HILL, Lord George Augusta (1801-1879).
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Family and Educationb. 9 Dec. 1801, 5th but 4th surv. s. of Arthur Hill†, 2nd mq. of Downshire [I], and Mary, da. of Hon. Martyn Sandys, 2nd s. of Samuel, 1st Bar. Sandys (she was cr. Baroness Sandys 19 June 1802); bro. of Lord Arthur Marcus Cecil Hill† and Lord Arthur Moyses William Hill*. m. (1) 21 Oct. 1834, Cassandra Jane (d. 14 Mar. 1842), da. of Edward Knight (formerly Austen) of Godmersham Park, Kent, 2s. 1da.; (2) 11 May 1847, her sis. Louisa Knight, 1s. d. 6 Apr. 1879.
Cornet R. Horse Gds. 1817, lt. 1820; capt. 1825; capt. 8 Drag. 1825; a.d.c. to c.-in-c. [I] 1830; maj. (half-pay) 1830; maj. 47 Ft. 1838, ret. 1838.
Comptroller, household of ld. lt. [I] 1833-4.
Sheriff, co. Donegal 1845-6.
Hill was the youngest brother of the 3rd marquess of Downshire and Lord Arthur Moyses Hill, Member for Down. He entered the army in May 1817, serving initially in the duke of Wellington’s regiment, and transferred to the Royal Irish Dragoons in 1825. At the general election of 1826 he was proposed for Carrickfergus, where Downshire was a minor landowner, but withdrew after a token contest, stating that he had been unaware of the nomination, in favour of the sitting Member Sir Arthur Chichester.1 He evidently served with his regiment on peacekeeping duties in the north of Ireland and in December 1828 he deplored the dismissal of the lord lieutenant Lord Anglesey.2 In April 1830 he became aide-de-camp to Sir John Byng*, commander of the forces in Ireland, but he obtained his majority and joined the half-pay list, 6 July.3 This was with a view to canvassing at Carrickfergus, where a family member was required to head the revived opposition to Lord Donegall’s interest. At the general election he defeated Chichester after a severe contest, surviving a subsequent petition, and was returned as a supporter of Wellington’s administration.4
Hill was listed by ministers among their ‘friends’, but was absent from the division on the civil list that led to their resignation, 15 Nov. 1830, and subsequently followed his brothers in adhering to Lord Grey’s coalition government. He declined to present the Carrickfergus petition for radical parliamentary reform, but voted for the second reading of the reform bill, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831.5 He was again returned for Carrickfergus after another of the Chichesters had failed to push his candidacy to a contest at the general election in May.6 He divided for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and steadily for its details. He sided with ministers in their majorities on the Dublin election controversy, 23 Aug., but was listed in the minority for making legal provision for the Irish poor, 29 Aug. He divided for the passage of the reform bill, 21 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He voted for the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831, again for its details, and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He divided for Ebrington’s motion for an address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry the reform bill unimpaired, 10 May, and the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May. He voted with ministers for the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16, 20 July, and against producing information on Portugal, 9 Feb. 1832.
Hill, who made no known parliamentary speeches, issued an address from Paris, 11 Oct. 1832, in which he boasted of his assiduity in attending on the reform question and announced his retirement on account of ill health. He returned to Ireland in time to assist the return of his brother Lord Arthur Marcus Hill for Newry at the general election of 1832, but apparently never sought to re-enter Parliament himself.7 By 1833 he had been appointed comptroller in the reappointed Anglesey’s viceregal household and he continued in office under his successor Lord Wellesley until the following year.8 He exchanged into the 47th Foot, 23 Mar. 1838, but sold his commission the following day. That year he was apparently provided by his family with sufficient funds to buy an extensive estate at Gweedore in Donegal. There he devoted the rest of his life to agricultural improvements, notably by suppressing the prevalent ‘rundale’ system, in which the available land was divided into small cultivated patches. His Facts from Gweedore, which went through five editions between 1845 and 1887, played a large part in the bitter public debates about the effects of Irish landlordism. The Commons select committee on destitution in Gweedore and Cloughaneely, to which he gave evidence, 23, 24 June 1858, was critical of his actions, and he was gradually borne down by the weight of local resistance to his well-meaning endeavours.9 Thomas Carlyle, who visited him in 1849, described Hill as ‘a man you love at first sight, handsome, gravely smiling; [with] thick grizzled hair [and] military composure’. He died at his then residence of Ballyane House, Ramelton, in April 1879, leaving his estate to his eldest son, Arthur Blundell George Sandys Hill (1837-1923), another army officer.10
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Stephen Farrell
- 1. Belfast Commercial Chron. 17 June 1826.
- 2. PRO NI, Downshire mss D671/C/348/4, 5.
- 3. Belfast News Letter, 16 Apr. 1830.
- 4. Ibid. 30 July, 6, 10, 13 Aug. 1830; Downshire mss C/1/611; PRO NI, Londonderry mss T1536/3O.
- 5. Belfast Guardian, 4 Feb. 1831.
- 6. Belfast News Letter, 29 Apr., 6 May 1831.
- 7. Ibid. 13 Nov. 1832; Newry Commercial Telegraph, 4 Jan. 1833.
- 8. W.A. Maguire, Downshire Estates in Ireland, 11; Wellington Pol. Corresp. i. 297.
- 9. Facts from Gweedore ed. E.E. Evans (1971), pp. v-xviii; Maguire, 19, 236; Donegal Hist. and Society ed. W. Nolan et al. 547-82; J. Bardon, Hist. Ulster, 279-80; PP (1857-8), xiii. 89, 381-401.
- 10. Facts from Gweedore, pp. vi, xviii; Belfast News Letter, 9 Apr.; The Times, 11 Apr. 1879.