Hobson's Mosses and Hepaticae

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 MMM/2/6
  • Dates of Creation
      1818-1822
  • Physical Description
      3 items Contain dried plant specimens, many of which are in poor condition

Scope and Content

A series of three volumes containing specimens of plants the first of which is preceded by a printed title page which reads 'A Collection of Specimens of British Mosses and Hepaticae collected in the vicinity of Manchester, and Systematically Arranged with reference to the Muscologia Britanica, English Botany, &c. &c. &c. by Edward Hobson, Manchester, Printed by M Wilson, Barlow's-Court, Manchester, 1818'.

The second two volumes also contain printed title pages with a slightly amended wording: 'A Collection of Specimens of British Mosses and Hepaticae collected in the vicinity of Manchester, and Systematically Arranged with reference to the Muscologia Britanica, English Botany, and British Jungermannia &c. &c. &c. by Edward Hobson, Vol. II (or III) Manchester, Printed by M Wilson, Barlow's-Court, Manchester, 1822'.

Common references to the work refer to two volumes only and a memoir of Hobson's life written shortly after his death implies that whilst a third volume was alluded to, Hobson never had the leisure to complete it.

All three volumes follow the same layout with one mounted specimen on each leaf and a printed caption at the bottom naming and referencing the specimen. Smaller specimens are commonly placed in small envelopes mounted upon the page. There are printed tabs at the tops of some pages separating one genus from another. Given the complicated nature of production it is unlikely many copies would have been produced and some sources claim that only approximately 25 were produced.

Administrative / Biographical History

Edward Hobson (1782-1830) was born in Manchester on 23 May 1782 and by the age of 12 had begun to learn and practice the craft of weaving. By 1815, however, he was a warehouseman in the city. He had a strong interest in botany and would meet with other like-minded working men in pubs around Manchester to discuss botany. From 1811 he focused his interest and studies on the area of mosses and liverworts, widely regarded to be a difficult area of study. Hobson was acquainted with John Horsefield (1792-1854), James Crowther (1768-1847), George Caley (1770-1829), and William Jackson Hooker (1785-1865) and it was the interest and encouragement of the latter, who also supplied Hobson with a microscope, that led him to produce A Collection of Specimens of British Mosses and Hepaticae, known as Musci Britannici.

Hobson was heavily involved in scientific societies in Manchester including the pub-based working-men's meetings and the Manchester Natural History Society as well as being involved in the foundation of the Banksian Society, which encouraged a mixed social membership for the study of natural history. His interests towards the end of his life turned to entomology and he discovered a beetle named Chrsomela hobsoni.

Despite offers of work relating to natural history Hobson remained a warehouseman throughout his working life. He died from tuberculosis on 7 September 1830, whereupon his collection of over 11,000 dried plant specimens were sold to the Manchester Horticultural and Botanical Society and his insect cabinet was sold to the Banksian Society and later passed to the Manchester Mechanics' Institution.

Bibliography

Anne Secord, 'Hobson, Edward (1782-1830)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press, 2004.