HILL, Lord Arthur Moyses William (1792-1860).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



26 Feb. 1817 - 1 Aug. 1836

Family and Education

b. 10 Jan. 1792, 2nd 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 George Augusta Hill*. educ. Eton 1802. unm. suc. mother as 2nd Bar. Sandys 1 Aug. 1836. d. 16 July 1860.

Offices Held

Cornet 10 Drag. 1809, lt. 1810, capt. 1813; capt. 21 Drag. 1814, maj. (half-pay) 1815; a.d.c. to duke of Wellington 1815; capt. 2 Drag. 1816; brevet lt.-col. 1819; maj. 2 Drag 1825, lt.-col. 1832, col. 1837; half-pay 1837; maj.-gen. 1846; col. 7 Drag. Gds. 1853-8; lt.-gen. 1854; col. 2 Drag. 1858-d.

Register, chancery [I] 1794-1800.


Hill’s father, who sat for Down in the Irish Parliament until he succeeded as 2nd marquess of Downshire in 1793, was a staunch opponent of the Union and committed suicide in 1801.1 Hill, a career army officer, served directly under the duke of Wellington in the Peninsula. He joined Brooks’s in 1812 and at a by-election in February 1817 was brought in as a Whig for Down by his elder brother, the 3rd marquess.2 He was again returned unopposed at the general election of 1820 alongside the foreign secretary Lord Castlereagh, with whose family the Hills usually shared the representation, although differing in politics.3 Described by Harriette Wilson as ‘fat’ and as having ‘something comical about his manner, which I thought amusing enough’, Hill was evidently considered something of a card.4 In 1821 Lady Williams Wynn observed, wrongly as it turned out, that he was certain to marry Lord Hertford’s daughter Frances Maria, since their relationship had ‘begun at Brighton and has been vigorously followed on since’.5 Three years later, having taken up residence at his recently widowed aunt Lady Salisbury’s house at 20 Arlington Street in order to provide her with company, Thomas Creevey* reported that ‘Atty is as good as any play in his description of a late dinner at Little Sussex’s. He was invited for the express purpose of destroying all formality in the other visitors, who were exclusively royal’.6

Hill was not a thick and thin attender, but in the first four sessions of the 1820 Parliament he divided with the Whig opposition to the Liverpool ministry on most major issues and voted regularly for reduced expenditure and taxation. He divided to make Leeds a scot and lot, not a £10 householder borough on the disfranchisement of Grampound, 2 Mar., and for parliamentary reform, 25 Apr. 1822, 24 Apr. 1823. He voted for Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, and against the Irish habeas corpus suspension, 7 Feb., and insurrection bills, 8 Feb., 8 July 1822. He paired for the forgery punishment mitigation bill, 23 May 1821. He voted for inquiries into Irish tithes, 19 June 1822, the legal proceedings against the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr., and the state of Ireland, 12 May 1823. He divided for inquiries into the Irish church establishment, 6 May, and the state of Ireland, 11 May 1824, and to secure the proper use of Irish first fruits revenues, 25 May 1824, his only known votes that year. He attended to vote against the Irish unlawful societies bill, 15, 18, 21, 25 Feb., and for Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. He presented petitions from Downpatrick in favour of the Catholics, 3 Mar., from Newry against alteration of the corn laws, 29 Apr. 1825, and from Bandon and elsewhere to abolish slavery, 8 May 1826.7

In February 1825 the Rev. Mark Cassidy, one of Lord Londonderry’s supporters, remarked that the brother of the unpopular but powerful Downshire ‘is not much known, personally rather liked than disliked, but not respected; the general opinion is that he would fill the character of nobody as well as of the Member of the county Down’.8 At the general election of 1826, when the Stewart family’s disaffected stopgap Member Mathew Forde withdrew, Hill was returned with Londonderry’s son Lord Castlereagh, the nephew of the former holder of that title, after an artificially extended contest.9 He again voted for Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827. He divided for the duke of Clarence’s annuity bill, 16 Mar., but to postpone the committee of supply, 30 Mar. 1827. He was ‘dreadfully wounded’ in a fall from his horse, 25 Jan. 1828, and was not reckoned to be out of danger until April.10 He was therefore excused attendance on the Westmeath election committee, 18 Apr., and paired for Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. He voted for Catholic emancipation, 6, 30 Mar. 1829. He divided for parliamentary reform, 18 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. 1830. He voted for repeal of the Irish coal duties, 13 May, but against Jewish emancipation, 17 May. He brought up petitions against the increased Irish stamp and spirit duties from Down, 14 June, and Bleris and Hillsborough, 1 July 1830.

