Peter Hobart


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Reverend Peter Hobart was born in Hingham, Norfolk, England in 1604.  Raised by parents who were very pious, Hobart was taught to appreciate religion from an early age.  He attended grammar school as well as the free-school in Lyn.  Hobart then earned a Bachelor’s Degree at Magdalen College, Cambridge in 1625, followed by a Master of Arts four years later. 

Many members of Hobart's family moved to the colonies in the first half of the 17th century, and in the mid-1630 he decided to join them.  Hobart recorded on the first page of his journal, “I with my wife and four children came safely to New England June ye 8: 1635: for ever praysed be the god of Heaven my god and king.."  He would soon settle in Hingham, becoming its first minister.

Hobart was dedicated to his profession, holding services in his home before a church was built.  A pious man, he was known for his well-crafted and researched sermons and for his distaste of any type of indulgence, including alcoholism, gossiping, and vanity/pride.  He often spoke of the perils of these sins in his sermons but was also known to speak to offenders in private  to encourage them to reform their ways.

Rev. Hobart was a controversial figure in both Hingham and in the surrounding area.  He was one of many in Massachusetts who believed that the existing form of government in the colony was inadequate.  Indeed, he thought that the magistrates held too much power and felt that the deputies and townships should have a greater say. He was also known to voice his opinions to anyone and everyone, including to the colonial government itself.  This resulted in several clashes with the government, especially with Deputy Governor John Winthrop.  It also resulted in a schism in the Hingham congregation, as some residents agreed with him and others did not. 

Hobart also felt that ministers should have freedom to make decisions that differed from the established church, and he was known to do so.  For example, church doctrine stated that only adults who declared their faith in God and had a conversion experience could be full church members.  Hobart, however, allowed all Hingham residents except known public sinners to be members of his church.  This only caused friction with the government and with the church.  However, Hobart had very influential friends and was therefore able to come out of any controversy relatively unscathed.

Hobart held his position as minister in Hingham for over forty years.  Towards the end of his life he was afflicted with multiple illnesses and infirmities, making it difficult for him to continue his duties.  However, he was determined to live as long as possible in order to see that his youngest children received a good education and that his Parish prospered.  When he died in January of 1679, he left behind fifteen children to carry on the Hobart name as well as a long religious legacy.