Hills, Henry (DNB00)

HILLS, HENRY (d. 1713), printer, was the son of a ropemaker of Maidstone, Kent, if any credit can be given to a scurrilous life of him published in 1684. According to the same authority, he came to London shortly before the civil wars, and was employed as a postilion by Thomas Harrison [q. v.], afterwards known as the regicide, who brought him under the notice of John Lilburne, who apprenticed him to a printer. It is also said that, running away from his master, he enlisted in the parliamentary army, and fought at Edgehill and Worcester. He was appointed printer to Cromwell, and after the Restoration became printer to Charles II. On 7 July 1660 the university of Oxford farmed out to him and to John Field for four years, in consideration of 80l. per annum, its privilege of printing bibles (Nichols, Illustr. of Lit. iv. 204, 205). The charter of the Company of Stationers was newly exemplified on 13 Oct. in the same year at the request of Roger Norton, master, and Henry Hills and James Cotteral, wardens of the company.

Hills, who carried on business in Blackfriars, was continued in the office of king's printer in the reign of James II. His conversion to the Roman catholic religion brought upon him a storm of abuse. It was rumoured that when his confessor had enjoined him, by way of penance, to trudge five miles with peas in his shoes, he boiled his peas (Gent. Mag. March 1736). He and Thomas Newcomb were for a short time, from 10 Jan. 1709, printers to Queen Anne under a reversionary patent for thirty-four years, granted on 24 Dec. 1665, on the expiration of a patent then held by the Barkers, in which family it had continued from the reign of Elizabeth [see Barker, Sir Christopher]. In 1710 Hills pirated Addison's ‘Letters from Italy.’ He regularly pirated and printed upon coarse paper every good poem and sermon that was published. These practices led to the direction in the statute of 8 Anne that ‘fine paper copies’ of all publications should be presented to the public libraries. The ‘Evening Post’ of 12 Nov. 1713 announced that Henry Hills, ‘printer in Black Fryers,’ being dead, his stock was to be disposed of at the Blue Anchor in Paternoster Row.

His son, Gilham Hills, also a printer, died at Morden College, Blackheath, on 18 Oct. 1737. Another of his sons, Robert, was admitted a demy of Magdalen College, Oxford, on 11 Jan. 1687–8, and was expelled on 24 Oct. 1688 (Bloxam, Magdalen College Register, vi. 56). He continued his studies at Douay, was ordained a priest, and eventually appointed to the mission at Winchester, where he died on 15 Jan. 1745–6 (Gillow, Dict. of English Catholics, iii. 312).

Hills wrote the preface to ‘A Dialogue between a Pedler and a Popish Priest,’ London, 1699, 8vo, by John Taylor the Water Poet. The original was published in 1641.

[The following scurrilous pieces relate to Hills' chequered career: 1. A view of part of the many Traiterous, Disloyal, and Turn-about Actions of H. H., Senior, sometimes Printer to Cromwel, the Common-wealth, to the Anabaptist Congregation, to Cromwel's Army, Committee of Safety, Rump Parliament, &c., Lond., 1684, small sheet, fol. 2. The Life of H.H. With the relation at large of what passed betwixt him and the Taylors Wife in Black-friars, according to the Original, Lond. 1688, 8vo. See also Gent. Mag. 1736 p. 164, 1737 p. 638; Macaulay's Hist. of England, ii. 110; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. i. 72, 479, ii. 501, iii. 578, iv. 434, 532, viii. 168; Timperley's Encycl. of Literary and Typographical Anecdote, pp. 433, 566, 603, 604.]

T. C.