Hobson, Florence Fulton (1881–1978), architect, was born 11 February 1881 at Monasterevin, Co. Kildare, the daughter of Benjamin Hobson, grocer, and Mary Ann Hobson (née Bulmer), a women's rights campaigner and amateur archaeologist. Her family moved to Belfast shortly after her birth. Her brother was the noted nationalist and writer Bulmer Hobson (qv), born at Holywood, Co. Down.
Educated at the Friends' School, Lisburn, Florence attended Belfast College of Art, where she decided that she wanted to be an architect. However, at the time there were no women with professional architects’ qualifications in Ireland, Scotland, or Wales, though two women had been articled in England. She was subsequently articled to James S. J. Phillips, a leading methodist church architect in Belfast and an associate member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (ARIBA). This was possibly some time between 1897 and 1905, when Phillips was in partnership with his father. After her apprenticeship Hobson moved to London and gained experience as an assistant in the Old Bond Street office of E. Guy Dauber and J. S. Gibson.
Hobson returned to Belfast when she was appointed an assistant to the royal commission on health and housing (1905). She spent the next fifteen years reporting for the commission and travelled to Germany and Switzerland to see their approach to housing problems. On 20 March 1911 she became the first woman to become a licentiate of the Royal Institute of British Architects. The licentiate class enabled architects who had not taken the exams for associate membership (she had no degree) to register with RIBA. Eligibility for licentiate membership required the applicant to have been engaged as a principal in the practice of architecture for five successive years or to have been engaged in the study and practice of architecture for not less than ten years. Hobson was one of the first female architects to qualify and practise in Ireland at the beginning of the twentieth century. In terms of her work, she was known for designing small houses, particularly in Co. Down. Her address in 1926 is recorded as Aiteanuach, Crawfordsburn, Co. Down, and the list of works attributed to her at this time includes three houses at Carnalea, Co. Down (1914, 1921) and various alterations. During her later years she lived at Firenze, Crawfordsburn, a house of her own design. An examination of the lists of retired architects published by RIBA shows that she retired in 1937. Little is known of her general interests, though she was a member of the Belfast Naturalists’ Field Club and presented a lecture on town planning to them in the library at Royal Avenue in 1913. She wrote various newspaper articles, including two in The Queen.
A kind, generous person, on 1 March 1948 Hobson married William Forbes Patterson , aged fifty-five, author and divorcé; she was then aged sixty-seven, and her mother had died the previous year. The couple lived at Carnalea, Crawfordsburn, Co. Down. Florence provided the main source of income, running, after her retirement, tea-rooms and a craft shop at Portrush, and then at Dunluce, Co. Antrim. Neither business was particularly successful. She died 1 November 1978 at 23 Ballymullan Road, Crawfordsburn, Co. Down, aged ninety-six, having been predeceased by her husband.