's house on 5 February, while the Treaty was being drafted. On the following day, 6 February, as the chiefs came forward to sign he greeted each of them with the words 'He iwi tahi tatou' (We are all one people). At the end of 1840,

New Zealand ceased to be a protectorate of New South Wales and became a colony in its own right, with Hobson as Governor and Auckland as its capital city. The administration was short of cash and had frequent conflict with settlers, who were hungry for land and wanted control of the colony's government. After barely two years as Governor, he died from a stroke at the age of 49.

Adapted from the DNZB biography by K. A. Simpson

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12 comments have been posted about William Hobson

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Posted: 13 Mar 2023

i have a ancester called william hobson and he was around nz in the 1838


Posted: 24 Feb 2014

I have an ancestor named William Hobson who was a merchant who arrived in Auckland in the late 1850/s. He returned on a ship in the 1860's back to England for an eye operation and died on the way back. His daughter donated a beautiful stained glass window which is still inside the baptismal font at St Matthews in the City.


Posted: 22 Feb 2014

On further research the Blue Plaque apparently the birthplace of William Hobson is fixed to 18 Lombard Street which runs in to William Street, Waterford, Ireland. The following links relate to this.



Posted: 22 Feb 2014

I noticed recently a blue plaque on a house in William Street, Co Waterford, Ireland claiming to be the birthplace of William Hobson, first Governor of New Zealand.


Posted: 02 Apr 2013

I am researching my NZ Hobson relatives from 1840s-1850s. I'm trying to find out the names of Capt William Hobson's siblings. My relative is Joseph Hobson and an Uncle "Sandy" Hobson.


Posted: 30 Apr 2012

It may also be helpful and interesting for you to know that William Hobson had been in the navy since he was 10 years old.