Hobart, John (1723–93), politician, 2nd earl of Buckinghamshire and lord lieutenant of Ireland, was born 17 August 1723, eldest surviving son of John Hobart, British MP and later 1st earl of Buckinghamshire, and his first wife Judith, daughter and coheir of Robert Britiffe. Educated at Westminster school and Christ's College, Cambridge, he became MP for Norwich (1747–56). Lord of the bedchamber to both George II (1756–60) and George III (1760–67), he was envoy to the court of St Petersburg (1762–5).
On 7 December 1776 he was appointed lord lieutenant of Ireland, and was sworn in (25 January 1777) with Richard Heron (qv) accompanying him as chief secretary. Insecure, and lacking any confidence in his own abilities, Hobart soon spread his nervousness through the entire administration, the effects exacerbated by Heron's own incompetence. He did secure the goodwill of the Irish Patriots, but at the expense of the more traditional Castle supporters; and Lord North, the prime minister, wanted him replaced on many occasions.
In 1779 the demand for free trade, backed by parliamentary Patriots and the Volunteers, threatened the stability of the country, and Hobart proved incapable of dealing with the crisis; even the king wanted him changed. When parliament passed a militia bill, he refused to put it into operation, citing expense, although really he feared American-style disturbances; thus he made possible the growth of the Volunteer companies. The administration soon lurched from one crisis to the next, and further pressure came in 1780 from two fronts: a commons' resolution against Poynings' act, which was defeated; and the proposal of an Irish mutiny bill, which was passed, despite opposition from London, with an amendment making renewal perpetual. Admitting his own inability to handle the office, Hobart was replaced in November 1780 by Frederick Howard (qv), earl of Carlisle. He returned to England where he retired from politics. A man of great charm, but of weak character, Hobart has been described as the ‘most discredited and disgraced lord lieutenant of the period 1777–1811’ (Malcomson, 376).
He died 3 September 1793 at Blickling, and was buried there under a mausoleum he had built in the woods. He married first (14 July 1761) Mary Anne (d. 1769), daughter and coheir of Sir Thomas Drury; they had two daughters. He then married (24 September 1770) Caroline, the daughter of William Conolly (brother of Thomas Conolly (qv), Irish MP and landowner) and his wife Anne, daughter of Thomas Wentworth, earl of Strafford. They had three sons who all died in infancy, and a daughter, Lady Amelia (Emily) Hobart, who married (1794) Robert Stewart (qv), later Viscount Castlereagh. Hobart was succeeded by his brother George as 3rd earl of Buckinghamshire, whose own son, Robert Hobart (qv), was chief secretary under two viceroys.