Wills Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire

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The Most Honourable
The Marquess of Downshire
PC
Marquess of Downshire.jpg
First Lord of Trade
In office
9 September 1763 – 20 July 1765
Monarch George III
Prime Minister George Grenville
Preceded by The Earl of Shelburne
Succeeded by The Earl of Dartmouth
In office
16 August – December 1766
Monarch George III
Prime Minister The Earl of Chatham
Preceded by The Earl of Dartmouth
Succeeded by The Viscount Clare
In office
20 January 1768 – 31 August 1772
Monarch George III
Prime Minister The Earl of Chatham
The Duke of Grafton
Lord North
Preceded by The Viscount Clare
Succeeded by The Earl of Dartmouth
Secretary of State for the Colonies
In office
27 February 1768 – 27 August 1772
Monarch George III
Prime Minister The Earl of Chatham
The Duke of Grafton
Lord North
Preceded by New office
Succeeded by The Earl of Dartmouth
Secretary of State for the Southern Department
In office
24 November 1779 – 27 March 1782
Monarch George III
Prime Minister Lord North
Preceded by The Viscount Weymouth
Succeeded by Office abolished
Personal details
Born 30 May 1718 (1718-05-30)
Fairford, Gloucestershire
Died 7 October 1793 (1793-10-08)
Nationality British
Spouse(s) (1) Lady Margaretta FitzGerald
(d. 1766)
(2) Mary Stawell
(1726-1780)

Wills Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire PC (30 May 1718 – 7 October 1793), known as the Viscount Hillsborough from 1742 to 1751 and as the Earl of Hillsborough from 1751 to 1789, was a British politician of the Georgian era. Best known in the United States as the Earl of Hillsborough, he served as Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1768 to 1772, a critical period leading toward the American War of Independence.

Background[edit]

Born at Fairford, Gloucestershire, Downshire was the son of Trevor Hill, 1st Viscount Hillsborough and Mary, daughter of Anthony Rowe.

Political career[edit]

The Marquess of Downshire

Downshire was returned to Parliament for Warwick in 1741, a seat he held until 1756. He succeeded his father as second Viscount Hillsborough in 1742 (as this was an Irish peerage he was able to continue to sit in the British House of Commons). In 1751 he was created Earl of Hillsborough in the Peerage of Ireland. In 1754 he was made Comptroller of the Household, a post he held until 1756, and appointed a Privy Counsellor. In 1756 he was created Baron Harwich, of Harwich in the County of Essex, in the Peerage of Great Britain, which entitled him to a seat in the House of Lords.

For nearly two years, between 1763 and 1765, he was President of the Board of Trade and Plantations under George Grenville, and after a brief period of retirement he filled the same position in 1766, and then that of joint Postmaster-General, under the Earl of Chatham. From 1768 to 1772 Hillsborough was Secretary of State for the Colonies and also president of the board of trade. Both in and out of office he opposed all concessions to the American colonists, but he favored the project for a union between England and Ireland. On his retirement in 1772 he was created Earl of Hillsborough in the Peerage of Great Britain. In 1779 he was made Secretary of State for the Southern Department, which he remained until 1782. He was made Marquess of Downshire in the Irish peerage in 1789.

Family[edit]

Lord Downshire married firstly Lady Margaretta, daughter of Robert FitzGerald, 19th Earl of Kildare, in 1747. After her death in 1766 he married secondly Mary Bilson-Legge, 1st Baroness Stawell, daughter of Edward Stawell, 4th Baron Stawell and widow of Henry Bilson-Legge, in 1768. She died in 1780. Lord Downshire died on 7 October 1793, aged 75, and was succeeded by his son from his first marriage, Arthur. His second daughter and last child by his first marriage was Lady Charlotte Hill, wife of John Chetwynd-Talbot, 1st Earl Talbot. Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, the town of Hillsborough, New Hampshire within the county, the town of Hillsborough, North Carolina and Hillsborough County, Florida in the United States, as well as Hillsborough Bay in Prince Edward Island and the village of Hillsborough, New Brunswick, in Canada, are named in Downshire's honour.

Wax profile portrait of Lord Hillsborough by 'Lewis'.

References[edit]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Thomas Archer
Henry Archer
Member of Parliament for Warwick
17411756
With: Henry Archer
Succeeded by
Henry Archer
John Spencer
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Conyers Darcy
Comptroller of the Household
1754–1756
Succeeded by
Lord Hobart
Preceded by
Richard Arundell
Treasurer of the Chamber
1755–1756
Succeeded by
Charles Townshend
Preceded by
The Earl of Shelburne
First Lord of Trade
1763–1765
Succeeded by
The Earl of Dartmouth
Preceded by
The Earl of Dartmouth
First Lord of Trade
1766
Succeeded by
The Lord Nugent
Preceded by
The Viscount Clare
First Lord of Trade
1768–1772
Succeeded by
The Earl of Dartmouth
New title Secretary of State for the Colonies
1768–1772
Succeeded by
The Earl of Dartmouth
Preceded by
The Viscount Weymouth
Secretary of State for the Southern Department
1779–1782
Office abolished
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Earl of Hillsborough
1772–1793
Succeeded by
Arthur Hill
New creation Baron Harwich
1756–1793
Peerage of Ireland
New creation Marquess of Downshire
1789–1793
Succeeded by
Arthur Hill
New creation Earl of Hillsborough
1751–1793
Preceded by
Trevor Hill
Viscount Hillsborough
1742–1793