>George Hoby, Part 6: Back to the Farm

>Part 5 related how George Hoby had spent much of the late 1860s and early 1870s away from his home and family, pursuing clients around the top of the South Island.

Image © Puke Ariki Museum and courtesy of Philip Duke
Berridge-Hoby wedding party at Hoby residence, 6 May 1874
Beach Farm, Bell Block, Taranaki (Albumen print) [107]
On 22 April 1874 George returned to New Plymouth aboard the S.S. Wellington [108], probably to be in time for his second daughter Clara’s wedding at Hua Church to William Berridge of Omata two weeks later [109], and where he was, no doubt, the official photographer.

While Hoby had been laid up or in Nelson, his old colleague Hartley Webster had returned to New Plymouth in January 1873 [110], setting up his own studio in Fishleigh’s Buildings, Devon Street [111]. By October 1874 Webster had diversified and was operating as a “photographer, chemist and druggist,” employing the services of William Andrew Collis as an assistant [112,113]. Perhaps the competition was now too stiff. George did not advertise his photographic or dental services again, and presumably restricted himself to farming activities.

Image © Puke Ariki Museum and courtesy of Philip Duke
Berridge-Hoby wedding party at Hoby residence, 6 May 1874
(Colourised and mounted albumen print) [114]
As recalled by his son Arthur, George may have had “poor success” in his photographic ventures [4], but one could not fault him for persistence. Over the previous decade and a half he had pursued the profession assiduously, spending much of that time away from his family. Although no Hoby photographs from outside Taranaki were discovered during this study, the fact that he spent some years operating in Nelson and Marlborough makes it likely that some examples will surface in due course.

In October 1878, George met with another accident:

Mr. G. Hoby, sen., had a narrow escape from fatal injury on Saturday. He was driving to town with produce from his farm, and when near the Waiongona Bridge, the horse in his trap took fright at something on the road and bolted. Mr. Hoby was thrown out on to the road, and the trap smashed to pieces. Mr. Hoby was picked up insensible, and was conveyed to his home. We have not learnt the extent of his injuries, but we regret to hear that he was very much hurt. [115]

George Hoby died in his home at Beach Farm, Bell Block, Taranaki on the 14th May 1882, aged 61 years [116].


As a cursory glance at the references below will reveal, the research for this article would not have been possible without access to the historical newspaper collection of the National Library of New Zealand, available online as the PapersPast collection. I have also made extensive use of the online Heritage Collection of images of the Puke Ariki Museum, and have received additional kind assistance from Kate Boocock, Pictorial Collection technician at that institution. The task of establishing a biographical framework has been made a great deal easier with the receipt of information from Philip Duke, great-great-grandson of George Hoby, in particular a transcript of the Memoirs of Arthur Hoby, for which I am most grateful.


[4] Hoby, Arthur (1937) Memoirs of Arthur Hoby, Transcript of original held by Alexander Turnbull Library, Courtesy of Philip Duke.[106]

[107] Berridge-Hoby wedding party at Hoby residence, Beach Farm, Bell Block, Taranaki, albumen print, undated, attributed to George Hoby, Collection and courtesy of Philip Duke.

[108] New Plymouth. Arrivals, Taranaki Herald, 22 April 1874, p.2.

[109] Marriage, Taranaki Herald, 13 May 1874, p.2.

[110] Notice (Advertisement), Taranaki Herald, 4 January 1873, p.3.

[111] [A Card] H. Webster, Photographic Gallery, Taranaki Herald, 5 April 1873, p.3.

[112] Business Cards, Taranaki Herald, 7 October 1874, p.4.

[113] Advertisements, Taranaki Herald, 16 October 1875, p.3.

[114] Berridge-Hoby wedding party at Hoby residence, Beach Farm, Bell Block, Taranaki, Hand colourised and mounted albumen print, attributed to George Hoby, Puke Ariki Museum, courtesy of Philip Duke.

[115] Monday, October 14, 1878, Taranaki Herald, 14 October 1878, p.2.

[116] Death, Taranaki Herald, 15 May 1882, p.2.


~ by gluepot on Monday, April 11, 2011.

3 Responses to “>George Hoby, Part 6: Back to the Farm”

  1. Hi. I am writing a factual story about one William Ridley who came to Taranaki in 1874 with is wife and child. he went as a Farm Labourer of some kine, however i am stuck as to an employers name. I was wondering if your Mr George Hoby would of employed migrants on his farm, and have housing for them to live in. Or did he had a smaller farm that just his family worked?

    Hoping you can help, your story is great, if must of been very hard for the first settlers in Taranaki especailly during the maori Wars, when many of the families ended up in town from the Bell block area for protection.


  2. Thanks for your comment Rotosis. This article is a copy of the original posted over on my main Photo-Sleuth blog at blogspot. (I use the wordpress mirror blog as a backup.)

    I’m not sure about the status of the Hoby family as employers, but I suspect they would not have done so in the early years. Times were tough, and they had young sons who would no doubt have been pressed into duty on the farm. After the troubles, and their sojourn in Nelson, they may well have employed workers on the farm – I just don’t know. Perhaps the staff at Puke Ariki will be able to tell you whether that was likely.

    Regards, Brett

  3. Hi Brett

    Thanks for the quick response. Would you mind if i used your Mr Hoby as an employer? It would just make a nice touch to have a real person instead of a fictional character. Of course if you say yes then i will do a short note about him too, unless you would let me use some of your blog with your name attached? I would make sure that the employment took place aroudn 1876 when he got his jersey cow Jenny. It is a lovely story and some fiction to a degree would be nice.

    Claire (Rotosis)

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