Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Hob’lers or Hovellers.

E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Hob’lers or Hovellers.
Men who keep a light nag that they may give instant information of threatened invasion, or ugly customers at sea. (Old French, hober, to move up and down; our hobby, q.v.) In mediæval times hoblers were like the German uhlands. Their duties were to reconnoitre, to carry to intelligence, to harass stragglers, to act as spies, to intercept convoys, and to pursue fugitives. Spelman derives the word from hobby.   1
        “Hobblers were another description of cavalry more lightly armed, and taken from the class of men rated at 15 pounds and upwards.”—Lingard: History of England, vol. iv. chap. ii. p. 116.
        “Sentinels who kept watch at beacons in the Isle of Wight, and ran to the governor when they had any intelligence to communicate, were called hoblers.”—MS. Lansd. (1033).



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