Born in Welford, Northamptonshire, England, Hobson studied medicine in University College, London, married Jane Abbey, and was sent to China by the London Missionary Society (LMS). Arriving at Macao in 1839, shortly after his colleague William Lockhart, Hobson began his career by working in close cooperation with Peter Parker. He worked at Macao until 1843, when he took charge of a new mission hospital in Hong Kong. It drew a much greater number of patients than anticipated, compelling him to rely heavily on help from Chinese nationals. This development made him think about systematic medical training for Chinese, a need felt also by other medical missionaries. In 1845 he left for England because of the ill health of his wife, who died on the voyage.
In England, Hobson married Rebecca Morrison, daughter of Robert Morrison then returned to the hospital in Hong Kong in 1847. But his idea of medical training for Chinese—which he conceived as early as 1844—remained unfulfilled, since he was requested by the LMS to move to Canton (1848), then to Shanghai (1858), before he finally left China for good because of health problems. Nevertheless, he laid the foundation, and his vision came to realization in 1881 at Tientsin (Tianjin) under John Kenneth MacKenzie, another LMS medical missionary, who compiled and translated medical textbooks into Chinese. Hobson died at Forest Hill, near London.
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.
- William Lockhart, The Medical Missionary in China (1861); K. Chimin Wong, Lancet and Cross (1950); K. Chimin Wong and Wu Lieh-Teh, History of Chinese Medicine (1932).