Thomas Hill UE fought for the Loyalists during the American Revolutionary War. He is mentioned in a list of early settlers of York, Upper Canada, in what is today Toronto.
Thomas Hill was (probably) born in Somersetshire England, the son of Thomas Benjamin Hill and Jane Bower. A March, 1751 christening record in Somerset England says he is the son of Thomas Hill and Jane. Link to record at FamilySearch. NOTE: an alternative birth year of 11 Jun 1754 is stated on the page of his father; a source for this has not yet been identified.
There exists an English death record for a Thomas Hill, died 17 Dec 1819, in Wellington, Somerset, England. He was a son of Thomas Hill and his wife Jane. If this death record refers to the same person as the christening record, that eliminates his identity as Thomas Hill, UE. Various secondary sources claim he was born not in England but in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. More primary sources will be needed to determine the correct birth location [see Marriage and Family section below].
During the American Revolutionary War, Thomas Hill was a Loyalist who fought in Captain Sandford's Troop of Light Dragoons (1778), which was often attached to Queen's Rangers. In 1779 he is listed as "in regimental hospital." Hill also fought under Sandford in the British Legion (1781), commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton.
1783-1786: 33rd Regiment serving Nova Scotian Command. Thomas Hill is listed as a "Loyalist from Nova Scotia."
~1784 and ~1793. Based on the church records the family is living in or near Digby, Nova Scotia, where two of his older daughters married sons of the Loyalist Isaac Hollingshead. No birth record found for son William (born 1781) in Digby, but he may have been born before Anglican Church records begin in Digby. Birth records begin in August, 1786. Alternatively, William was born in England near the end of the war (William's English birth is claimed in his son's biography).
Thomas Hill was a sergeant [Muster roll source desired] in the Queen's Rangers of Upper Canada when the Rangers were reformed in Upper Canada in Dec, 1791 by Governor Simcoe. The Queen's Rangers of Upper Canada were disbanded in 1802
Thomas Hill landed in St. John, New Brunswick in 1793, with Governor Simcoe. Except that Simcoe landed in Quebec city, not St. John. If Thomas Hill "landed" at St John, perhaps he arrived from Digby and then he would still have had to travel overland to meet up with Simcoe in Quebec or Niagara. Was Hill among the Loyalists who traveled by snowshoe from St. John to meet up with Simcoe?
The Queen's Rangers were first barracked in Niagara (1792-1793), but Simcoe determined that York, located on the northern side of Lake Ontario, was a more secure military location should war break out with the Americans.
Thomas was among the Queen's Rangers in 1794 when they landed at Little York (today: Toronto), and pitched their tents on the River Don. He participated in the construction of Fort York (1794) and Yonge Street (1795-1797).
Later in life he kept a tavern on Yonge Street at Lansing and appears on a list of inhabitants of York, Upper Canada 1797.
In the centennial of the settlement of upper Canada by the United Empire Loyalists, 1784-1884, Thomas Hill, a "Loyalist from Nova Scotia" was living in Home district, which includes Toronto.
There remain a number of questions about the origins and family life of Thomas Hill, UE and also his wife Hannah. More primary sources would help sort out the possibilities.
Some secondary sources say that Thomas Hill was not born in England, but rather in New York (or New jersey, or Pennsylvania, or Massachusetts). These lineages are mainly built on the idea that Thomas Hill is a brother of Nazareth Brower/Bower Hill. This alternative origin hypothesis has not been disproven, but it is complicated by some (possibly) false lineages that were fabricated as part of the Edwards Millions genealogy scam [see Research Notes]. The story is that Thomas Hill married Hannah Edwards and his brother Nazareth Brower Hill married her sister Catherine Edwards. The Edwards sisters were said to have been daughters of a Captain Robert Edwards, who owned the property in New York City where Trinity Church sits. In some versions of the story, Nazareth Brower Hill and Catherine Edwards were said to have been married in Trinity Church in 1776 or 1778. In most cases, the scam was perpetrated on people who had actual ancestors named Edwards living at approximately the correct time and place. Thus, the family names of the daughters Hannah and Catherine may well be Edwards--but the family origins an other details about the family or marriages might be shoehorned to fit the narrative of the scam.
