Edward Otter Hobson

Edward Otter Hobson

Edward Otter Hobson and Yvonne 1949

Edward Otter Hobson born 19.11.1916

I have looked at the residents section in Assam Directories 1938, 1942, 1946 and no mention of a Hobson. Only a Hodson.

We are in Banbury Oxfordshire on the M40 and you are always welcome to look at our records.

Best wishes, Denys

26/6/2021 00:49 Hi Remy cc Alan, Jenny,

Thanks for your latest. It is intriguing that we cannot find any record of EO Hobson from 1933 - and I concur with your view that he cannot have been working 'in tea' without being noted in some record. Thanks for the passport information of Edward Wollaston Hobson. Kind regards, Graham 07956 281348

24/6/2021 15:06 Hi Graham cc Jenny, Alan and Larry,

Yes, in 1949, Cappie Davies Davies (who seems to have been much older than E.O. Hobson according to the pics you sent) was holding a good position (tea-taster and PA to the General Manager) in The Assam Company, Nazira - whereas E.O. Hobson (and W.J.C. Charlier, and D.K. Macfarlane) were only Assistants. This makes me little doubtful about E.O. H. having worked ‘in tea’ from 1933 to 1939 - by 1949, after 16 years experience, he should be a manager, no longer an assistant.

I rechecked once more all the Cachar Tea Gardens details. E.O. Hobson is NOT mentioned in the Thacker’s 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, and 1940-41. He could have been ‘forgotten’ or ‘missed’ in one or two Thacker’s of this period, but not in all of them!  

Maybe he was involved in some other business? But, again, his name doesn’t show up in the Residents Lists of all these Thacker’s.

The “life-story” you wrote for E.O. H. has improved nicely, and hopefully it will improve much more. A good clue would be if it would be possible to determine the dates of the various polo tournaments/trophies. Also, if it would be possible to find some AVLH records for that period. The NBMR (equivalent of the AVLH for Darjeeling and the Dooars) used to give, in their Annual Journal, the full list of the officers and troopers, with the date they joined, their residence, etc. It woud be great to have the same for the AVLH.

I wonder what he was studying during the year 1949?

I presume you found his coming and going between the UK and India, and Africa, from Passenger (Shipping) Lists ?

I was hoping to find EOH’s name in the Assam Passport Application Files. I didn’t get him, but I did get his father, who applied for a Passport in 1926: SN No1340, File 1055-1058/1926: MR. E.W. HOBSON, BURTALL T.E., DEWAN P.O, DISTT - CACHAR; DOB: 1-8-1875; TEA PLANTER; BRITISH. This is consonant with the fact that the last mention of EW’s name is to be found in the Thacker’s 1925, but no longer in the next ones.

You may have found his (and his wife and son’s) name, in the Passenger (Shipping) Lists in 1926 ?

With my best wishes,  


24/6/2021 01:19 Dear Alan, cc Jenny, remy

Many thanks for your response and queries. Your observations are valid, where did Edward Otter Hobson 'work' during the period 1933-1939? It is a quandary isn't it?

I have revisited my original records and find that there is no evidence for the Surma Valley polo win in 1933 - I have no idea where I got that year from. Therefore I do not know what year this trophy was presented (it's hallmarked 1910 Sheffield Silver but that is irrelvant). So it  could be any year. Of course, it still leaves the question, where did Edward go in Assam during the years from 1933 on?

So, I will start researching Assam Valley Light Horse stuff in earnest.

I am very appreciative of the efforts of yourself and acquaintances. Kind regards, Graham

21/6/2021 04:49 Hi Graham and Remy

Re the dates 1933 and 1939, there is a small query. It is mentioned that in 1933 Hobson was part of the team that won the Surma Valley International Polo Trophy, which most likely meant that he was employed at some tea estate in Cachar district for six years. Then on return from UK, he was in Sibsagar district - where Assam Company, Nazira is located, winning a polo trophy there. I wonder who he was employed with in Cachar? Was he employed with the TarraporeTea Co. Or some other company ?  No doubt the Balmer Lawrie Trophy won by his team was an open event covering the South Bank tea gardens. Balmer Lawrie had most of their gardens in Upper Assam (e.g. Jokai and Jhanzie).

