A J Hubbard

A background of my grandfather, Arthur John Hubbard and his family, by John Waddington Phillips Hubbard (First cousin of JFH)

Arthur's mother Emma (nee Evans) came from a very talented family:

Sir John Evans

(brother)-- M.D. of the Dickinson Paper Mills at Apsley, Chairman Of
Hertfordshire County Council, antiquarian & numismatist

Sebastian Evans

(brother) poet cf Penguin Book of Victorian Verse

Anne Evans 

(sister) poet &musician.

Their father The Reverend Arthur Benoni Evans was Headmaster of Market Bosworth School in Leicestershire. Her nephew Sir Arthur Evans is the best known of the family  as the archaeologist / excavator of Knossos in Crete. Her niece, Dame Joan Evans, was a distinguished historian esp. of French art/architecture. Details of most of these may be found in The Dictionary of National Biography.

His father John Waddington Hubbard came from a local Leicestershire family, slightly lower in the social scale shall we say. This disparity coloured his view of life.

A few more facts.

Arthur was born in 1856, educated at University College School in North  London and at Durham University & qualified as a medical practitioner with  the degree of Doctor of Medicine.

He was brought up as an agnostic but in young adulthood became a Christian after reading John's Gospel. 

He travelled  fairly extensively to the Balkans (like his better-known cousin Arthur Evans) and to Iceland. 

He met his future wife at Hemel Hempstead and was in general practice there with a surgery in the Marlowes. Incidentally, when my wife Nancy was working at Hemel Hempstead hospital  during the 1970's, she had an elderly female patient who remembered old Doctor Hubbard from her very early childhood.

From Hemel Hempstead he went to general practice in Notting Hill from which he retired at a relatively early age in 1910. My Father [Jack, A.J.H's son] could never understand why A.J.H. should have retired when he had a young family to bring up. He commented perhaps his heart never was fully in medicine. 


He did locum jobs during the First World War but  his interests seem mainly to have been study & writing. Study, it has always seemed to me, of a somewhat arcane nature. Neolithic Dewponds and Cattleways have never struck me as being of major interest. He was probably always a bit of a dreamer and Peter Blobbs is doubtless one example of this. 

His financial investments seem not to have been very successful. He lost money in mining companies.

Despite all this he was obviously a charming & likeable person. His wife idolised him and my Mother thought highly of him. 

Arthur's connection with and interest in Iceland and China. 

So far as I am aware AJH's interest in Iceland was as an scientifically-minded traveller. I do not know of any other circumstance.

So far as I am aware AJH never travelled to China. His interest was, I think, in the historical/philosophical factors which cause civilisations to grow, flourish & then decline. China would have been of interest to him because of the longevity of its civilisation. I believe that AJH thought that the Chinese reverence for ancestors was an important factor here.

Is there anything in The fate of Empires about this?

Charlotte (wife of AJH) v. George (brother of AJH)

I have drawn these conclusions and  details from Victorian Hangover by Frances Roper [daughter of AJH] and also my Father's (son of AJH) reminiscences and various other material.

Given then that there was some tension in Arthur between the Evans and Hubbard side it will have been almost certain that Charlotte would have been aware
of this tension and ambivalence and it would seem to be likely that it would have affected her even more strongly than it affected Arthur.

After all, he did not repudiate the Evans side. He was proud of it in many ways. Any family artefacts he received from the Evans side were carefully
noted as to date of receipt and so on. 

To Charlotte, however, I surmise the whole Evans ethos was suspect, if not repugnant. They were sophisticated, snobby, metropolitan, worldly & wealthy. They were Liberal in politics whereas her husband was archly Conservative. Her brother-in-law, no doubt, in her eyes displayed these same detestable characteristics: he was a successful architect, wealthy & metropolitan.

Early in 1935 AJH was a sick man. He died in the February, shortly after (JWH) was born. George motored from London to the depths of the Gloucestershire countryside to see him. One can almost hear Charlotte's reaction: Arthur is a dying man. I am not going to have him unsettled by that so-called brother of his. He may have come two hundred miles in his posh car but he is not coming over my threshold: and he didn't. 

George himself died a year or two later.


There is also one rather strange circumstance relating to Arthur's death. Soon after their marriage my Father had to return to Nigeria to complete his contract with C.M.S. He was out there on his own. There was no telephonic link with U.K. and letters could take from 6-8 weeks to reach him. He was unaware of Arthur's last illness. On one particular day he had a strange sense of foreboding & dread. He learned some time later that that was the very day of  his father's death.

AJH & George

I mention above why I thought Charlotte would have strongly disapproved of brother-in-law George, but it should not be thought that AJH and George did not get on together.

Indeed they collaborated on a book entitled "Neolithic Dewponds & Cattle Ways." [1905] I forget what the interest was in old drovers' paths across Southern England. Dewponds, some of which still exist on the South Downs in Sussex, fascinated them. Their thesis was that Stone-Age technology could somehow reclaim the deserts. Briefly Neolithic man built large earthworks on the Downs, e.g. at Cissbury Ring near Worthing, as a means of defence but, of course, required drinking water. This was provided by means of dewponds. A hollow was dug in the ground & lined firstly with straw & then with impermeable clay. Overnight dew would condense in this hollow forming a pool of drinkable water. 

They felt that this could be adapted to, say, the Sahara and thus to reclaim it as fertile ground.

I think we can see why AJH was a bit of a dreamer.

In 1927 the two brothers camped out on the Downs to research dewponds. They were accompanied by Frances Roper. A local press report describes the scene. I am not quite sure whether the reporter was genuinely interested in two elderly gents following a somewhat arcane hobby or whether the article was written tongue-in-cheek.

Be that as it may, AJH & George were clearly close as brothers.

This, however, would cut no ice with Charlotte.

The Fate of Empires

AJH wrote a book called The Fate of Empires [1913].  It was published by Longmans Green & Co (a well-known firm of publishers). Incidentally there were family connections between the Evans and the Longmans.

AJH had to finance the publication himself. I forget to what extent China as a civilisation features in the book, but, as I understand it,  AJH was fascinated by the fact that Chinese civilisation had lasted two millennia or more. 

What was its secret?

I understand that he put it down to Chinese reverence for their ancestors.

In the Commandments, the Children of Israel had been promised a lengthy sojourn in the Promised Land provided that they respected their parents. By extension, as I understand it, AJH believed that respect and reverence for ancestors was a condition for a long lasting society.

(Cousin John [J.W.P.H.] carried out the above research.)

Arthur's pseudonym

Arthur's pseudonym Peter Blobbs.