- Also known as
Charles William Hobley
primary name: Hobley, Charles William
- individual; official; British; Male
- Life dates
- Woodfield Quarry Road, Oxsted, Surrey
- British colonial administrator and Senior Provincial Commissioner of the Kenya Colony; CMG. Trained as an engineer and as surveyor. To East Africa in 1890 as employee of British East Africa Company. In 1894 when the British Government took over from the Company became an official in Mombasa. Worked for the East Africa Protectorate Service, and was Sub Commissioner of the Uganda Protectorate. After his retirement and return to Britain he served on the Councils of Geological Society, the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Anthropological Institute and was Vice President of the Geological Society in 1930. Gave a group of objects to the BM in 1937 (Af1937,1029.1 to 7). His 'Museum' collection was given to the BM by his son C E Hobley and daughter Miss Frances Hobley (qq.v.) after his death in 1947 (see Af1947,16.1 to 344). He gave another collection to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge in 1911.
A collection of photographs of Kikuyu and others and drawings of Masai shields is in AOA Ethdoc 33.
On p.133 of his 1910 book on the Kamba, he wrote "During the last few years, contact with Europeans and the partial adoption of European and Swahili dress is in many parts of the country leading to the extinction of many interesting native articles of use, attire and ornament, and one would strongly recommend some determined effort being made by our ethnographical museums to obtain collections of these things while they can."
See Sir Harry Johnston, ’The story of my life’ 1923, pp.377-8: “I associated this part of my researches very much with one of the few really remarkable men I encountered in the Administration of Uganda – C W Hobley. Mt Hobley had originally come out to East Africa in 1890 as a geologist and an engineer. He had soon shown a capacity for administrative work and risen to administrative posts; but his geological eye was always on the strata and his philologist’s ear always listening for strange and new languages. He it was who first directed my attention to the remarkable Bantu languages of western and north-west Elgon. He made the first researches into and discoveries of the Miocene and Pliocene fauna of Equatorial East Africa, revealing to the east of the Victoria Nyanza remains of primitive dinotheres and a new species of an extinct elephant. His researches and discoveries in the algae and aquatic fauna of the Victoria Nyanza assisted us better to understand the problems of Tanganyika.”
Eastern Uganda, an ethnological survey, 1903
A-Kamba and other east African tribes (1910) (with much on their material culture, relevant to objects now in the BM)
Bantu beliefs and magic : with particular reference to the Kikuyu and Kamba tribes of Kenya colony ; together with some reflections on East Africa after the war (1922)
Kenya, from Chartered Company to Crown Colony (1929) (autobiographical)
‘Anthropological studies in Kavirondo and Nandi’, in ‘Journal of the Anthropological Institute’, XXXIII, 1903
Numerous articles in 'Man', and contributor to Sir Harry Johnston's 'Uganda Protectorate', 2 vols.
G H Mungean, ‘British rule in Kenya 1895-1912’, OUP 1966