Diana Hills (Hammersley) (1783 - 1854)

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Birthplace: London, Middlesex, England
Death: Died in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England
Managed by: Angela Tugwell
Last Updated:

About Diana Hills (Hammersley)

4th* daughter of Thomas and Ann Hammersley. who lived at 76 Pall Mall, London. (*acc. to The Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. 113, p. 282, for March 1813)

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Diana's family - the Hammersleys - were the Army Bankers (see history at http://www.happywarrior.org/genealogy/tree.htm) and

her father, Thomas Hammersley, banker to the Prince of Wales (later George IV).

The Prince of Wales was loaned money by the company, which held a casket of royal jewels as security, as evidenced by a letter from the Prince Regent to W. Morland and T. Hammersley dated 10 May 1791 which states '... in order to secure the payment of the said sum of £25,000 … his said Royal Highness hath delivered to the said William Morland and Thomas Hammersley … a casket covered with red morocco leather containing a diamond epaulette, a diamond star, a diamond George, a diamond garter and sundry diamond trinkets and ornaments belonging to his Royal Highness …. Note that £25,000 in 1791 is equivalent to about $5-10m today. (Wikipedia states: The problem of the Prince of Wales's debts, which amounted to the extraordinary sum of £630,000 (equal to £49,820,000 today) in 1795, was solved (at least temporarily) by Parliament. Being unwilling to make an outright grant to relieve these debts, it provided him an additional sum of £65,000 (equal to £5,140,000 today) per annum.] In 1803, a further £60,000 (equal to £4,486,000 today) was added, and the Prince of Wales's debts of 1795 were finally cleared in 1806, although the debts he had incurred since 1795 remained)

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Diana was remembered as a peculiarly sweet woman, devoted to her family and household and deeply religious. She represented in her beliefs and practice the survival of the old non-juring type of Churchmanship, which had never completely died out even under the depressing influences of the eighteenth century.

1812, August 28 - Last Will and Testament of her father Thomas Hammersley

- Executors (uncle) Charles Greenwood of Auberries, William Danby Esquire, (brother) Hugh Hammersley.  

Will proved in the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The will stipulated that "on the marriage of George Hills and Diana Hammersley that 4831 British Pounds, 19 shillings and 3 pence - 3 per cent consolidated bank annuities should be purchased in the names of James Halford and Hugh Hammersley and settled upon the trusts..which purchase hath accordingly been made and the said Charles Greenwood in consideration of the natural love and affection which he bore towards the said Diana Hammersley his Niece did agree to advance on the said marriage in augmentation of the fortune of the said Diana Hammersley the sum of one thousand pounds and the further sum of one thousand pounds payable upon the death of her said mother ..."

1813 March 11, George Hills and Diana Hammersley were married in Kensington, London, UK, her father having predeceased her. [Cambridge Chronicle and Journal, Fri 26 Mar 1813 - also The Literary Panorama 1813, page 685. N.B. the marriage of Elizabeth Allfree is also mentioned on page 686 - her sister Sarah married Daniel McSwiney whose son J.H.H. McSwiney married Emily Hills, the daughter of this George and Diana Hills. ]

George and Diana had eight children - Emily was the youngest.

Two of her daughters married into the Arden family, who were descendants of William Shakespeare.

1814, March 12

Ann Hammersley - letter to her daughter, Diana (Hills), from Pall Mall London.=== Diana, George and infant daughter, Dianna, had recently moved from 76 Pall Mall, London, to Tunbridge (Wells) where they took up residence on The Parade.

My Dear Di

Granny wrote yesterday to thank you for the good news of your arrival at Tunbridge and I cannot withold my Pen today to say how happy it made me – and how grateful I am to the Giver of all mercies for his various blessings bestowed continually upon me, your recovery from Lying in – the perfect well being of the pretty Infant [Diana - born Pall Mall, London]. The success of a journey in this severe weather – and above all I praise God for bestowing upon you – one of the tenderest of husbands – but My Love I begin to think he is too fond of you – so you see I am never satisfied – yet My Di I am – thus far …….. your George as you call him

...............his letter arrives – many thanks to him with my kind love – I am certainly more …….with his assurance of your being well – than …..own but I cannot help giving a little advice – do not venture out too soon – and consider how different the air ……in the house.