About 1771, [source desired] Thomas Hill is said to have married Hannah Edwards either in England or perhaps in New York during the pre-war period. Did Thomas come to New York as a mercenary soldier for England? The source for the family name of Hannah Edwards (and her New York City roots) remains a point of uncertainty--or even outright fabrication-- because of the many false genealogies created as part of the Edwards Millions genealogy scam [see Research Notes].
When surviving Loyalists and their families were relocated to Nova Scotia after the war, it is uncertain whether Thomas Hill sailed directly from Charleston (where surviving soldiers of the British Legion Infantry were camped), or whether he first made stops in New York to meet his family, or (possibly) England. William, son of Thomas Hill was said by his son to have been born in Somerset, England in 1781. If this is correct, more information is required to understand the movements of Thomas Hill and his family near the end of the war, when British soldiers and Loyalists fled to Canada and England.
Loyalists came to Digby in 1783. The Digby group were shepherded by the Rear Admiral Robert Digby, who commanded the British fleet off New York until that city was evacuated by the British in 1783. Not all of the settlers went to Digby. Other places that were settled by Admiral Digby's Loyalists included Digby Neck, the shores of Annapolis Basin and the shores of St. Mary's Bay.
29 May 1784. Thomas Hill is listed on the first Digby muster roll, with 5 in his family (two children above 10, one under 10). Also listed are other Hill and Hollingshead Loyalists and their families. It is not established whether the various Hill families below are related:
Thomas Hill served in the British Loyalist army for about 10 years, firstly as a member of the 33rd Regiment of Foot, later joining the Queen's Rangers of Upper Canada (1792-1802)), retiring as a Sergeant. Possibly, Thomas Hill might have sailed with Cornwallis in 1776 arriving in North America just before the outbreak of the War in 1776, but this is speculation. Hill may have served with Banastre Tarleton as a member of the during the Battle of Sullivan's Island, also known as the "First Siege of Charleston" (June, 1776). In the weeks that followed the signing of the Declaration of Independence, British Troops sailed from Charleston to New York on 21 July 1776.
A timeline of Thomas Hills(s) on Loyalist muster rolls is collected below. It remains possible that there were 2 different men named Thomas Hill who fought for the Loyalists. The relevant names of the the troops are the 33rd Regiment, The Queen's Rangers, Butler's Rangers, the Bucks County Pennsylvania Light Dragoons, and the British Legion Light Dragoons (a Loyalist troupe, who fought at Charleston near the end of the war). The relevant commanders are John Graves Simcoe, Major John Butler, Captain Thomas Sandford, and the (in)famous Banastre Tarelton
In Canada Thomas Hill was a Member of Queens Rangers of Upper Canada. In 1794, he came to Little York, Upper Canada with Governor Simcoe (commander of the Queen's Rangers after 1777). Simcoe was named Lt. Governor of Upper Canada in 1791, and the Queen's Rangers were reconstituted as part of Simcoe's agreement to go to Upper Canada. These Rangers were composed largely of Loyalist veterans from the Revolutionary War. The reconstituted Rangers of Upper Canada were disbanded in 1802.
A Thomas Hill served in Major John Butler's Rangers (1777-1778)There is reason to suggest that this Thomas Hill is different from the one in this profile. This Thomas had enlisted on the American side, in Captain Robert Durkee's Wyoming Independent Company. He deserted on 17 April 1777 and he is among those named on a bounty list for Durkee's company.He joined the Loyalist Butler's Rangers, just prior to fighting in the battle of Wyoming. After the war, he remained in Bradford County, Pennsylvania and lived for a time with the Indians, then he lived on the banks of the Chemung River, and as an old man he was cared for in Wyoming, Pennsylvania
A Thomas Hill is listed as "in regimental hospital" on a muster roll for Captain Thomas Sandford's Troop of the Bucks County Pennsylvania Light Dragoons (a Cavalry unit) between 25 Oct and 24 Dec 1779, during which they were attached to the Queens Rangers during the 1779 campaign.The Light Dragoons and Queen's Rangers were attached for the 1779 campaign only--during the Sullivan-Clinton Expedition. The Bucks County Light Dragoons, commanded by Captain Thomas Sanford, were raised on April 28, 1778. Sanford himself was captured on June 8, 1778 during the British evacuation of Philadelphia. He was released in a prisoner exchange, then recaptured (at sea) Jan 25, 1780. Sandford subsequently escaped jail on Sept 3 of the same year. Under the leaderships of Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, Sandford led a group of soldiers [cavalry or infantry?] at the Battle of Çowpens on Jan 17, 1781 His troop was frequently attached to the Queens American Rangers, under Simcoe, then later attached to the British Legion in 1779 and absorbed in 1780. These dates of attachment correlate with the British Legion troops who sailed to South Carolina, during Seige of Charleston and after the Battle of Charleston, during the last months of the war.