Quite a few expat tea planters moved around like 'musical chairs' pre-WW-2. it really surprises me that so many planters changed agency houses so frequently. Early days of tea I surmise. Best regards, Alan

20/6/2021 20:06 To: Remy, cc <alan.lane@virgin.net>, Jenny Devine <jennifer@jmidevine.me.uk>

This is absolutely marvellous stuff. I can't tell you how appreciative I am of your researching endeavours. I have copied in Jenny so that I can share all of the discoveries.

So, in 1949, Cappie Davis has a position in the Assam Tea Company management line, whilst EO Hobson has a position as an assistant. Like E.O. Hobson, Cappie Davies is NOT in the Thacker’s 1933, 1935, 1938, 1940-41, but I found his name in the Assam Directory 1949, p.209 (Residents List): “Davies C.A.P., Assam Co, Nazira”; and also p.115 (in the Tea Gardens list): “The Assam Co Ltd, Nazira: Davies C.A.P., tea taster and PA [Personal Assistant] to General Manager” [the GM was J.Q. Healy]; and, a good surprise, E.O. Hobson is on same p.115, in the list of the Assistants (22 people) - see attached. So, I would think it was at that time, in the late 1940s, that they became acquainted. Or had they met somewhere else, earlier? Maybe they served together during WW-II? or in the AVLH?

Thackers 1951-53 p.1843/pdf: “The Assam Co Ltd, Nazira: Davies C.A.P., tea taster and PA [Personal Assistant] to General Manager” [J.Q. Healy]; but E.O. Hobson is not there (he had left for Africa, you said). Thackers 1955: “The Assam Co, Pookrie division, 2101 acres, Manager Davies C.A.P.”(he is no longer tea-taster and PA).  His name is not in the Thacker’s 1960-61.

If EOH was an assistant with the Assam Co, I suppose he was located at the HQ premises at Nazira. It would then be likely that he never worked, and was therefore not recorded, at any individual tea estates/stations. And that is why we haven't found him in other records of the tea estates. Does this seem a reasonable conclusion?

I want to share with you 2 photographs.  

The first, about 1949, shows the newly-wed Edward Hobson and Yvonne, probably in Edinburgh. He was studying for a year there before they travelled to India that Summer to start their new lives together.

The second, about 1970, shows an older Cappie Davies visiting the Hobsons, including the young Jenny (my Wife), at their market garden in Tawstock in Devon. Sadly this was, I suspect, the last time Cappie would see Yvonne, she died of cancer the following year.

Remy, your records revealed that Cappie Davies’ initials were C.A.P. and that, I assume, is how he comes to be called Cappie!

Coincidentally, in the directory page you pasted, showing both Cappie Davis and EO Hobson at Assam Co Nazira, another assistant is W.J.C. Charlier. Of course this is the Bill Charlier whose 1950's polo photo showing Cappie was recently sent to me by Alan. So it seems that Cappie, Bill and Edward were all known to each other and spent a deal of their working and social lives together.

Chatting with my wife Jenny, EOH's daughter, about all of this has prompted me to generate a refined 'lifestory' of sorts, and I thought I would share it with you....hopefully you will appreciate it.



Born 19.11.1916 in Dewan, Cachar; Baptised 1.12.1916 Silchar; s/o Edward Wollaston Hobson and Georgina Muriel Fraser (of House of Fraser fame). Parents based in Burtoll tea estate (Tarrapore). His father [Edward Wollaston Hobson] worked in the tea business. [he is NOT in the Thacker’s Directory 1895; but he is in the Thacker’s 1898:Hobson EW, Ass[istan]t Tarrapore Tea Co Ltd” (“Assistant” means he was beginning his carreer in tea); in 1905, he was “manager Bundoo division, Tarrapore Tea Co Ltd”; in 1909 and 1912, he was “divisional superintendant”; in 1915 p.2388/pdf, 1920 p.2229/pdf, 1925 p.1898/pdf: he is mentioned as “Hobson EW, MLC, superintendant Burtoll division, Tarrapore Tea Co Ltd, PO Dewan, Cachar” (Railway Station: Silchar Cantonment); he is no longer mentioned after 1925.

