Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Henry John Hill (1847–1926)

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Henry John Hill (1847-1926), mail contractor and coach proprietor, was born on 26 March 1847 at Walkerville, South Australia, son of Henry John Hill and his wife Susanna, née Rofe. Known as John he was educated at a Presbyterian school at Alberton and then joined his father's carrying business, Henry Hill & Co. After training in office work John went into outside management. In 1866 Cobb & Co., of which his father was a member, bought out the coaching business of William Rounsevell. Hill became local manager of Cobb & Co., bought their branch in 1871 and formed the new firm, John Hill & Co., which included H. R. Fuller and George Mills with Hill as the active manager. The business boomed and by 1882 it was sold to John Hill & Co. Ltd. Hill's coaches served most of South Australia and despite competition from the railways, especially in the south and south-east, the firm opened many new routes to offset the loss in trade. Hill often had a thousand horses at work and he opened large service stables at Broken Hill. Before World War I the firm amalgamated with H. Graves to form Graves, Hill & Co. Ltd. In 1877 Hill was a partner of Charles Fisher in at least three Queensland runs. In 1888-95 he served as a railway commissioner at a salary of £1000 and then resumed his work with Hill & Co.

Hill was president of the Royal Agricultural Society in 1905-06, became a life member and chaired its finance and horse committees for thirty years. He was prominent in the Pirie Street Methodist Church and Sunday school for over sixty years and was elected a member of the General Wesleyan Conference in 1884, 1890 and 1894. He was also trustee of the Savings Bank. A keen cricketer for North Adelaide, he scored one of the first centuries on the Adelaide oval in a match against Kent Club in January 1875. He was also active in the Adelaide Bowls Club. On 9 October 1867 he had married Rebecca Eliza Saunders. She died in February 1921 aged 73. Hill died at his home in North Adelaide on 18 September 1926. He left an estate of £16,300 to his surviving seven daughters and six sons, one of whom was the Test cricketer, Clem Hill (1877-1945).

Select Bibliography

  • Observer (Adelaide), 8 June 1895, 25 Sept 1926
  • Register (Adelaide), 20 Sept 1926.

Citation details

'Hill, Henry John (1847–1926)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 13 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (Melbourne University Press), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


26 March, 1847
Walkerville, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


18 September, 1926 (aged 79)
North Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.