Emily Hobhouse was born in 1860 at St Ive near Liskeard. She was a descendant of Bishop Trelawney. Emily received a sparse education at home and remained in Cornwall throughout her early life, nursing her father until his death in 1895.
After two years spent in Minnesota, campaigning against the severe drinking problems among the Cornish miners in the mining towns there, she became engaged to John Carr Jackson and moved to Mexico where she bought a ranch. However, her engagement was eventually broken off and she had to return to England after her money was lost in speculation.
At the start of the Boer War in 1899, Emily joined the South African Conciliation Committee. She soon became aware of the desperate state of many of the Boer women, who were suffering as a result of the military action. In 1900 she formed a relief fund for these women and their children. Many of her efforts to alleviate this suffering were thwarted by the military authorities and it was only after the conflict was over that she felt she was really able to help the vanquished families by instigating training in occupations where they could be self-supporting and so on.
Over twenty years later the South African people sent £2,300 to Emily Hobhouse in recognition of her assistance during the Boer War which enabled her to purchase a small house in St Ives. She died in London in 1926.
Emily Hobhouse was also an opponent of British involvement in the First World War, once again campaigning to help women and children affected by the conflict. She was able to raise money to feed starving families for a year after the end of the war.