The late Ronnie Mathews, in his book “Portarlington The Inside Story” (ISBN 0 86335 027 5), suggests that the Hill family may have arrived in the area as Huguenots and Anglicised their name to Hill. They seem to have held land at ‘Glass House’ where an earlier tenant, Mr Heinzle/Hennezel, had attempted to establish a glass business c1672. This land was part of the forfeited holdings of Sir Patrick Trant and later owned by Henry Bennet.
Portarlington became well-known for its schools in the late 18th century and Nick Halpin’s school is connected with James Hill, son of Major Thomas Hill of Portarlington and brother of architect Thomas Hill Jr. James attended Trinity College Dublin according to Mr Mathews. Another Hill son, Thomas, married Mary Anne, daughter of Nicholas Halpin. Their three children were called Nicholas Thomas, William Halpin and Mary Anne Hill. Mother Mary Anne died while the children were still young.
Ronnie Mathews refers several times to the ‘Hill memoirs’. He says, ‘The same family papers tell how, through living beyond his means and a fondness of gambling, Hill lost the estate, and the family then moved to a modest house with some land in the town.’ It is not clear from the book where the ‘Hill memoirs’ were sourced. In the 1800s the Hills opened a shop in Main Street. The memoirs refer to Major Hill receiving a letter about 1827, otherwise dates are few.
Apparently descendants of the family visited in 1994.
I see that it is possible to find copies of this local history on the internet.
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