Sometime afterwards after 1925 the family came back to UK. He applied for a Passport in 1926: SN No1340, File 1055-1058/1926: MR. E.W. HOBSON, BURTALL T.E., DEWAN P.O, DISTT - CACHAR; DOB: 1-8-1875; TEA PLANTER; BRITISH

EO Hobson schooled in England.

1933 Aged 17, EO Hobson was 'shipped out' by his Father to India to 'work in tea' as he had done before him. This wasn't his choice.

HEO is NOT mentioned in the Thacker’s 1928, 1931, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1938, 1940-41.  Not long after his arrival he was playing polo [Winners of Surma Valley Polo Association International Tournament 1933. 1. Capt. L.C.L Bayley; 2. E. Hobson; 3. H.D. Marshall (Captain); 4. A.J.G. Cresswell]  NO one of them in Thacker’s 1934, 1940-41, 1949;  

Thacker’s 1938 p.1758: Marshall H, asst Baradighi Tea Co Ltd, Jalpaiguri [Nor sure if he is H.D.]

Thacker’s 1940-41 p.1710&1584: Marshall H, asst Matelli div, Cachar & Dooars Tea Co Ltd, Jalpaiguri

Assam 1949 p.217: Marshall H, Kartick, Hatipotha

1939 He came back to England to visit his parents now living in a farm in Sussex [Folkestone?] but swiftly returned to India.

1939 back in Assam he was the recipient of 2 polo prize cups, the Sibsagor Polo Tournament [1939?], and the Balmer Lawrie Tournament. C.A.P. Davies features on one of the polo tournament cups in Jenny's possession. The full citation reads "winning team of Balmer Lawrie Tournament. 1. E.O. Hobson 2. D.K. Macfarlane 3. R. Ball  back C.A.P. Davies" [date?]

WW2 movements unknown but possibly serving in India privately

1942 As were so many in the Assam tea business, he was very likely involved in the Manipur road 'projects' - rebuilding and improving road between Dimapur and Imphal (at least) in support of the Burma retreat and eventual pushing back of the Japanese forces in 1944. Jenny has a memory of her dad telling her he had 'worked on the Burma Railway'. Now she recognises that this is unlikely and that he probably served on the road projects.

1946 Edward slipped a disc playing polo.  He needed surgery in London and was eventually shipped back.

1947 In the London hospital he meets Yvonne Ainsley, a nurse, his future wife. He is back in India by the end of the year.

1948 He is back in England and marries Yvonne. They have a year in Edinburgh whilst he studies there [one photo].

Back in India August 1949. End of the year Yvonne has baby Anthony. Edward is shown as 'staff' of “The Assam Co, Nazira” in the Assam Tea directory 1949:- ‘Assam Directory and Tea Areas Handbook’ 1949 p.214: “Hobson E.O., The Assam Co, Nazira”; he is also on p.115, in the list of the Assistants (22 people) of The Assam Co, Nazira.  He is NOT in the Thacker’s 1951-53, which is consonant with your mention that he left India  for Africa.

1951 Back in London

1952 Leaving for Durban, South Africa bound for Nigeria. Several trips back and forth in intervening years until last trip in 1959. Sadly their son Anthony died at some point, probably aged about 3 and in Nigeria.

1964 Jenny is born in Gloucestershire, the Hobson's had moved back to UK to become market gardeners.

I'll leave the story here for now. Kindest regards, Graham Devine

19/6/2021 05:19 Hi Graham cc Alan and Larry,

As you had written:- « When he [E.O. Hobson] started he made a great friend called Cappie Davies when he was 17 », I checked my Thacker’s, to see if I could find Cappie Davies.→details shifted above.

