Hoblyn, Robert (DNB00)

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HOBLYN, ROBERT (1710–1756), book collector, was born at Nanswhyden House, and baptised at St. Columb Major in Cornwall 5 May 1710. His father, Francis Hoblyn, born in 1687, a J.P. for Cornwall and a member of the Stannary parliament, was buried at St. Columb on 9 Nov. 1711. His mother was Penelope, daughter of Colonel Sidney Godolphin of Shropshire. She married secondly, on 5 Sept. 1714, Sir William Pendarves of Pendarves. Robert Hoblyn was educated at Eton, matriculated from Corpus Christi College, Oxford, on 18 Dec. 1727, took a B.C.L. degree in 1734, and in the same year contributed verses to the ‘Epithalamia Oxoniensia.’ He sat as one of the members for the city of Bristol from 24 Nov. 1742 to 8 April 1754, and was appointed speaker of two convocations of the Stannary parliament in Cornwall. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society 13 June 1745, and admitted 24 Oct.

Early in life he travelled in Italy, where he collected many scarce books. He inherited an ample fortune, which was very largely increased by his success in mining. With his wealth he restored his ancestral home, Nanswhyden House, employing Potter as the architect. This building is described in Dr. Borlase's ‘Natural History of Cornwall,’ 1758, p. 90, pl. viii., engraved at the expense of Mrs. Jane Hoblyn. He delighted in building and collecting books, and destroyed all the documents relating to the cost. The books formed a useful collection, and were divided into the classes of natural and moral philosophy. He made a manuscript catalogue in which he marked with a star those works which were not in the Bodleian. All clergymen and persons of literary tastes had free access to the library.

Hoblyn died at Nanswhyden House on 17 Nov. 1756. His monument in St. Columb Church bears a very long inscription. He married Jane, only daughter of Thomas Coster, merchant, Bristol. She remarried in 1759 John Quicke of Exeter. The estates under the entail went to the issue male of Thomas Hoblyn of Tresaddern, while the library went with the widow to John Quicke. In 1768 Quicke printed the catalogue in two volumes, entitled ‘Bibliotheca Hobliniana sive Catalogus Librorum juxta exemplar quod manu sua maxima ex parte descriptum reliquit Robertus Hoblyn, Armiger de Nanswhyden in Comitatu Cornubiæ.’ An edition in one volume appeared in 1769. Dibdin says in referring to it: ‘I know not who was the author of the arrangement of this collection, but the judicious observer will find it greatly superior to everything of its kind, with hardly even the exception of the “Bibliotheca Croftsiana”’ (Bibliomania, pp. 74, 497). The books were sold in London in 1778, and produced about 2,500l. Nanswhyden House was destroyed by fire on 30 Nov. 1803, with its collections of ancient documents, the records relating to the Stannary parliament, and a valuable cabinet of minerals.

[Polwhele's Cornwall, 1806, v. 94–6; Parochial History of Cornwall, 1867, i. 233–4; Nichols's Illustrations, v. 863; Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, iii. 730, viii. 449, 481, 709, ix. 709–10; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. p. 246.]

G. C. B.