Hobart-Hampden was born in Leicestershire. In 1835 he entered the Royal Navy and served as a midshipman on the coast of Brazil in the suppression of the slave trade, displaying much gallantry in the operations. In 1855 he took part, as captain of the "Driver," in the Baltic Expedition, and was actively engaged at Bomarsund and Åbo.
In 1862 he retired from the navy with the rank of Post-captain; but his love of adventure led him, during the American Civil War, to take the command of a blockade runner. He had the good fortune to run the blockade eighteen times, conveying war material to Charleston and returning with a cargo of cotton.
In 1867 Hobart entered the Turkish service, and was immediately nominated to the command of that fleet, with the rank of "Bahrie Limassi" (rear-admiral). In this capacity he performed splendid service in helping to suppress the insurrection in Crete, and was rewarded by the Sultan with the title of Pasha (1869). In 1874 Hobart, whose name had, on representations made by Greece, been removed from the British Navy List, was reinstated; his restoration did not, however, last long, for on the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish war he again entered Turkish service.
In command of the Ottoman squadron he completely dominated the Black Sea, blockading the ports of South Russia and the mouths of the Danube, and paralysing the action of the Russian fleet. On the conclusion of peace Hobart still remained in the Turkish service, and in 1881 was appointed Mushir, or marshal, being the first Christian to hold that high office.
His achievements as a blockade-runner, his blockade of Crete, and his handling of the Turkish fleet against the torpedo-lined coasts of Russia, showed him to be a daring, resourceful, and skilful commander, worthy to be ranked among the illustrious names of British naval heroes. He died at Milan on 19 June 1886.
See his Sketches of My Life (1886), which must, however, be used with caution, since it contains many proved inaccuracies.