This family, of Norman extraction, was originally called de la Montagne.
In the reign of EDWARD III its members were styled "Hill, alias de la Montagne"; but in succeeding ages they were known by the name of HILL only.
SIR MOSES HILL, Knight,
descended from the family of HILL, of Devon (two members of which were judges of England in the beginning of the 15th century, and one Lord Mayor of London, 1484), went over to Ulster, as a military officer, with the Earl of Essex, in 1573, to suppress O'Neill's rebellion.
This Moses was subsequently appointed governor of Olderfleet Castle, an important fortress at the period, as it protected Larne harbour from the Scots.
His first land purchase in County Down came in 1607, when he bought the Castlereagh estates of the hapless Conn O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone.
Thereafter he acquired the Kilwarlin estate - now Hillsborough - from the Magennises.Sir Moses represented County Antrim in parliament in 1613, and having distinguished himself during a long life, both as a soldier and a magistrate, he died in 1629-30, and was succeeded by his elder son,
PETER HILL; but we pass to his younger son, ARTHUR HILL, who eventually inherited the estates, upon the demise of Peter's only son, Francis Hill, of Hill Hall, without male issue.
ARTHUR HILL, of Hillsborough, was colonel of a regiment in the service of CHARLES I, and he sat in parliament under the usurpation of CROMWELL, as well as after the Restoration, when he was sworn of the privy council.
He married firstly, Anne, daughter of Sir Richard Bolton, LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, by whom he had, with other issue, Moses, who wedded his cousin Anne, eldest daughter of Francis Hill, of Hill Hall, and left three daughters.
He espoused secondly, Mary, daughter of Sir William Parsons, one of the Lords Justices of Ireland, and had three other sons and a daughter, the eldest of whom,
WILLIAM HILL, succeeded to the estates at the decease of his half-brother, Moses, without male issue.
This gentleman was of the privy council to CHARLES II, and JAMES II, and was MP for County Down.
He married firstly, Eleanor, daughter of the Most Rev Dr Michael Boyle, Lord Archbishop of Armagh, LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, by whom he had an only son, MICHAEL.
Mr Hill wedded secondly, Mary, eldest daughter of Sir Marcus Trevor, who was created Viscount Dungannon (1st creation) in 1662 for his signal gallantry in wounding OLIVER CROMWELL at Marston Moor, and had two other sons.
He died in 1693, and was succeeded by his eldest son,
MICHAEL HILL (1672-99), of Hillsborough, a member of the privy council, and of the parliaments of England and Ireland.
This gentleman espoused Anne, daughter and heir of Sir John Trevor, of Brynkinalt, Denbighshire, Master of the Rolls, Speaker of the House of Commons, and first Lord Commissioner of the Great Seal, and had two sons,
TREVOR, his heir;Mr Hill was succeeded by his elder son,
Arthur, 1st Viscount Dungannon (2nd creation).
TREVOR HILL (1693-1742), of Hillsborough, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1717, as Baron Hill, of Kilwarlin, and Viscount Hillsborough, both in County Down.
His lordship wedded Mary, eldest daughter and co-heir of Anthony Rowe, of Muswell Hill, Middlesex; and left (with a daughter, Anne, wedded to John, 1st Earl of Moira) an only son, his successor,
WILLS, 2nd Viscount (1718-93), who was created Viscount Kilwarlin and Earl of Hillsborough, in 1751, with remainder, in default of male issue, to his uncle Arthur Hill; and enrolled amongst the peers of Great Britain, in 1756, as Baron Harwich, in Essex.
His lordship was advanced to an English viscountcy and earldom, in 1772, by the titles of Viscount Fairford and Earl of Hillsborough.
Lord Hillsborough was further advanced, in 1789, to the dignity of a marquessate, as MARQUESS OF DOWNSHIRE.
He married, in 1747, Margaretta, daughter of Robert, 19th Earl of Kildare, and sister of James, 1st Duke of Leinster, by whom he had surviving issue,
ARTHUR, his successor;His lordship wedded secondly, Mary, 1st Baroness Stawell, and widow of the Rt Hon Henry Bilson-Legge, son of the 1st Earl of Dartmouth, by whom he had no issue.
Mary Amelia, m to 1st Marquess of Salisbury;
Charlotte, m to 1st Earl Talbot.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son Edmund Robin Arthur Hill, styled Earl of Hillsborough.
- Wills Hill, 1st Marquess (1718–93)
- Arthur Hill, 2nd Marquess (1753–1801)
- Arthur Blundell Sandys Trumbull Hill, 3rd Marquess (1788–1845)
- Arthur Wills Blundell Sandys Trumbull Windsor Hill, 4th Marquess (1812–68)
- Arthur Hill, Viscount Kilwarlin (1841–1841)
- Arthur Wills Blundell Trumbull Sandys Roden Hill, 5th Marquess (1844–74)
- Arthur Wills John Wellington Trumbull Blundell Hill, 6th Marquess (1871–1918)
- Arthur Wills Percy Wellington Blundell Trumbull Hill, 7th Marquess (1894–1989)
- Arthur Robin Ian Hill, 8th Marquess (1929–2003)
- Arthur Francis Nicholas Wills Hill, 9th and present Marquess (b 1959)
The Downshire Papers are deposited at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.
In 1870, Lord Downshire owned 115,000 acres, mainly in County Down; and a further 5,000 acres at Easthampstead Park in Berkshire.
These estates generated an income of £80,000 per annum, or £3.6 million in today's money.
Downshire House (above) at 24 Belgrave Square, now part of the Spanish embassy, it is thought.
Their principal seat was Hillsborough Castle; and they also had a marine residence, Murlough House, near Dundrum, also in County Down.
|The Castle Guards, Hillsborough Castle|
Lord Downshire sold Hillsborough Castle to the Government in about 1921, I think; and Murlough remained with the family till the 1940s or 50s.
Easthampstead Park was sold after the 2nd World War.
Lord Downshire's formal and legal styles today are,
The Most Honourable Arthur Francis Nicholas Wills [Hill], Marquess of Downshire, Earl of Hillsborough, Viscount Kilwarlin and Viscount Fairford, Baron Hill of Kilwarlin and Baron Harwich.Other seats included North Aston Hall, Oxfordshire; Timweston, Buckinghamshire; and Hill Park, Kent;
Today Lord and Lady Downshire and their family live at Clifton Castle, near Ripon in North Yorkshire.
In 2005, when Royal Ascot re-located to York race-course, the Daily Telegraph published this about Clifton:
Clifton Castle, a Georgian country house in Masham belonging to the Marquess and Marchioness of Downshire - or Nick and Janey to guests - has seven bedrooms and sleeps 14. It costs £40,000.That was for one week, incidentally.
Downshire arms courtesy of European Heraldry. First published in July, 2009.