Select Hill Miscellany

Here are some Hill stories and accounts over the years:

Early Hills in England

Mark Lower in his 1860 Dictionary of the Family Names of the United Kingdom had the following to say about the Hill surname. 

“Its medieval form is Atte-Hill.  The London directory has more than two hundred traders of this name, besides about one-eighth of that number in the pluralized form of Hills.  

The most distinguished family of this name, the Hills of Hawkstone (Viscount Hill), are descended from Hugh de la Hulle ('of the Hill') who held the estate of Court of Hill in the parish of Burford in Shropshire.  The Hills of Stallington in Staffordshire are descended from the family of De Monte of Castle Morton in Worcestershire and they bore that name until the 15th century when it was anglicized to Hyll."

Sir Robert Hill of Shilston and Sir Robert Hill of Spaxton

There may have been some genealogical confusion because there were two Sir Robert Hills in Devon at the same time, Sir Robert of Shilston and Sir Robert of Spaxton.  They could have been kinsmen, but they were different persons because they had different coats of arms:  

“Hill of Shilston: Argent, on a chevron between three water-bougets Sable a mullet Or;  
Hill of Spaxton: Gules, a saltire vair between four mullets Or.“  

Sir Robert Hill of Shilston, sometimes spelled Hylle and sometimes Hulle, was appointed Justice of the Common Pleas in 1409.  He was married to Isabel Wadham who predeceased him.  His son and heir Robert was twenty one at the time of his death in 1423.  Robert was MP for Devon in 1447.  

This Hill family was said to have been descended from an older Devon family of De la Hill who had come from a place called Hill in the manor of Kilminton near Axminster.   Sir Robert himself may have been born at Kilminton.

John Hill in Waterford

In 1783 the Penrose family had petitioned Parliament to establish the manufacture of flint glass in their Waterford Glass House.  They were successful in their petition but they knew nothing about the making of glass. 

John Hill of Stourbridge in Worcestershire did.  In 1785 it was reported that “Mr. John Hill, a great glass manufacturer of Stourbridge, had gone to Waterford and taken with him the best set of workmen he could get in the county of Worcester.”  John Hill was brought in as a compounder, the only man who knew the secret of mixing the glass materials.  It was also Hill’s decision to polish the glass after cutting, therefore removing the “frosted” appearance, which was later to become one of Waterford’s key signatures.

John Hill did not stay long in Waterford.  Three years after coming to Ireland he was falsely accused of some act by one of the Penrose family and took the affair so much to heart that he left Waterford forever.  Before he left he passed on his formula for glass compounding to the clerk Jonathan Gatchell in gratitude for his sympathy and understanding in the crisis.  So Jonathan left his clerk’s desk and became the compounder.

Internal troubles notwithstanding, the renown of Waterford cut glass grew and by 1788 the glass had entered the export market to much acclaim

Early Hills in Virginia

The Virginia Company had voted a patent in November 1621 to Nathaniel Basse and his associates to send 100 settlers to Virginia.  By October 1622 Basse was in Virginia with his party.  They located in the Warriscoyak area on the south side of the James river. 

The settlement was named Basse's Choice and was populated by a small number of families.   In the Census of the Living taken in February 1623, the following Hills were listed there:  John Hill, Edward Hill and his wife Hannah, Elizabeth Hill, William Hill and his wife Elizabeth, and Thomas Hill and his wife Frances.  

Edward Hill was living at Basse's Choice at the time of the Good Friday Massacre in 1623.  He survived and escaped with William and Thomas Hill to Elizabeth City and is known to have held a land grant of one hundred acres there.  He may have been wounded on that day, as he was listed as dying in Elizabeth City in May 1624.  However, his line continued.   Edward II settled in the Shirley hundred; and Edward IV built his home Shirley (which still stands) on the northern shore of the James river above Williamsburg. 

The other Hills may or may not have been related.   William Hill was recorded as also surviving the Indian Massacre and living in Elizabeth City in 1623.  There has been some speculation of a connection between these early Hills and Edward Bennett of Somerset who was instrumental in early colonies in Virginia.  If so, this would suggest that the Hills hailed from Somerset.

A Hill Family in Maryland

Five Hills were listed in the first U.S. census of 1790 in St. Mary's county, Maryland: 

  • William Hill (married, four sons, one daughter),  
  • Ignatius Hill (married, three sons, six daughters),   
  • Thomas Hill (married, three sons, one daughter),   
  • Richard Hill (married, two sons, three daughters),  
  • Henry Hill (married, one son),   
  • and George Hill (married, one son, three daughters).   
George was the father of George D. (who was born around 1805).  He was a farmer and his wife Catherine was a spinner.  

William Giles Hill was born on their family farm of Bushwood.  When he died, the family farm in St. Mary's went to his son, Mortimer.   

According to the family accounts, Mortimer considered himself to be the “Lord of the Manor” and too good to work any longer.  He made his younger siblings work the fields along with the "colored" farmhand that lived with his family on the farm.   

William, disgusted with his brother's attitude, felt that if he was going to be treated like hired help then he wouldn't spend any of his time with the "Lord of the Manor."  When he reached legal age he left the farm and moved to Washington D.C. where he found work

The Nathaniel Hill Brick House

The Brick House was built in 1768 in the town of Montgomery in Orange county, New York by Nathaniel Hill, one of the earliest settlers in that part of the Hudson valley.  Nathaniel had emigrated from Ireland around 1725 and was listed in New York in Captain Bayard's militia of 1738.  He died in the house in 1780.  

Hill had originally built his home in the nearby town of Crawford.  But he only lived there for two years before leaving it to his son James who made Applejack brandy there.  

The Brick House was passed down through seven generations.  From Nathaniel Hill to:  

  • Captain Peter Hill (1752-1795)  
  • Nathaniel Peter Hill (1781-1841)  
  • Augustus Hill (1838-1903)   
  • Charles Borland Hill (868–1959)  
  • C.B. Hill, Jr. (born in 1901) 
  • and C.B. Hill III (born in 1931).  
The house was donated by C.B. Hill, Jr. to Orange county in 1975 by C.B. Hill Jr. and was opened as a museum three years later.  Much of the original design and appointments, including some Chippendale furniture pieces, remain.

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