Descended from Sir Rowland Hill of penny post fame? Lots of people claim this, but how many are true?
The following is an amended version of a small piece I wrote on the Hill messageboard on ancestry.co.uk last year. Although ancestry claim to 'handle' the copyright of anything submitted to their site I assert my own author's copyright to share what I wrote on here, and in any case I have made a fair few edits and updates to the original piece especially for my familytreecircle friends.
Many people with the surname Hill have made claims over the years that they are decended from Sir Rowland Hill who invented the penny post, in fact it was practically an obsession for anyone named Hill to make this claim at one point, and many more claims have been made since the advent and rise of online genealogy but how could they all possibly be true? As one of my closest friends happens to be a Hill whose family make this claim I decided to investigate by going back to basic genealogical principles.
Sir Rowland Hill (b 3rd Dec 1795 Kidderminster d 1879 Hampstead aged 83) and Lady Caroline's children were:
Louisa Mary Hill bapt 26/4/1829 Tottenham
Eleanor Caroline Hill bapt 29/6/1831 Tottenham
Pearson Hill bapt 6/6/1832 Tottenham and
Clara Pearson Hill bapt 26/6/1835 Tottenham.
Pearson seems to be Sir Rowland's only son.
Pearson married an Irish lady called Jane D'Esterre at some point (around 1865? and possibly in Ireland?) and had the following children:
Rowland Torrens Hill b Dec Q 1866 Kensington bapt 17/11/1866 Paddington
Norcott D'Esterre Rowland Hill b Jun Q 1868 Kesington bapt 25/4/1868 Paddington
Jane Torrens Evelyn Hill b Mar Q 1870 Kensington bapt 30/3/1870 Cranley Gardens
Caroline Marion Annie Pearson Hill bapt 8/3/1871 Cranley Gardens
Robert D'Esterre Hill b Sep Q 1874 Hampstead bapt 18/4/1877 Belsize Park and
Henry Warburton Hill b Mar Q 1877 Hampstead bapt 18/4/1877 Belsize Park
Pearson died Dec Q 1898 in Kensington aged 66.
So four sons of Pearson.
The eldest, Rowland Torrens Hill is an unmarried Barrister on the 1891 census. He died in Jun Q 1893 in Kensington aged just 26, according to the Probate calender his estate of just over £247 went to his father, which effectively rules out any real chance that he left issue.
The second son, Norcott D'Esterre Rowland Hill, died in Sep Q 1871 in Kensington aged 3. He was buried on 4 Aug 1871 in Highgate Cemetery.
The third son, Robert D'Esterre Hill, has been impossible to trace, I have found no marriage or death for him at all. I wonder if he may have died relatively young and his death went unregistered. Or else he may have emigrated.
And the youngest son, Henry Warburton Hill, married Ellinor Janet Marcia Walters (aged 20) on 29th April 1919, when he was 42! Elinor died in Jan 1991 in New Forest (the death record says she was born 14th June 1899). There is an incoming passenger list from 30th March 1929 showing Henry and Elinor returning to the Uk from la Plata, but no mention of children at that date. Looking at births on the BMD after that date for Hill's with mother's maiden name Walters yields no obvious children. However since writing this piece originally it has been pointed out to me that Henry Warburton Hill's obituary in the Times mentions that he leaves a son and daughter but not their details, another correspondent told me they thought the two children were called Rowland G P Hill and Joan Hill, but not how they knew that, and then a third told me they had in their possession a old crossword solving dictionary that was originally written by Henry Warburton Hill and that later editions were reedited by his son Rowland G P Hill, which proved the previous correspondant's info and made me realise that anything can become a genealogical source! Apparently according to the books 'about the authors' bit, Rowland G P Hill now lives in Finland.
So in summary I have no proof that any of Sir Rowland's four grandsons could have left any issue in the UK. Two died too young and unmarried, one vanished from the records quite young and I therefore presume is an infant mortality, and the fourth appears to have only one male-line descendant remaining, who now lives in Finland.
So if you or you family are claiming to be descended from Sir Rowland Hill of penny post fame and you are not Mr Rowland G P Hill of Finland who edits a crossword solving dictionary, then chances are your research is incorrect or the info you were given by someone else is wrong.
Having said that if you can prove otherwise I'd be pleased to recieved copies of your proof (certificates, censuses or anything original) or the references for those sources so as to find them myself, and then I will amend this piece to reflect the new info.