The sitter was the second son of Thomas Hobart (1522/3-1560) of Plumstead, Norfolk, and his wife, Audrey (d. 1580), daughter of William Hare of Beeston, Norfolk. Hobart studied law and was called to the bar on 24 June 1584, becoming counsel for Great Yarmouth in October 1586 and under-steward to Lord Burghley in 1590. It may have been Burghley who secured Hobart's position as M.P. for St. Ives in 1589.
In April 1590, Hobart married Dorothy (1572-1641), daughter of Robert Bell of Beaupré Hall, Norfolk, the chief baron of the exchequer. The couple had twelve sons and four daughters, and lived in Norfolk, first at Intwood and later at Blickling Hall.
Hobart held a number of positions in government, including several terms in parliament for Great Yarmouth. He was made a serjeant-at-law in May 1603, and was knighted the following July. In 1605 Hobart was appointed attorney of the court of wards and liveries, and in 1606 attorney general. There was some controversy over Hobart's continuing to hold his seat in the lower house while also serving as assistant to the House of Lords in his capacity as attorney general, but he prevailed and maintained both posts. On 11 May 1611, Hobart was created a baronet, and in 1612 he was made chancellor to Henry Prince of Wales. In 1613 he was appointed chief justice of the common pleas, and he appears in the robes of the chief justice in the present portrait. He served for a number of years, and died on 29 December 1625.
Hobart was succeeded by his son John as second baronet. He was painted also by Daniel Mytens (Blickling Hall, Norfolk) and there is a reduced version of the present portrait, bust-length, in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London.