William and Thomas Lobb
Plant hunters who travelled the world
William, 1864 & Thomas, 1894
The brothers William and Thomas Lobb were born in Cornwall, and lived in Egloshayle near to Bodmin in the early part of their life, along with three brothers, two sisters and their parents, Jane and John. Their father was first an estate carpenter at Pencarrow, then at Carclew House near Falmouth, which was the residence of Charles Lemon.
Both William and his brother Thomas worked in the stove-houses at Carclew - keeping the glass-houses warm - and developed an interest in botany. From 1830, Thomas (born 1817) began work as a gardener for the Veitch family at Killerton House, and moved with them to Exeter in 1832 when they established the nursery there. Having gained considerable knowledge of plants, William (the elder brother, born in 1809), worked for several local wealthy families, in west Cornwall until, around 1840, he joined his brother Thomas working for the Veitch Nurseries.
Over the next twenty years, both brothers spent the majority of their time abroad, identifying and collecting species of plants from around the world; William travelled in south and north America, and Thomas spent time in the far east, visiting around ten different countries, including Java, India, the Phillipines, Burma and Nepal. Between them, they introduced many varieties which are still grown and appreciated by gardeners today, including the distinctive Monkey Puzzle tree (from Chile) and the Wellingtonia redwood (native to North America), both introduced by William, and many varieties of orchid and rhododendron from Asia, introduced by Thomas.
William Lobb's contract to work for Veitch's nurseries expired in 1858, though at this time he was already in ill health and staying on the west coast. He remained in North America, where he died, alone, in San Francisco in May 1864. Thomas ceased working for Veitch's around 1860, and retired to Devoran where he lived at Stanley Cottage until his death in 1894.