A Thomas Hill served in the infantry of the British Legion AKA "Tarleton's Raiders" (Captain Sandford's Troop) in 1781. Captain Thomas Sandford (prior commander of the Bucks County Pennsylvania Light Dragoons), assumed command of this troop in Dec 1779 until October 1782. This time span matches when Sanford was stationed at Charlestown from June 25, 1781 to February 23, 1782 to take charge of surviving rank and file members of the British Legion Infantry. It is also relevant to note that Simcoe, leader of the Queen's Rangers, went to Charleston in 1780, following his release in a prisoner exchange. On 27 Sept 1782, the British Legion Infantry was absorbed into the American Establishment of the British army They evacuated to Nova Scotia in 1783.
6 Sept 1783: Fitzpatrick orders the disbandment of the British Legion (under Tarleton) and the Queen's Rangers (under Simcoe). The 33rd Regiment on Foot, under Cornwallis, is retained but reduced in size and sent to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Also on this date, 11 Royal Regiments are ordered back to England.
The following divisions were disbanded in Nova Scotia: 17th, 33rd, 37th, 42nd, 54th, 57th, 60 th (3rd, 4th, Batts), 84th (2nd Batt), & corps of Tarleton, Simcoe, Donkin, & Fanning.
Of those Loyalists who could be traced, originally 50 percent were from New York, 20 percent from New Jersey, with additional representation from New Hampshire, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Massachusetts, Georgia and the Carolinas.
1793. Thomas Hill emigrates (probably from Digby, about 100 km across the Bay of Fundy), along with his son William, age 12 at the time, landing at St. John, New Brunswick. Although he is often said to have arrived in St. John with with Governor John Graves Simcoe, Simcoe arrived from England and wintered in Quebec in 1791. By the time Thomas Hill is said to have met Simcoe in 1793, Simcoe would have been based in Niagara. Thus, it seems more likely Thomas Hill (and perhaps some other Loyalist veterans from Digby?) sailed from Digby to St. John and then traveled westward along the St. John River, until they reached the St. Lawrence Seaway near Quebec City, then sail to Niagara to Join the reconstituted Queen's Rangers of Upper Canada.
1794. Migrated to Little York, with the Governor, where they pitched their tents on the west side of the river Don--the place being marked by three wigwams.
Excerpt from linked Wikipedia page:
After 1791, when Simcoe was named lieutenant governor of the newly created Upper Canada, the Queen's Rangers was revived to form the core of the defence forces. The leaders were mostly veterans of the American War of Independence. Although there was little military action during this period, the Rangers were instrumental in building Upper Canada through Simcoe's road building campaign. In 1795–6 they blazed the trail for Yonge Street, and then turned to Dundas Street and Kingston Road. They also built the original Fort York, where they were stationed. The Queen's Rangers were again disbanded in 1802 with most of the men joining the York Militia—from which many would take an active role in the War of 1812.
20 Aug 1795. He petitioned for 500 acres. He placed his claim in Innisfil township, near Barrie. "Served in America past war for 10 years. Prays for the quantity of land usually granted to reduced Sergeants. Ordered 500 acres when he is discharged from the Queen's Rangers and becomes a settler."
1803. Moved to lot 15 concession 1 West of Yonge St., in York Township, and later to lot 5, West of Yonge St, in Toronto, where he died.
There is an interesting history attached to Lot 23 Con I York Twp east side of Yonge Street, in 1810 owned by Monis Lawrence. The original owner, Isaac Hollingshead (1766-1813), came from Nova Scotia where, in 1790, he married Mary Hill (ca1770-1813), daughter of Thomas and Hannah Hill, both families having come originally from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In 1797, Hollingshead received a grant of land, Lot 23 Con I York Twp, 190 acres on the east side of Yonge Street (North York ON) which he sold in November 1802. Hollingshead then received a grant for Lot 88 Con I King Twp, 210 acres on the west side of Yonge Street, beside Lot 89 Isaac Phillips, where he operated a sawmill in the Quaker Settlement at Newmarket. Isaac and Mary (Hill) Hollingshead were members of the Yonge Street Meeting of Friends.
