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Hill, Stephen John (DNB01)

HILL, Sir STEPHEN JOHN (1809–1891), colonial governor, born on 10 June 1809, was the son of Major William Hill by his wife Sarah. He entered the army in 1823, became lieutenant in 1825, and captain in 1842. In 1849 he commanded an expedition which proceeded eighty miles up the Gambia. On 6 May he stormed and destroyed the fortified town of Bambacoo, and on the following day attacked and partially destroyed the fortified town of Keenung, besides defeating the enemy on the plains of Quenella. He also commanded a detachment of the 2nd and 3rd West India regiments in a successful attack by the British and French naval and land forces under Commodore Fanshawe on the pirates of the island of Basis, Jeba River, West Africa. For this service he received the thanks of the lords of the admiralty and the brevet rank of major. On 1 April 1851 he was appointed governor and commander-in-chief of the Gold Coast. In 1852 a poll-tax was imposed on the natives with the consent of the protected chiefs, to assist in defraying the cost of administration. A local force was raised for the defence of the colony under the designation of the Gold Coast corps. On 6 Nov. 1854 Hill was nominated lieutenant-governor of Sierra Leone. He remained there until 1859, undertaking two successful expeditions up the Great Scarcies River in January 1858 and February 1859. In July 1860 he returned as governor-in-chief, remaining until 21 July 1862, when ill-health compelled him to return to England, leaving his son, Lieutenant-colonel William Hill, as acting governor. His second term of administration was marked by the annexation of British Quiah in April 1861 and British Sherboro in November 1861.

On 9 Feb. 1863 he assumed the office of captain-general and governor-in-chief of the Leeward and Caribbee Islands, where he remained until 1869, when he was removed to Newfoundland. Entering on his duties on 29 Sept. he remained there until 1876, when he retired from active service.

Hill was appointed colonel of the 2nd West India regiment on 21 Nov. 1854. He was nominated C.B. in 1860 and K.C.M.G. in 1874. He died in London at 72 Sutherland Avenue, Maida Vale, on 20 Oct. 1891. He was twice married: first, on 30 Nov. 1829, to Sarah Ann, daughter of William Vesey Munnings, chief justice of the Bahamas; and, secondly, on 3 Aug. 1871, to Louisa Gordon, daughter of John Sheil (d. 6 March 1847), chief justice of Antigua. He left issue by his first wife.

[Times, 27 Oct. 1891; Haydn's Book of Dignities; Ellis's Hist. of the Gold Coast, 1893, pp. 217–20; Sibthorpe's Hist of Sierra Leone, 1881, pp. 67–8, 70–2; Oliver's Hist. of Antigua, 1894–9, vol. i. p. clvi, ii. 100, iii. 319, 321; Prowse's Hist. of Newfoundland, 1895, pp. 496–500.]

E. I. C.