Hill Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Hill Meaning
Hill is mainly a locational surname, from the Old English hyll
and describing one who lives by the hill. An alternative
the medieval personal name Hille (short for Hilary or
Hildebrand), has
also been suggested. This may be true in
a few cases. The patronymic Hills
surname (son of) also exists.

Hill Resources on

Select Hill Ancestry

England. Hill has been a west country name, in a line
from the southwest running north to Lancashire. The name is less
to be
found in areas where there are few hills (such as East Anglia) or where
are called by different names (such as the downs in Sussex and Kent).

The first
record of Hill as a surname was a Simon Hille in Worcestershire in
These Hills claimed a Norman origin back to 1100 and became an
medieval family. Droitwich records in Worcestershire showed a
William atte Hille
in 1379. Early
were also in Shropshire and Staffordshire.

Another old Hill family, dating from the early 1300’s, came from
Kilminton near Axminster in Devon. Sir Robert Hill of
Justice of the Common Pleas in 1409. He
was in possession of Shilston Manor by that time, which his descendants
until 1614. The family was described as
follows in a 1540 document:

“Hill, a gentleman, lives in Modbury parish – this
name by a lawyer and judge that left unto his heirs 300 marks of land.”

this family are thought to have come:

  • Thomas Hill, a grocer who was Lord Mayor
    of London in 1484
  • Sir Moses Hill, who ventured to Ireland in the 1590’s
  • and
    Richard Hill, a London merchant in the 1640’s.

The Hill (originally Hull) family
at Burford in Shropshire may date from the 14th century.
Rowland Hill found fame and fortune in London in the early 16th
and became the first Protestant Lord Mayor of London in 1549.
From him
came the Hill family of Hawkestone House and Park in Shropshire.

Waldron and
Thomas Hill were successful glassmakers in Stourbridge,
During the 1780’s Waldron’s son Thomas was instrumental in setting up a
ironworks at Blaenavon in south Wales, at the time the largest
plant in the world. Around the same time John Hill moved to
he established the world-renowned Waterford glassworks.

The surname Hill was brought to Ireland by Sir Moses
who served under the Earl of Essex in suppressing Irish revolts in the
The town of Hillsborough in county Down was named after his family who
a strong presence in the area.

America. William Hill from Devon
arrived in Boston
harbor on the William & Francis
in 1632; while William Hills from Essex came in the same year on the Lion.
Both later settled in Connecticut, William Hill in Fairfield and
Hills one of the founders of Hartford.

There were early Hills from Somerset at
Jamestown in Virginia. Edward and
William Hill arrived there in 1621 and survived the Indian massacre two
later. Edward Hill was living at
Basse’s Choice at that time. The fourth Edward Hill built his home Shirley on the
northern shore of the James river above Williamsburg.

It still stands today.

Hill family from the west country was Catholic and sought refuge in
Baltimore’s Maryland. Clement Hill
settled there in
St. Mary’s county, Maryland
in 1662.
line of this family under Isaac Hill moved to
northern Georgia and the town of Hilsboro, named after him. From his brother John came Senator Benjamin
Harvey Hill, a silver-tongued orator who was one of the leaders of the
Confederacy during the Civil War.

Irish Hills produced some American Hill

  • Nathaniel Hill came from
    Ulster around 1725 and settled in New York state. His
    house in Orange county, the Brick House, remained with
    the family until 1975 and is now a
    museum. A great grandson, also named
    migrated to Colorado in 1865 and became its Senator in 1879.
  • Abram Hill from Derry also came to New York,
    around 1764. From his line came David
    Hill, Governor of New York in 1885.

Australia. William Hill
was transported to Australia as a convict in 1797 on a life
sentence. He was, however, the first of what became a very
prominent Victorian family in NSW. One son George, who started
out like his father as a butcher, later entered politics and became a
horseracing patron. Another son Richard also began as a butcher
and later succeeded as a farmer and horticulturist.


Hill Miscellany

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.

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
(‘of the Hill’) who held the estate of Court of Hill in the parish of
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
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
Shilston and Sir Robert of Spaxton.  They
could have been kinsmen, but they were different persons because they
different coats
of arms:

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.“

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
was twenty one at the time of his death in 1423.  Robert
MP for Devon in 1447.

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

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
later to become one of Waterford’s key signatures.

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
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.

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.

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
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.

Hills may or may not have been related.
William Hill was recorded as also surviving the Indian Massacre
living in Elizabeth City in 1623.  There
has been some speculation of a connection between these early Hills and
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
  • Ignatius Hill (married, three
    sons, six daughters),
  • Thomas
    Hill (married,
    three sons, one daughter),
  • Richard
    (married, two sons, three daughters),
  • Henry
    Hill (married, one son),
  • and
    George Hill
    (married, one son, three daughters).

was the father of George D. (who was born around 1805).
He was a farmer and his wife Catherine was a

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.

to the family accounts, Mortimer considered himself to be the “Lord of
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
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
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.

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

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

  • Captain
    Peter Hill (1752-1795)
  • Nathaniel
    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).

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.



Hill Names

  • Sir Rowland Hill was the first Protestant Lord Mayor of London.
  • Fanny Hill was the first erotic
    novel, written by John Cleland in 1748.
  • Rowland Hill was the Victorian
    postal reformer who pioneered the postage stamp.
  • James Hill was a 19th
    century American railroad tycoon, known as the “Empire Builder.”
  • William Hill founded William Hill, one of the UK’s largest firms of bookmakers, in 1934. 
  • Benny Hill was a popular
    British TV comic.
  • Faith Hill is an
    American country singer.

Select Hill Numbers Today

  • 146,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Hampshire)
  • 156,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 89,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Hill and Like Surnames

These names are locational, describing someone who lived in those medieval times by the side of a bank, or by a barn or a lane or a shaw (which means a wood) or a wood and so forth.  Both the oak tree and the ash tree have in fact provided locational surnames – Oakes and Nash (from atten Ash).  Here are some of these locational surnames that you can check out.



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