1813. Thomas Hill died in York (now Toronto), Upper Canada.
Name: Thomas Hill
Birth: Abt 1752 in Somersetshire, England
Christening: 31 Mar 1751, Hatch, Somerset, England, son of Thomas Hill and Jane
Death: 2 Feb 1813 in York, York, Ontario, Canada
It has not been established that the Thomas Hill, christened in Somerset, England as a son of Thomas Hill and Jane is the person in this profile. No immigration records have been found. The biography of his grandson says that Thomas Hill came from Somerset. Somerset is indeed a region of England with a high density of the (common) family name of Hill.
Following the end of the war, John Graves Simcoe himself returned to Devon, England in 1782 to recover from war injury, and he was married there that year. The couple had 5 daughters born in England before moving to Canada in 1791.
Some secondary sources say that the marriage of Thomas and Hannah occurred in 1771, in Digby Nova Scotia. However, Thomas and other Loyalists only relocated to Nova Scotia following the end of the Revolutionary War, no earlier than 1783. The marriage records of some of his children suggest the family lived there between ~1784 and 1793, prior to migrating to St. John, which is located approximately 100 km west of Digby--directly across the Bay of Fundy.
FamilySearch REFN: 9J8N-S4
Emigrated in 1793 to St John, New Brunswick, then to Little York in 1794. In 1803 moved to lot 15 concession 1 West of Yonge St., York Township, and later to lot 5, West of Yonge St. He died there. Also owned Lot 4 5th con Scott Twp, which he divided among his children.
Land and marriage records in Digby Neck, Digby , Nova Scotia give marriages of his two older daughters. His son and younger daughters were married in York, Upper Canada.
The Queen's Rangers of Upper Canada were created in 1792:
As first formed it consisted of two companies with one captain, one captain- lieutenant, two ensigns, six sergeants, six corporals, one drummer, and 194 privates. It was provided with an adjutant, a surgeon and surgeon's mate, a sergeant-major, and a quarter-master sergeant. Recruits were drawn from the ages of sixteen to thirty years, and the minimum height of the soldiers was to be five feet four inches. The personnel of the corps was English, consisting of veterans of British regiments, including a number of Simcoe's old corps of Queen's Rangers, also from the Battalion of the 73rd Foot and other established regiments. Later, on their arrival in Upper Canada, a half-hundred Canadians were added to the corps-United Empire Loyalists, judging from their names.
The Edwards Estate Fortune genealogy scam, involving prime Manhattan real estate, fabricated a number of different lineages--in various forms over many decades--that attempted to convince people that their ancestors were descendants of the original land owners of prime Manhattan real estate, located on the current site of Trinity Church. Depending on the family being scammed, the story would change. Thus, many false lineages were created for the Edwards, Brower, Bogardus, Hall, and Hill families. The specific details of the scam were modified to fit the particular family being scammed. For example, a 1926 version of the scam sent to Hill descendants in Ontario reads as follows:
About this Estate—it is the property in the heart of NY City (77 acres in all) which was leased for 99 years in 1778 by Capt. Robert Edwards, a brother of William Edwards who was our Great Great Grandfather and the father of Hannah Edwards Hill, wife of Thomas Hill who was a son of Thomas Benjamin Hill and Jane Brower Hill. So far as proving your Genealogy is concerned that will be unnecessary as my brother B.A. Hill of New Market Ontario has all our genealogies and has had them proven in the Court of Claims at Washington, DC (my brother B.A Hill has the original lease of this property and we have started and Association in Toronto under the name as you will see of this letterhead I am enclosing under a Government Charter. The number of heirs is limited to 400 but the book will not be closed until we have about 500. I am sure the membership fee is $25 and the dues $1/month until the Estate is settled. Now my dear cousin I hope you will be able to get the money together for your father and yourself and any other brothers or sisters you may have to join the Association as this money is to be paid to the members of this Association only, and as I was able to be at the meeting in Toronto last Saturday I feel quite sure we are going to get a settlement.
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Categories: York, Upper Canada | 33rd Regiment of Foot, American Revolution | Migrants from England to Canada | American Revolution British Soldiers | Queen's Rangers, American Revolution | 33rd Regiment of Foot | York Region Settlers | York, Ontario | United Empire Loyalists