Hope these few details will be of some use. With my best wishes, Remy PJ: p.115 

17/06/2021 17:54 Hello,

This is a response to Larry, Alan, Remy, Malcolm, Leon, Derek & Bev, Leon, and anyone who fed into my request for information about Edward Otter Hobson. You’ve all produced far more than I could have imagined, and I thank you all for your efforts so far.

I am still looking over the details but so far, from all of the responses received, these are the major things I think we have determined:

Edward Otter Hobson (EOH) does not, so far, appear in any records you have researched aside from a 1949 directory showing him as a ‘resident’ in Assam company territory, Nazira.

There are records of Edward Wollaston Hobson (EOH’s father) having served in the Burtoll tea estate, which is a link to his son Edward’s birth/baptism record. Thanks to Remy for these, they have been added to our Ancestry records for Edward Wollaston.

The Assam company ‘became’ (or had a sister company) the Jhanzie, and then eventually the Jokai?

If Edward played for the Surma Valley polo club then it is likely he was around Cachar, therefore I should turn to searching for records in this area especially.

‘Cappie’ Davis, his great friend, was known of Alan(?), and we have a photo of him playing polo in the mid 50’s. Edward and Yvonne, with their little boy Tony, had left for Africa by then.

Whilst I was waiting for your good responses I did a Google search on 'Cappie Davis India Tea Planter'. A 'hit' right on the first page says his name appears briefly in "As Green as Grass", a book of memoirs by Emma Smith, about her life before, during and after WWII, some of which was spent around Nazira. Cappie seemed to have been a host and ‘fixer’ for the documentary film crew Emma was part of in Nazira shortly after the war. I've ordered a copy from Amazon, and downloaded an e-book version I can search on my tablet. Is this something that any of you fine people have come across yourselves?

Several of you recommended the tea agents records as a good source of detail. These appear to be available through the London Metropolitan Archives (https://search.lma.gov.uk/ Guildhall as was). A brief look at the online catalogue reveals that there are many indexed entries for all of the earlier companies subsumed into Inchcape. It will just take time, and visits to London.

It is still intriguing to me that EOH apparently spent a lot of time in India working ‘in tea’ between 1933-1951 and very little can be found about him in the ‘tea’ domain.

Larry, you suggested contacting Mike Nancollas regarding Assam Valley Light Horse matters. Is he approachable? Kindest regards to you all, Graham Devine            

Good morning Larry cc alan lane, Graham Devine, remy, Denys, Leon, "Derek & Bev Perry,

14/06/2021 14:55 There is a tonne of historic archive stuff crying out to be dug up by some PhD student doing a thesis. Or even a whole book. As well as operational Companies there were Agents & Secretaries (box wallahs in Calcutta ) pitching in some contribution to the paperwork.

best regards, Mal <malcolm.geary@btopenworld.com>

From: larrybrown To: alan lane, Graham Devine, remy, Denys, Leon, Derek & Bev Perry

Subject: Re: Edward Otter Hobson and family in India

14/6/ 2021 09:21 Hello Graham, Alan and all,

Attached is some reading -the Maps of Cachar etc were sent to me by Alan some years ago. At the right hand side of the Cachar map you will find Tarapur (Tarrapore), Dewan and Burtoll.

The pages of my 1949 Directory show the Jhanzie Company at Nazira (shown on the Jorhat map as Nazir) Edward is only listed in the Residents Section.

I visited Guildhall a few years back and some details of the records held are in the attachments -Jhanzie, the Assam Company and Tarrapore Tea Company. The records for the Assam Company are from 1837 -I had a look at some and there are detailed accounts and Minutes of the London and Indian Boards-fascinating stuff.

The Assam Co became the Jokai Assam Co in 1941 (I think). The 'other' Assam Co had as its Superintendent, in the late 1800's, James Davidson, cousin of Samuel, the founder of Sirocco Engineering Works in Belfast. One of their gardens, Labac was close to Dewan and the other mentioned gardens.

A fund of knowledge on the Assam and Surma Valley Light Horse is Mike Nancollas. If some other information on Edward is found I will contact Mike if it is relevant.

