William Hills, Lieutenant R.N.

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William Hills, Lieutenant R.N.

Birthdate: (38)
Birthplace: Meopham, Kent, England, United Kingdom
Death: December 23, 1777 (38)
Hanois Reef, Guernsey Islands (Drowned - Shipwreck of cutter 'Sprightly' returning from engagement in American Revolutionary War)
Immediate Family:

Son of Andrew Hills, Jr. and Mary Hills
Husband of Lydia Hills (Barker)
Father of John Hills; Lydia Hills; Mary Hills; William Hills; Unknown Hills and 5 others
Brother of William Hills; John Hills; Andrew Hills; Thomas Hills; John Hills, Captain R.N. and 1 other

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About William Hills, Lieutenant R.N.

William was born in 1739 in Sandwich Kent, UK

Baptism: 1739 6 May at St. Clements, Sandwich, Kent

[Source: Canterbury Cathedral Archives; Archive reference U3/17/1/2; Year range 1660-1770]

1772, 3d. of January 1772, Sir John Bentley, aged 69.

Sir John Bentley left his personal Estate to William and his brother John Hills, also of the Royal Navy – as two legatees (as per Sir John's Last Will and Testament 21 September 1771). William and his wife Lydia lived in Buckland, near Dover, Kent - one of the Royal Navy's Cinque Ports (see Wikipedia - "The Confederation of Cinque Ports was originally formed for military and trade purposes, but is now entirely ceremonial. It lies at the eastern end of the English Channel, where the crossing to the continent is narrowest. The five ports are Hastings, New Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich)

John Hills signed over his part to his brother William. Sealed, signed and dated 13 April 1773, "Release from brother Lieutenant John Hills to Lieutenant William Hills of his part of the Residue of the personal Estate of Sir John Bentley, dec'd, late of Parish of Buckland, Dover."

1767 Marriage in Holy Trinity Church Gosport, Hampshire. This church has a 'Handel organ" ["From 1718-1720, Handel was director of music to James Brydges, Duke of Chandos, and commissioned the building of this organ. After his house was demolished in 1744 Trinity paid £117 for the organ" - Source Church website]

According to a 'handed-down' paper insert (torn out of a book or family bible) the births and deaths of their children are recorded - it is thought that the first half of the names were written by this Lydia), transcribed as follows: :

  • John Hills, born the 26th JUly 1768 Died 178..;
  • Lydia Hills, ditto, 4th Sept.1769, Died 25th Jany 1771 (1 yr 4 mths)
  • Mary Hills, ditto, 6th Decr. 1770....;
  • Wm Hills, ditto, 18th Octr 1771.....;
  • Little One Lost.........(death or miscarriage?) 9th June 1772
  • George Hills, born the 12th July 1773, Died 20th July 1773 (8 days old)
  • Charles Hills, ditto, 22nd March 1774, Died 1795
  • Fanny Hills, ditto, 5th August 1775, Died Sept 19th 1775 (1+ month old)
  • Hary Hills, ditto, 21 October 1776, Drowned - ship lost off Cape Horn, 1807
  • George Hills, ditto, 8th November 1777 (Certificate of baptism 1777, Novr 23, Parish of Buckland, Dover, Co of Kent)

1777 23 December "Lieutenant William Hills, R.N. of Buckland, Kent" perished just over a month after his son George was born, but never got to see him.. He was in command of H.M.S. Sprightly. The ship had been designed by John Williams, built by Thomas King at the Royal Dockland in Dover, and launched and put out to sea on 16 August 1777. Four months later she capsized in a heavy gale off the Hanois Reef, bringing home valuable prizes returning from engagements in the American Revolution arena, . Cutters were prone to capsizing because of over-canvassing. In 1973 professional divers found inter alia two dozen gold guineas bearing the head of George III, and a fine pistol by Clarkson of London.

(Inf. courtesy of Marusia Bucknall and Lisa Burton, Registrar, Guernsey Museums & Galleries at www.museums.gov.gg)

In a family manuscript copy dated 1845, his son Admiral George Hills, says the ship was "driven off course in a heavy gale on(to) the "Carland" (?), a dangerous shoal off Guernsey Island". The Hanois Lighthouse marks the western end of the Channel Islands indicating the shoals and reefs to the west of Guernsey

(N.B Locally known as 'The Cup and Saucer' the Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum is situated on the west coast, on a beautiful part of the island at Rocquaine in the parish of St. Peter's, Guernsey. The museum holds a collection relating to the many shipwrecks which have taken place around the island's treacherous coastline, including information and display of objects from the HMS Sprightly. In 1862 a lighthouse was built to warn ships about the dangerous reefs at Hanois. )

His widow, Lydia, with approx. six remaining children, continued to live at Buckland Manor and two years later received a widow's annual pension of 25 pounds, as per the following:

Widow's pension of 25 pounds ordered 8 February 1779

  • Barker, Lydia - Widow of William Hills

[Source: Accounts and Estimates, Army Returns &c. Session 23 January-June 21 1810, Volume XIII. The Ordinary Estimate of His Majesty's Navy, for the Year 1810. No.3 Pensions and Allowances to Sea and Marine Officers, Commissions of His Majesty's Navy, their Widow, and the Relations of Sea Officers. p.14.]

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William Hills, Lieutenant R.N.'s Timeline

April 1739
Meopham, Kent, England, United Kingdom
November 2, 1740
Age 1
Meopham, Kent, England, United Kingdom
July 26, 1768
Age 29
Buckland, Dover, Kent, England
September 4, 1769
Age 30
December 6, 1770
Age 31
Dover, UK
October 18, 1771
Age 32
Dover, Kent, UK
June 9, 1772
Age 33
Dover, UK
July 12, 1773
Age 34
March 22, 1774
Age 34