Hill was involved in a severe contest in Down at the general election of 1830, when Forde’s independent candidacy threatened to displace him. On the hustings he defended the government’s record, especially on emancipation, refused to commit himself on reform and denied collusion with Castlereagh, now a junior minister. He trailed behind Forde until the sixth day of the poll, but finished narrowly in second place and in his address of thanks attacked the Down Independent Club for having misled many freeholders.11 He was listed by ministers among their ‘friends’ and divided in their minority on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. Apparently after discussions within the family, he, like his brother George, now Member for Carrickfergus, divided for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. Although he declined to bring up the county’s radical reform petition, his conduct was deemed to have stood him in good stead at the ensuing general election. He offered as a reformer, apparently in alliance with the independent candidate William Sharman Crawford†, but nevertheless maintained a tacit understanding with Castlereagh and, having drawn support from both sides, was elected with the latter by a substantial majority.12

Hill divided for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and the disfranchisement of Appleby, 19 July, and St. Germans, 26 July 1831. Thereafter he was apparently absent, but he paired for the partial disfranchisement of Dorchester, 28 July, and the enfranchisement of Greenwich, 3 Aug., and Gateshead, 5 Aug. Nothing came of speculation that he would get a coronation peerage in September.13 He voted for the passage of the reform bill, 21 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He divided for the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831, to include 56 boroughs in schedule B, 20 Jan., against giving the vote to all £10 ratepayers, 3 Feb., to enfranchise Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He voted with ministers against the production of information on Portugal, 9 Feb., but in the minority for printing the Woollen Grange petition for the abolition of Irish tithes, 16 Feb. His last recorded vote was for the address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry the reform bill unimpaired, 10 May. He had been given the lieutenant-colonelcy of the Scots Greys in March and in July he took command of the regiment at Birmingham. From there he issued a moderate address and was returned unopposed for Down at the general election of 1832.14 In August 1836 he was removed to the Lords by the death of his mother, whose barony had a special remainder in favour of her younger sons, and thereafter he acted with the Conservatives. Sandys died in July 1860, at his mother’s family’s former residence of Ombersley Court, Worcestershire, where he was much esteemed for his amiable character. His title and estates passed to his next younger brother Lord Arthur Marcus Cecil Hill (1798-1886), Liberal Member for Newry, 1832-4, and Evesham, 1837-52.15

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Stephen Farrell


  • 1. Hist. Irish Parl. iv. 418-22.
  • 2. HP Commons, 1790-1820, iv. 196.
  • 3. Belfast News Letter, 7, 24 Mar. 1820.
  • 4. Harriette Wilson’s Mems. (1929), 399, 401.
  • 5. Williams Wynn Corresp. 265.
  • 6. Creevey’s Life and Times, 197.
  • 7. The Times, 4 Mar., 30 Apr. 1825, 9 May 1826.
  • 8. PRO NI, Cassidy mss D1088/45.
  • 9. Newry Commercial Telegraph, 6, 13, 30 June 1826; PRO NI, Downshire mss D671/C/2/237/1.
  • 10. Newry Commercial Telegraph, 1 Feb., 18 Apr. 1828; Downshire mss C/12/341.
  • 11. Newry Commercial Telegraph, 2 July, 3, 17, 20, 24, 27 Aug. 1830.
  • 12. Ibid. 5 Apr., 3, 10, 13, 17, 20, 24 May 1831; Downshire mss C/2/449, 451.
  • 13. Belfast News Letter, 6 Sept. 1831.
  • 14. Ibid. 31 July; Newry Commercial Telegraph, 11, 21 Dec. 1832; Wellington mss WP1/1239/27.
  • 15. The Times, 21 July; Berrow’s Worcester Jnl. 21 July 1860; Gent. Mag. (1860), ii. 190.