Biographies of the Early Aldermen

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Rowland Hill

Councillor in 1864-67

Born to Moses Hill in 1828, he worked as a grocer and married Anne Pierce in 1852. He signed both the 1859 and 1862 petitions to the Governor to form a Municipality. By 1861 he was proprietor of the Enmore Hotel on the corner of King and Campbell/Camden Street in South Newtown.

There were many hotels in the area at that time. The Sands Directory lists the Star Inn, The Terminus Inn, The Emu Inn, Pelican Hotel, The Nags Head, White Horse Inn, Cottage of Content, Crown & Anchor, Bricklayers Arms, the Daniel Webster, and Daniel Lambert Hotels. They were large and small. The Cottage of Content now a pie shop) was twelve feet wide. Alderman Hill’s Hotel was 40 x 133 feet wide and needed a gimmick. He promoted a sports meeting in the paddock at the bottom of Campbell Street in the late 1860s (according to Arthur Crocker in the Municipal Jubilee Souvenir). The sports included quarter-mile hurdle races, wrestling, putting-the-shot and climbing the greasy pole; other sports of the day were skittles, quoits and wood-chopping. This was not unusual as these activities encouraged drinking among the spectators and participants; Petersham’s racecourse was operated from 1842 to 1850 by Thomas Shaw who ran the Woolpack Inn hotel nearby.

In March 1863, the second month of the Council’s operation his name as given as W Rowland Hill when he and a Mr C De Boos handed over £75 each as surety for the newly-appointed Council clerk WH Mackay.

He was elected to the second Council, and at its first meeting tendered his resignation as Mackay’s bondsman. However he was immediately censured by William Bailey objecting to the conduct of WH Mackey who he claimed was requesting Mr Newman to canvass on behalf of his rival Rowland Hill at the late election.

In June 65, Councillor Hill suggested the Clerk be instructed to write to Mr Josephson MLA respecting the alteration of the name of Campbell Street, Enmore Ward, there being no less than three of the same name within a small radius.

His campaign advertisement in 1867 appealed to the ‘Working Men of Enmore’ to ‘Vote for Rowland Hill and liberal wages’. In that year an election booth was instituted at the Central Police Office for ‘absentee voters”as well as at Newtown Town Hall so city workers could vote.

He was implicated in January 1866, when Mackay was charged with embezzlement. In May SC Brown, solicitor to the Council commenced proceedings for the recovery of the amount for which the Hill and De Boos were liable as bondsmen. Brown advised that he was ‘legally responsible for the amount named in the bond’. Councillor Munro moved that the liability be removed but Councillor Dunlop urged that Brown’s prosecution continue. The vote was an even four against four.

In July a petition from 306 ratepayers (whom Councillor Munro claimed were ‘a class of ratepayers who represented the wealth and intelligence of this Municipality’) was presented praying the Council to stay proceedings against Hill. Councillors Dunlop and Conley were scornful believing ‘a portion of those had been induced to do so by a false statement of the facts, represented to them by the gentlemen who had collected the signatures, he also stated that a portion of the heading of the petition was an untruth and it accused by accusing them of a breach of good faith’. A public meeting was called for the 6th and it was resolved in August after a lengthy discussion ‘that Messrs Hill and De Boos should pay ‘the sum of £25 and £2/10/0 each towards the Council’s law expenses and stay legal proceedings against them’.

Robert Dunlop repeatedly voted against Hill. Rowland Hill was not re-elected as alderman, but did endorse Joseph Kingsbury’s return, offering his hotel as a venue for his election speeches.

He died in 1876 or 1877. A Mr P Hill, Rowland’s son perhaps, worked as a draper in the 1880s in premises next door to the hotel which by then had been named as The International Hotel (prop. William J Rofe in 1883) and was closed in 1909.

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