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British Industrial History

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Thomas Hill of Dennis

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Thomas Hill (c.1736-1824), ironmaster

1725 Humphrey Batchelor, of Coalbournbrook, youngest of 3 sons of Thomas Batchelor, a glassmaker, married Elizabeth Hill (c.1703-1762) of Oldnall, a family involved in scythe making and farming, at Oldnall, Lye (related to the Waldron family of scythe makers of Fieldhouse).

c.1727 Their son Thomas was born

c.1732 Daughter Mary was born

On the death of Thomas Batchelor, his two glass works (Fimbrell and Coalbournhill) together with an estate of 35 acres called Dennis and and other property passed to his sons, of whom Humphrey survived the longest and thus came to own all the glass works, land and property.

1741 Humphrey died leaving his wife Elizabeth to run the glassworks, which became known as Mrs. Batchelor’s glassworks. Her brothers, Waldron (c.1706-1789) and Thomas (c.1711-1782) helped Elizabeth run the business even though they had no background in glass making. Her son Thomas also took part in the business but he died in 1750.

1762 When Elizabeth died her brothers inherited most of her fortune and business and the estate at Dennis. Waldron continued to live at Pensnett with his family, including sons Joseph, Thomas (c.1736-1824), Waldron and daughters Mary and Sarah. His unmarried brother Thomas became the outright owner of the Dennis estate; he demolished the existing house and built himself a large mansion.

1766 Waldron's son, Thomas, married Ann Melsup at St. Andrews Church, Holborn, London.

1776 Lord Foley probably leased the Wilden forge to Thomas Hill and Co. from Michaelmas 1776.

1782 Thomas Hill died leaving most of his wealth to his nephew, Thomas Hill, aged 46, who became known as Thomas Hill, Esquire of Dennis. Waldron and Thomas continued to run the businesses and were joined in partnership by William Waldron of Field House, Clent, who married Waldron's daughter Mary in 1764.

By 1785 Thomas Hill of Dennis owned Wollaston Mill and Wollaston Hall, Prestwood House, Broome House together with a farm, an ironworks at Stourport plus a bank, land at Chaddesley, High Park, with mills at Brockmoor and Wombourne.

1788 Thomas Hill of Dennis, in partnership with Benjamin Pratt of Oldswinford, who owed the Gigmill, and his brother-in-law, Thomas Hopkins, who owned an ironworks at Rugeley, leased land from Lord Abergavenny to build a new ironworks at Blaenavon; they invested £40,000; as area of the lease (12,000 acres) was much greater than needed for one works, they sub-let 2 tracts of land - one became the site of the Nantyglo Ironworks, the other was let to a partnership which founded the Varteg Ironworks in 1802[1].

1789 Waldron Hill died, leaving most of his estate to his son Thomas, who continued in partnership with his brother-in-law, William Waldron.

1792 Thomas Hill promoted the Nantyglo Ironworks in conjunction with the Harfords. Hill found that £485 more than his £10,000 capital had been spent and refused to let production start, even though Harford, Partridge and Co had spent £16,381. The company was obliged simply to smelt material in stock, and the works lay idle from 1796 until 1802, when Hill returned with different partners.[2]

1801 Thomas Hill was granted a lease to the Wilden Ironworks for 21 years.

Thomas Hill of Dennis built himself a large house at Blaenavon, called Park House, which became the family home for three generations.

1810 Thomas's wife Anne died

By 1820 the Wilden works were in a partnership distinct from Blaenavon consisting of Thomas Hill and Thomas Barnet.

1824 Thomas Hill of Dennis, Old Swinford, Staffs, died on 18 of September. In his will, he left his property to his sons Thomas and Waldron, and his grandson, Thomas

1828 Thomas Hill, the son, died

By 1838 Waldron Hill had moved to Jersey; Thomas Hill lived in Ross, Hereford.

1857 His grandson, John Charles Hill, established J. C. Hill and Co

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Gwent local history: The Cwm Ffrwd Rail Road [1]
  2. Biography of the Harford family, ODNB
  • Malcolm Johnston (private communication)
  • The history of the Hill Family of Amblecote [2]