Hobhouse started his political career as a radical pamphleteer which earned him a prison sentence in Newgate Prison. The following year in 1820 he was elected to Parliament as Whig MP for Westminster, repesenting the constituency until 1833 and later serving as MP for Nottingham 1834-47 and Harwich 1848-51. After the Whigs gained power in 1830 he served in a number of posts including Secretary at War and President of the Board of Control, a post he returned to in 1846 under Lord John Russell. In 1851 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Broughton. Hobhouse was a friend of Lord Byron and fresh from university accompanied Byron on his travels in Greece and Turkey. Byron dedicated his poem Childe Harold to him.