Some records of Jokai are held at the SE Asian Archives in Laundress Lane in Cambridge and there is a large book of Light Horse photos titled Franz Capp Collection. The Curator, Kevin Greenbank is very approachable. Best Wishes to all, Larry

11/06/2021 22:03 Alan, Thanks again for the update.

Thought you would like to know that the London Metropolitan Archives now hosts some of the old tea company records. As an example here's a link to the Inchcape collection.

https://search.lma.gov.uk/scripts/mwimain.dll/144/LMA_OPAC/web_detail/REFD+CLC~2FB~2F123?SESSIONSEARCH  If this works for you, look for the link at top right PDF LIST OF THIS COLLECTION. This is a nicely searchable catalogue of all entries in the collection. I haven't yet worked out how to retrieve things yet, but that will come. Kindest regards, Graham

11/06/2021 21:53 Hello Alan et All,

Thanks again for the loan of your collective brain power and provision of so much useful information.

Thank you for the photo showing Cappie Davis. It is pleasing to place a face to a name my Jenny has mentioned on and off over many years. I think she said she has some correspondence with Cappie's wife. I must look that out to see what other clues may be there.

Keep the info coming! Kindest regards, Graham Devine

10/06/2021 19:07 Hi Remy and Graham cc Larry, Denys, Derek, Leon,

My employers when I was in Assam were Kilburn & Co., 2 Fairlie Place, Calcutta. They were part of the Macneill & Barry company, part of Inchcape Group. Like many British companies, they are all now defunct and have no offices to where we could enquire. So that would be a dead end I am afraid. Many records of the tea Agency Houses were collected by the City of London Museum at the Guildhall, but the last time I tried to glean information from there (which I had previously done) they advised that these archives have been moved - to where I was not advised. Best regards, Alan

10/06/2021 18:59 Good afternoon all

Burtoll TE, part of the Tarrapore Tea Co in Cachar, was one of the gardens that my father was assistant manager of, but when I lived there I was at the Thailu outgarden of Dewan TE. The company gardens were: Burtoll TE - outgardens at Balladhun and Lydiacherra;  Dewan TE – outgarden at Thailu, Bundoo and Lallong; Labac TE - Tarrapore. 

You mention Cappie Davies – he was with the Assam Company at Nazira, but which garden I don’t know. I have attached a photo from Bill Charlier’s stories on Koi-Hai website showing a polo team that has Cappie Davies in it in the mid 50’s. The front row of seated polo players are, from the left, Bill Charlier, Cappie Davies, Tom Darby and Bill Dowsing.

Perhaps the Jhanzie Tea Company may have been a sister company to the Assam Company, but in my day in Assam the Jhanzie Tea Company was a sister company to the Jokai Tea Company under Balmer Lawrie agency.

Your wife’s name being Jennifer Margaret Isobel Hobson. My mother’s name was Isobel Elizabeth Hodson!

I do have Lalli Crow’s home address but not her e-mail – I don’t think she has one. I normally communicate with her via Babs Johnson (nee Meredith) who lives nearby in Sussex. As you may know, Lalli’s husband drowned in the Dehing River in Upper Assam. Best regards, Alan

11/06/2021 18:24 Larry,

Belated thanks for your efforts on this. Because of your kind efforts I now have response emails from others in the cc group.

Would any of your connections have an Assam Valley Light Horse history and/or records? I did some light research last year looking for any traces of Edward in some online Indian Army Lists for the war years. But I haven't found any reference to him so far. According to the inscription on his AVLH disbanding Rhino statue (the famous silver sculpture) he was a "Trooper". I don't believe he would be in the army lists as, I understand,  they normally contain officers only. I am hopeful of discovering  other sources.

Kind regards, Graham Devine

11/06/2021 21:23 Hello Remy cc All,

Belated thanks for the wealth of information you have provided. Fascinating stuff. I've added the 'employment' entries of Wollaston Hobson to our Ancestry family tree.

It is peculiar that there is so little information about Edward Otter Hobson. What did he do in India for all the years between 1933 and 1951 that defies documentation?

