Wills Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire

The Marquess of Downshire
First Lord of Trade
In office
9 September 1763 – 20 July 1765
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterGeorge Grenville
Preceded byThe Earl of Shelburne
Succeeded byThe Earl of Dartmouth
In office
16 August – December 1766
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterThe Earl of Chatham
Preceded byThe Earl of Dartmouth
Succeeded byThe Viscount Clare
In office
20 January 1768 – 31 August 1772
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterThe Earl of Chatham
The Duke of Grafton
Lord North
Preceded byThe Viscount Clare
Succeeded byThe Earl of Dartmouth
Secretary of State for the Colonies
In office
27 February 1768 – 27 August 1772
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterThe Earl of Chatham
The Duke of Grafton
Lord North
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byThe Earl of Dartmouth
Secretary of State for the Southern Department
In office
24 November 1779 – 27 March 1782
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterLord North
Preceded byThe Viscount Weymouth
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Personal details
Born(1718-05-30)30 May 1718
Fairford, Gloucestershire
Died7 October 1793(1793-10-07) (aged 75)
NationalityBritish
Spouse(s)(1) Lady Margaretta FitzGerald
(d. 1766)
(2) Mary Stawell
(1726–1780)

Wills Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire, PC (30 May 1718 – 7 October 1793), known as the 2nd Viscount Hillsborough from 1742 to 1751 and as the 1st Earl of Hillsborough from 1751 to 1789, was a British politician of the Georgian era.

Best known in North America as the Earl of Hillsborough, he served as Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1768 to 1772, a critical period leading toward the American War of Independence.

Background

Born in Fairford, Gloucestershire, Wills Hill was the son of Trevor Hill, 1st Viscount Hillsborough, and Mary, daughter of Anthony Rowe. He was named after General Sir Charles Wills, his godfather.

Political career

Hill, known retrospectively as Downshire, was returned to Parliament for Warwick in 1741, a seat he held until 1756. He succeeded his father as The 2nd Viscount Hillsborough in May 1742 (as this was an Irish peerage he was able to continue to sit in the British House of Commons). Lord Hillsborough, as he now was, was the same year appointed Lord Lieutenant of County Down and Custos Rotulorum of County Down.

In 1751, he was created Earl of Hillsborough in the Peerage of Ireland. In 1754, he was made Comptroller of the Household, a post he held until 1756, and appointed a Privy Counsellor. In 1756, he was created Baron Harwich, of Harwich in the County of Essex, in the Peerage of Great Britain, which entitled him to a seat in the House of Lords.

For nearly two years, between 1763 and 1765, Lord Hillsborough was President of the Board of Trade and Plantations under George Grenville, and after a brief period of retirement he filled the same position in 1766, and then that of joint Postmaster General, under the Earl of Chatham. From 1768 to 1772, Hillsborough was Secretary of State for the Colonies and also President of the Board of Trade. Both in and out of office, Hillsborough opposed all concessions to the American colonists, but he favoured the project for a union between England and the Kingdom of Ireland. On his retirement in 1772, he was created Earl of Hillsborough in the Peerage of Great Britain.

In 1779 he served as Secretary of State for the Southern Department, remaining until 1782. He was the last person to serve in this position, because the Secretaries of State were reorganized.

In 1789, he was made Marquess of Downshire in the Irish peerage.

Family and legacy

Arms of Hill, Marquess of Downshire: Sable, on a fess argent between three leopards passant guardant or spotted of the field as many escallops gules

Lord Downshire married firstly Lady Margaretta, daughter of The 19th Earl of Kildare, in 1747. His second daughter and last child by his first marriage was Lady Charlotte Hill, wife of The 1st Earl Talbot. Lady Talbot was the subject of a notable portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

After her death in 1766, he married secondly Mary Bilson-Legge, 1st Baroness Stawell, daughter of Edward, 4th Baron Stawell, and widow of Henry Bilson-Legge, in 1768. She died in 1780.

Lord Downshire died on 7 October 1793, aged 75, and was succeeded by his son from his first marriage, Arthur.

In the United States, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, Hillsborough Township, New Jersey, the town of Hillsborough, New Hampshire, within the county, the town of Hillsborough, North Carolina, and Hillsborough County, Florida, were named after the Marquess. Hillsborough, California, named for Hillsborough, New Hampshire, is an indirect namesake.

In Canada, Hillsborough Bay, on Prince Edward Island, and the village of Hillsborough, New Brunswick, were named in Downshire's honour.

Wax profile portrait of Lord Hillsborough by 'Lewis'.

This page was last updated at 2024-03-25 19:03 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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