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DEATH OF THE REV. JOHN HOBBS.

(Auckland Herald, Jane 25.)

It is with feelings of regret that we record in oar obituary column this morning the death of the Rev John Hobbs, the oldest Wesleyan missionary in New Zealand, or the Australasian group, and who was a contemporary and fallow- worker in the New Zealand mission field with ihe Venerable Samuel Marsden, Bishop Williamß, Bishop Selwyn, and others who have passed to their reward. He died last evening at seven ©'clock, at the advanced age of 83. Seme particulars concerning a career so eventfull will be interesting to cur readers : —

The Rev John Hobbs was the s«b of Richard and Elizabeth Hobb3, and born on February 21,1 800, at St Peter's, Isle of Thanet, in Kent. His father (who was a local preacher under John Wesley) was in the building trade, combined with coach-building, and had a large business, in which the subject of this memoir was brought up. The knowledge thus acquired proved of great value to him in his after mission life. While so engaged in business he fulfilled the duties of a Wesleyan local preacher. At the age of 22 the subject of this notice resolved to go to Tasmania, having a strong desire to be of service in his Master's cause, among the convicts in that then penal colony. Soon after his arrival in Tasmania the Revs Nathaniel Turner and Carvosso urged him to write home and offer his services to the Wesleyan Missionary Society. During the interval of hearing from the Society he went to Sydney, where he met the Rev Samuel Marsden, who also offered to employ him at once in the Church Missionary Society work if he would go with him to New Zealand, which offer he would have accepted but for being in correspondence with the Wesleyan Missionary Society, as well as his father's parting words. When he told Mr Marsden his determination that gentleman characteristically replied : — " Never mind who you go with, but go" On 3rd August, 1823. Mr Hobbs flailed from Sydney for New Zealand in the ship Brampton, with Mr Marsden (who was the agent of tfce Church Missionary Society), the late Archdeacon Henry Williams, and the Rev Nathaniel Turner, a missionary of the Wesleyan Missionary Society. Be arrived at the Bay of Islands the same month, and Mr Turner and Mr Hobbs went to Whangaroa to labour. After the destruction of the Mission Station in 1529 by the natives, who plundered their house and burnt it, and where they only escaped with their lives, the late chief Patuone taking them under hiß protection,} Mr Hobbs re-

turned to Sydney. He only remaiaed a short time in Sydney, where he married Miss Broggref, who came out from Ramsgato to join him. The young couple then returned to New Zealand, and went to Hokianga. It was at this station that Patunne and Waka None became his true and faithful friends, and remained so till they died. In 1833 Mr Hobbs requested the Home Committee to remove him, mid he was directed to go to tbe Friendly Islands, where he speedily acquired the language, took charge of the mission printing press, and soon became quite expert in printing and translating mission publications. Mrs Hobbs' health, however, soon failed, and a change was ordered by a medical man, as the only hope he could hold out, and he recommended that, they should go to Tasmania. The whaling ship in which they took passage for Tasmania proved to be in a very leaky condition, and the Captain put into tho Kay of Islands, where the ship was condemned ns unseaworthy, and beached. Mr Turner, then at Hokianga, having heard of the arrival of Mr Hobbs at the Bay, hastened across, and requested Mr Hobbs to take charge of the Mission Station then under his care, which he accordingly agreed lo do. Mr Hobbs' previous knowledge of the Maoris and their language proved valuable to the Church, and he soon employed bis talent in various departments of Mission labour, building houses and boats, and in translating and printing the Scriptures in Maori — a work in which he was assisted by Abraham Taonui, a chief of Ngapuhi, lately deceased.

