The man who named Hilton was Joseph Henderson (1825–1899): merchant, banker, financier and politician. He married Jane Maidstone née Pearson on the 13th Aug 1849 in Pietermaritzburg and accompanied Theophilus Shepstone as adviser to the Transvaal in 1877.
Education in Hilton includes Cowan House, a private mixed boarding school for over 300 pupils. The school, founded in 1948 was completely destroyed in a fire in 1997 and was rebuilt the same year. Also St. Anne's Diocesan College, Grace College, St. Dunstan's College and Laddsworth Primary School.