He was educated at Westminster School and at Trinity College, Cambridge.
On his return he threw himself into politics with great energy as an advanced Radical, and wrote various pamphlets, for one of which he was in 1819 imprisoned in Newgate. Also in that year, he spoke the following words: "I am a man chosen for the people, by the people. And, if elected, I will do no other business than that of the people." In 1820, he entered Parliament, sitting for Westminster.
Hobhouse is credited with the invention of the phrase His Majesty"s (Loyal) Opposition made in 1826 during a speech in the House of Commons.
After the Whigs gained power in 1830 he served under Lord Grey as Secretary at War between 1832 and 1833, as Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1833 and as First Commissioner of Woods and Forests in 1834. He was later President of the Board of Control under Lord Melbourne between 1835 and 1841 and under Lord John Russell between 1846 and 1852.
He was sworn of the Privy Council in 1832 and raised to the peerage as Baron Broughton, of Broughton-de-Gyfford in the County of Wiltshire, in 1851. Lord Broughton married Lady Julia, daughter of George Hay, 7th Marquess of Tweeddale, in 1828.
They had three daughters.
Lady Julia died from tuberculosis in April 1835. Lord Broughton survived her by over 30 years and died in June 1869, aged 82. He is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.
The large and distinctive monument lies on the main pathway to the central chapel.
His barony died with him, as he had no male heirs, whilst the baronetcy created for his father passed to Broughton"s nephew, Charles.
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