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Lord Hill on history's losing side

Wills Hill was secretary of the Colonies under King George III and disliked acts of rebellion.

By MICHAEL CANNING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 25, 2002

We must stop fibbing to our out-of-town relatives that there's a borough of hills somewhere out by Lithia. We must own up to the real origin of our county and river's name, and its less-than-patriotic connection.

Wills Hill (1718-1793) came from a place where there are hills: Fairford, England. He was secretary of the Colonies under King George III. Hill was opposed to any concessions for the Colonies. Consequently, Florida was his favorite American possession because it remained loyal to England and was a haven for Tories.

Therefore, the river that bisects what is now Tampa was named in honor of Lord Hill, sometime during his time as secretary, 1768 to 1772. Our county adopted the name when it was created in 1834.

All you booing and hissing patriots should know that Hill was once described by a peer as "a pompous composition of ignorance and want of judgment."

You conciliatory types should know that Hillsborough, Northern Ireland -- Hill's burial place, where he and his ancestors sat as viscounts -- is touted as a charming little village with some of Ireland's best examples of Gothic Revival architecture.

-- Source: Tampa Bay History Center.

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