Report by Sandra Millsopp
On 14 November 2013 Bangor Historical Society welcomed Jason Diamond once more. His talk was on the Hills of Hillsborough who became Marquises of Downshire.
The first to come to Ireland was Moyses Hill in 1573 on the Earl of Essex’s expedition. He decided to stay on in Ireland and was appointed governor of Olderfleet Castle. He began to acquire land and built up a very large estate, including land at Kilwarlin. His son Arthur sided with parliament in the Civil War, but then swapped sides at the Restoration so that he was able to preserve the family estates. He died in 1663 and was succeeded by his son Moyses Hill who married his cousin Anne who brought with her the Hillhall estate.
The family continued to add to their estates by advantageous marriages. William Hill married the daughter of the Archbishop of Armagh who brought the Blessington estate to the family. His second marriage to Mary Trevor led to the acquisition of an estate in Loughbrickland.
William’s son Michael married Ann Trevor from the Rostrevor family and from this marriage two lines descended. Arthur Hill Trevor became first Viscount Dungannon, while Wills became first Viscount Hillsborough and later first Marquis of Downshire in 1789. The latter consolidated the family fortunes. He was also very ambitious and became an MP. He married the sister of the first Duke of Leinster and built Hillsborough Castle. He was Secretary of State for the Colonies at the time of the American War of Independence and earned George III’s enmity.
The second Marquis, Arthur, was another Hill who made an advantageous marriage. His bride in 1786, Mary Sandes, brought lands in King’s County and in Dundrum as well as East Hampstead Park in England. One of the causes of family debt was the money spent on elections because of rivalry with the Stewart family. The third Marquis came to an arrangement with the Marquis of Londonderry to share the County Down representation. When the third Marquis died in 1845 he had got rid of the debts and added to the family estates. A column was erected in his memory at Hillsborough. The fourth Marquis inherited vast estates with a rental of over £95,000. His brother Lord Arthur Hill fell in love with Annie Harrison, but the family did not consider her good enough for him. He married another lady who died young. While he was in London he heard the song “In the gloaming”, guessed she had written it, tracked her down and married her.
The family left the castle in the 1920s and it was later bought as a residence for the governor of Northern Ireland. Among those who stayed there were Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret whose maternal aunt was married to the second governor.
Paul McKay proposed the vote of thanks for an excellent talk.