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Who was George HILL?
published by daveerasmus on Tue, 24/09/2019 - 18:41

According to UK and Tasmanian Criminal and Court records that I have seen, George HILL was:

  • born in Langford c1810-1812
  • a labourer
  • tried for Burglary (entering the house of Matthew TAVERNOR and stealing 40 Sovereigns) on 2 January 1831 at Wells Sessions
  • found guilty and sentenced to death (commuted to transportation for life)
  • moved from Shepton gaol to Ilchester on 6 August 1831
  • transferred to the Captivity Hulk Devonport on 12 September 1831
  • transported to Van Diemens Land arriving on 24 August 1833.

I am interested in George because I am a DNA match to one of his descendants. 

I am a direct descendant of John HILL and Mary WHITE who were married in Churchill on 31 March 1806. They had numerous children all of whom were baptised in Churchill from 1806 (my 3x GGF John) and 1821 (Sarah). There was no George as far as I can tell. Nor can I find any George HILL baptised in Churchill from 1800 to 1820.

Any thoughts on when, where and to whom George was born would be appreciated, please.

One possibility is that he was the son of John Porter HILL who was baptised in Wrington on 26 September 1790. I don't think he was the John HILL who married Mary WHITE in 1806. I believe John Porter HILL was living in Bedminster in 1841 and 1851 with wife Mary and children Thomas, Mary, Charlotte and Elizabeth. "My" John HILL stayed in Churchill. I haven't found a marriage for John Porter HILL or baptism records for his children.

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Comments ..

Submitted by gricharduk on Tue, 01/10/2019 - 6:24

Very interesting. I was wondering if this Somerset Archive record might be relevant:


It might explain the difficulty finding a baptism record.

Best regards,


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Submitted by Pat Hase on Tue, 01/10/2019 - 19:11

An interesting thought but it looks as if that George HILL was too old to be the one that Dave is looking for if he was fathering a child in  1810.

Could he have been born in Cheddar in about 1811, George Ford HILL, the illegitimate son of Ann HILL?  See our transcriptions.

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Submitted by gricharduk on Wed, 02/10/2019 - 7:42

"a child to be born of Ann Hall". I meant the child not the father.

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Submitted by Pat Hase on Wed, 02/10/2019 - 14:52

I had assumed that any child of the single woman, Ann HALL would have the surname HALL.  The Winscombe Baptisms for 1 May 1814 have the christening of a 4 year old Mary HALL base born daughter of Ann HALL who could be the daughter of the George HILL who was mentioned in the document.

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Submitted by daveerasmus on Wed, 02/10/2019 - 19:30

Thank you both for taking the time to look at this. I think that Pat is probably right and that Mary HALL was the child in question. But I will obtain a copy of the Bastardy Order just to be sure.

As regards George Ford HILL of Cheddar it looks like he married Hannah BANWELL in Cheddar in 1843, so unfortunately this not "my" George HILL.

The search continues.

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Submitted by daveerasmus on Sat, 28/03/2020 - 20:45

I hope you don’t mind my returning to this post but I now have at least 4 DNA matches to people in Australia claiming to be descendants of George HILL. And I am no closer to finding him.

In an effort to break down this particular brick wall, I thought I’d try coming at it from a different direction. In my original post I mentioned that George was found guilty of entering the house of Matthew TAVERNOR and stealing 40 Sovereigns. That is why he was transported to Australia in 1833. I have been searching for Matthew. The only one I can find was living in Blackmoor, Churchill in 1841/1851/1861. He was married to Mary (DYER?) and had 4 children. It looks like this is the right man because in 1841 my 4 x GGF John HILL  and his wife Mary (nee WHITE) were living very close by with some of their children  - they are on the same page of the Census (Class: HO107; Piece 967; Book: 10; Civil Parish: Churchill; County: Somerset; Enumeration District: 8; Folio: 24; Page: 16; Line: 8; GSU roll: 474608). John and Mary were (allegedly) the parents of the elusive George.

But I am concerned about something. 40 Sovereigns was an awful lot of money in 1830 – worth around £4000 in today’s money. It was the equivalent of a decent annual wage. But according to the 1841 Census Matthew was “only” a Carpenter. And at the time of his daughter Ellen’s baptism in 1834 his occupation was given as “Sawyer”. So, is it conceivable that he could have had that much money in his house? If not, should I be looking for another Matthew Taverner?

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Submitted by Pat Hase on Sun, 29/03/2020 - 11:00

The Taunton Courier of August 10th Aug 1831 states that a Martha HILL and Simon HILL were involved in this robbery as well as a William BAKER and G. HILL.  There is a christening of a Simon HILL in Churchill in 1815, s/o John & Mary which seems to suggest that you have the correct George HILL.  Who was Martha HILL?

When Matthew TAVERNER died in 1868 his probate gives his estate as under £450 and by 1861 he was a farmer of 30 acres - So given that he lived in the same area as "your George HILL" it seems very likely that you have the correct man here as well.  Sovereigns kept under the bed to pay tradesmen?

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Submitted by daveerasmus on Sun, 29/03/2020 - 19:49

That's excellent again, Pat. I don't have access to that newspaper clipping. Simon HILL was a brother of my 3 x GGF John HILL. Martha must, I think, be the former Martha OFFER and she was the wife of my 3 x GGF John HILL! None of this proves that George was a brother to John and Simon, but the evidence is stacking up.

William BAKER's name appears immediately above George's on the list of those sentenced to transportation. I need to find out more about him to see if that sheds any more light on things.

Yes, I saw that additional information about Matthew TAVERNER. By the time of his burial he was described as "Yeoman" so he obviously went up in the world.

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