My wife Jenny, his daughter, says that he was always 'cagey' about his time in India. And he would not be drawn on his military involvement (volunteer or not) in the Assam Valley Light Horse during WWII. Maybe there is an interesting mystery to be unravelled? Kindest regards, Graham Devine

10/6/2021 18:15 Hello Graham

I had a look at all the Thacker’s I have in my laptop. I could find your wife’s grandfather, Edward Wollaston Hobson:- details shifted above.

Your wife’s father, Edward Otter Hobson, details shifted above.

Kilburn & Co were the agents for The Assam Co Ltd. Would they have something about Edward Otter Hobson in their archives? (Denys must have their contacts).

So sorry I could not find more about him. Hopefully, other friends will find more.

10/6/2021 17:48 Bless you Larry et al. for your efforts on this,

Your thoughts about Edward Otter Hobson being at a Cachar garden make sense, his parents were both living there when Edward was born. His baptism records clearly states “Abode of parents. Burtoll Tea Estate, Dewan, P.O. Cachar”. It would be conceivable then that, 17 years later, young Edward was sent off to India to the same area his parents had worked. Useful contacts of his parents may have helped.

Edward was usually called ‘Teddy’ by his acquaintances. When he started, he made a great friend called Cappie Davies when he was 17. My wife says that they both learned how to be tea planters together as if they were brothers.

I have just rediscovered a delightful piece of historic silverware, a baptism/birth chalice presented to Edward from the ‘Burtoll baboos’. So this definitely places his start in life geographically. The chalice has names of all the ’baboos’ engraved. I am not sure if these names would help anyone in their searches.

Jenny says that she will start looking through old papers to see if she can dig up any more clues.

Kindest regards, Graham Devine

10/6/2021 13:56 Hi Graham and All

Edward Hobson is proving to be a bit elusive as there is no mention of him in the 1930's Thackers Directories I have. Remy may have some more.

Edward's name is mentioned in the Residents Section on the 1949 Assam Tea Directory but  there is no record of him in any of the Jhanzie Tea Company gardens. The Jhanzie Co was a sister Company to the Assam Co. I have looked at records but there is no mention of Edward.

I would guess that he worked for a number of Companies -planters did move around and the fact that he was a member of the Surma Valley Cup team (the 1st Polo team in the world was formed at the Retreat Club in Silchar) may suggest that he was on a Cachar garden-I'll check this later.

In the meantime, Denys, if someone can have a look at the Residents Section in the Assam Tea Directories you have, there may be some information on Edward and his movements.

The late Michel Crow was an Assistant with the Jhanzie Co in Edward's time. His wife, Lalli, is still going strong and Alan has her contact details (I think!) I'll keep looking, Kind regards to all, Larry

9/6/2021 06:34 Graham, Thanks for your enquiry.  Some tea friends are copied in. Best wishes, Denys

8/6/2021 8:23 pm, graham@grahamdevine.me.uk

Dear Denys,

I recently posted on the Koi-Hai Facebook, seeking connections with Edward Otter Hobson and his family. You graciously suggested I contact you via email, posting the same Facebook entry to your email address, and here it is… I have lots of information about family before and after but nothing of the time Edward, his wife, Yvonne, and son, Anthony, were in India.

If it helps here are some extra snippets about Edward Hobson’s time in India: shifted up, in the ‘revised’ version  Kindest regards, Graham Devine

Hello all,

I'm a bit nervous as this is my first post into this group. Please be kind!

My lovely wife's dad, Edward Otter Hobson, was a tea planter in Assam in the 1930s and 40s. But my wife has lost all records connecting her with him, her Mother and a brother Anthony, who she never met (he died 3-4 years old). So, I am trying to be a lovely husband by researching my wife's families past in India. My wife's dad served in the Assam Valley Light Horse, and played polo in Nazira and Surma.

I would love to hear from anyone who can provide any connections to our family, no matter how tenuous. Kind regards, Graham Devine (husband of Jennifer Margaret Isobel Hobson).