I hope all your things are arrived safe. I have a beautiful Ornament for you, when I have an opportunity I am going to inquire the value of it – just pray my Dear Di with and thank your uncle (Charles Greenwood) for it – as my first offering to my little Granddaughter Diana Hills I add the little silver tea chest to your Plate under my care – if I live till she speaks I shall have her little thanks. Adieu my dear beloved daughter – who I really do love too much for your own comfort – for I think of you and yours the least thing at night and the first in the morning – yours (torn off)

Ann (rest is torn off)

All well here though though terribly cold*

Pall Mall, March 12th

'(*A severe and very snowy winter was recorded for London, when the Thames (River) froze over - from 27 December 1813 to 27 March 1814 - the last Frost Fair was held on the Thames - 4th Feb 1814. The tidal stretch of the Thames froze for the last time as the old London Bridge was removed, and other factors helped increase the rivers flow, preventing ice forming again.)'

Diana's sister Mary Hammersley married Charles Barker in 1827. (NB Diana's husband, George Hills, was son of Lydia Barker so Charles may have been his first cousin.)

1828 Captain Hills and his wife Diana were experiencing financial difficulties, evidenced by an exchange of letters on the 1st and 4th February between Diana and her niece Frances Ann Smith of Woodhall Park (a vast estate in Watton, Hertfordshire) on the subject of a loan to Diana.  Frances turned down her aunt's request because she did not feel justified broaching the subject to her husband when he already had numerous calls upon him of a similar nature.  She recommended that Diana call upon other 'nearest' 'opulent' relatives.

Letter from Windsor Castle

1832 Diana was mentioned by *King William IV's private secretary (Sir Herbert Taylor) in a letter from Windsor Castle on August 10 1832 written to her sister-in-law Mrs. Ward (wife of Bishop Ward of Sodor and Man, Isle of Man). (King William IV was the younger brother of King George VI, who was the Prince of Wales who placed his banking needs with her father, Thomas Hammersley)

Census

  • Lydia
  • Charles 20
  • Caroline 20
  • Emily 19
  • Harriet Maria 16 (who died of typhus fever in 1845)
  • Thomas 15
  • + family servant

1850 George Hills, Rear-Admiral - Diana's husband - died. By the following year she and some of her children had moved from (sold?) Ashen Hall, Essex, and moved to live with her son George in Great Yarmouth, (Co.of) Norfolk

1851 Census for Great Yarmouth, (Co. of) Norfolk, England:

  • George M.A. Hills (34) - Head of Household - Incumbant of Gt Yarmouth - born Eyethorn, Kent.
  • Diana Hills (68) - Mother - Fundholder, Annuitant - born St. James, Westminster, Middlesex.
  • Diana Hills (37) - Sister - born St. James, Westminster, Middlesex.
  • Lydia Hills (35) - Sister - born Tunbridge Wells, Kent
  • Emily T. Hills (29) - Sister - born Colchester, Essex
  • Thomas Hills (24) - Brother - Army late Ensign EJCS - born Lexten, Essex

1854 February 12th - Diana died suddenly, septuagesima Sunday, on an hour after returning from morning service, at The Parsonage in Great Yarmouth: at the residence of her son, George Hills who at age 33, from 1848 to 1859, served as Minister at St. Nicholas, Great Yarmouth, the largest parish in England. (George later became the first Bishop in Western Canada)

She was buried near her husband and daughter Harriet at Saint Augustine’s Church, Ashen: "The three stained glass windows in the south side of the Chancel commemorate Rear Admiral George Hills, of Ashen Hall, his wife Diana who died in 1854 and Daughter Harriet Maria who died aged 23 in 1845 of typhus fever. Admiral Hills, who embarked on his Naval career in 1792 as a Captain’s servant, was to serve with distinction in 10 ships in the American, Mediterranean, Irish and Home stations before his death in 1852." [Source: Ashen Parish Council Website]

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Diana Hills's Timeline

1783
November 17, 1783
London, Middlesex, England
1784
January 2, 1784
Westminster, Greater London, UK
1813
March 11, 1813
Age 29
Kensington, Greater London, UK
1814
January 22, 1814
Age 30
Pall Mall, London, United Kingdom, Middlesex, UK
1815
April 5, 1815
Age 31
Tunbridge, Kent
1816
June 26, 1816
Age 32
Eythorne, Kent, UK
1818
November 27, 1818
Age 35
Dover, Kent, UK
1819
April 22, 1819
Age 35
Dover, Kent, UK
August 3, 1819
Age 35
1821
1821
Age 37
Colchester, Essex, England