HUBBACK, Theodore Rathbone   [1872-1944]

Theodore Rathbone Hubback was a civil engineer who spent much time in his youth as an avid hunter and later became a prime mover for nature conservation in his adopted home of Malaya.

He was born in Liverpool on 12th December 1872, the second son of Liverpool corn merchant Joseph Hubback and his wife Georgina (née Benison), their home at the time being at 6 Sandon Terrace L1. (Sandon Terrace was demolished c.1907 to provide a playground for the Liverpool Institute ).The Hubbacks had some standing in the city, Joseph Hubback serving as mayor from 1869-70, and Orchard’s Liverpool Legion of Honour noted that Georgina was involved in the administration of parish relief and was president of the Liverpool Needlework Guild which supplied poor people with clothing. The family moved to West Kirby but after the death of Joseph in 1882 returned to city, living at 22 Falkner Square L8. He had three brothers; Arthur was a civil engineer and soldier, Joseph was a civil engineer and rubber broker, and George who became a Church of England bishop.

Theodore’s older brother Arthur had moved to Malaya in 1895 to work as an architect and after attended University College Liverpool, he followed him to Selangor. He followed in his brother’s footsteps working as a civil engineer, also spending some time as a rubber planter. He soon acquired a reputation as a formidable big game hunter but later his interests widened to matters of conservation. He wrote a number of books including Elephant and Seladang Hunting In The Federated Malay States [1905] ( a seladang is a type of wild bison) and the elegantly titled Ten Thousand Miles to Alaska for Moose and Sheep. He also discovered a Malayan species of gaur ( a bovine creature) Bos Gaurus Hubbacki which is named after him.

In the 1930s he began to seek support from the sultans of Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan to provide an area of land in the three states for the creation of a protected area. His efforts resulted in the establishment of the King George V National Park in 1938, renamed Taman Negara after independence. There is a short video on facebook which recounts his role in the founding of the park.

He was in Malaya when the Japanese invaded in 1941. There is no clear evidence of precisely how he died, the date most often cited is 1944 but in some cases 1942 is given. It seems likely that he spent his final years evading the Japanese.

Theodore Hubback was also an accomplished cricketer. A wicket-keeper, he played a couple of times for Lancashire second XI in June 1892 then made his debut in the first XI against Durham on 8 July, playing a total of four matches. He continued to play in Malaya, appearing for the Straits Settlement between 1897 and 1909.



22 Falkner Square L8

Hubback's home in the early 1890s until he moved to Malaya

6 Sandon Terrace L1

The Hubback home at the time of Theodore's birth. The terrace was demolished c.1907 to make way for a playground for the Liverpool Institute.


There is a reasonable outline of Hubback's life on Wikipedia. There is also some information on sites concerning the work of his brother Arthur, and