Mr Hobbs had a more than ordinary attachment to his Queen and country, and the Government. It is not too much to say that it was mainly due to his influence for good amongst the Ngapuhi, that Tatnati Waka Nene, Mohi Tawhia, and Eruera Patuone cames out staunchly as allies at the time of the colony's peril, when Hone Heke declared war, and sicked Kororareka (vow called Russell). His services were often asked, and freely given to the Government, when they had any important questions in hand with the Datives. Mr Hobbs acted as intrepreter to Governor Hobson when he went over to Hokianga to get the Treaty of Waitanga signed by the Ngapuhi. The loyal influence of the Wesleyan missien in Hokianga was of infinite value to the authorities in those days, and was freely acknowledged by the Government. Mr Hobbs was frequently weeks away at a time from his home, visiting the natives in various parts of the colony. When he heard of the untimely death of the Rev. John Bumby, by the upsetting of a canoe, in crossing the Waitemata from Ransitoto to the North Shore, he started off' at once overland from Hokianga to Auckland, in the vain hope of recovering the body, which, however, was never recovered.

In 1848 Mr Ilobbs was appointed to commence a Wealeyan station in tbe Upper Whanganui district, and a vessel, the Harriet Leathart, was chartered for tfce purpose of conveying the Eev. G-. Stannard and family and the Eev, W. Kirk and wife to their new scene of labour. Tbe voyage proved to be a disastrous ene, the vessel being stranded on the West Coast, near Whanganui, after a most providential escape from bsing cast on the rocky coast adjacent. Owing to Mr Hobbs being all night exposed to the winds and waves, lashed to the rigging, he became afflicted with almoEt total deafness, wbich caused his retirement from active work long before his own wishes would have permitted him doing so. In 1855 he removed his family to Auckland, and spent a year at the Three Kings Institution ; but his loss of hearing so much, interfered with his duties that he was compelled to retire into private life ; and he has since resided in Auckland, where he has enjoyed the friendship of many of his early associates in mission work.

His early association with the founders of the Church Mission, and the sympathy and help given by them ia all times of need, greatly endeared them to him ; and many of his dying words referred to the exciting times of their early mission labors together. Telegrams from these friends of his youth, in his last illness, testified their sympathy for their "brother John," as he was familiarly styled. The Rev. James Wallis, Thomas Buddie, and Alexander Reid, old workers in the Maori mission field, and other clergymen, have visited him in his last illness, and amongst other friends, Bishop and Mrs. Cowie. Our space will not admit of our referring at length to his mission labors, but no doubt at the fitting time some of his old co-workers in the mission field will fulfil the duty of recounting them.

His last illness proved * tedious and painful. Sometimes he said he feared patience had not yet had " her perfect work," but his mind was kept in perfect peace. Kind messages to friends and to young people in whose welfare he was interested were on his lips to the last. When asked some questions as to his past career, he said, " I de not desire any praise. God knows I have done my poor best, but having dono all, I have been an unprofitable servant." His memory will be dear to many in England, America, Australia, Tonga and in New Zealand.

Mr Hobbs never acquired any property worth speaking about. His legacy to his children is the memory of a life of strict integrity, devoted to the service of the Master whom he loved. His aged partner survives him, aged 85. They celebrated their "golden wedding" some six years ago. Of hia ten children seven survive, two sons and five daughters. The former are Mr Richard Hobbs, b«th of Pokeno. 0 f the daughters two are married to Wesleyan clergymen— the Rev. W. Kirk, of Richmond, Nelson, and the Rev. W. Gittos, of Kaipara— the ethers being Mrs Wilcox, of Wellington, whose husband is deceased, Mrs James Bloomfield, and Mrs G. S. Jakins, of Ponsonby. He leaves also thirty grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Mr Hobbs left a written request, signed by himself and Mrs Hobbs to the effect that his funeral was to be as plain and simple as possible, and without the visual emblems of mourning.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NEM18830630.2.14

Bibliographic details

DEATH OF THE REV. JOHN HOBBS., Nelson Evening Mail, Volume XVIII, Issue 154, 30 June 1883

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DEATH OF THE REV. JOHN HOBBS. Nelson Evening Mail, Volume XVIII, Issue 154, 30 June 1883

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