John Cam Hobhouse
Friend of Byron
1786 - 1869
Visits Whitton Park with ByronByron’s lifelong friend from Cambridge days, Hobhouse was known as “Hobby”. His father Sir Benjamin Hobhouse, Whig M.P. for Bristol, leased one of the Whitton properties of George Gostling for twenty one years from 1809, calling it Whitton Park to distinguish it from Gostling’s Whitton Place.
John Cam’s relations with his father were not always of the best, but he did visit the house from time to time and was accompanied by Byron at least once, on July 8th 1812. Their friendship had stood the test of a long journey together to the East, the source of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. When Hobhouse later set out alone Byron wrote to Lady Melbourne: “... he is ye oldest, indeed ye only friend I have and ... in parting with him, I lose ‘a guide, philosopher and friend’ I neither can nor wish to replace”.
Hobhouse lived at Whitton while correcting the proofs of Don Juan for Byron, by then in permanent exile. As Byron's executor he was there again in the summer of 1824, sorting through correspondence.
A further, more distant link with Byron is provided by the residence in Twickenham of Amelia Marianne Leigh (1817-1876), daughter of the poet's half-sister Augusta. Amelia is recorded as living at 1 Osborne Villas, London Road in 1865, at 7 (now 13) Apsley Villas, Twickenham Green the following year, and at 15 Chepstow Terrace, Queens Road by 1874. From here her funeral departed in January 1876.
Inherits Whitton Park
John inherited the lease on the house on his father's death in 1831 but seems never to have lived in it, renting Archdeacon Cambridge's house in 1832 and occupying a villa at Twickenham near the Thames in 1833.
In his diary for May 24th 1836 he wrote:
“Went to Whitton. Desolate and melancholy in the extreme. A thousand recollections crowded over me. I go there no more!”
P Foster and D H Simpson, Whitton Park and Whitton Place, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper No 41, Revised by Vic Rosewarne, 1999
Leslie A Marchand, Byron - A Portrait, John Murray, 1971
Brian Louis Pearce, The Fashioned Reed, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper No 67, 1992