A Genealogy of

The Hillhouse-Dickey Families

1639 - 1972

By Bessie Hillhouse Young / Ruth Mackey Young

This book is dedicated to the memory of our forefathers who with their fortitude helped carve from a vast wilderness a free land.


     It has been more than sixty years since I made a copy of the first data received on the Hillhouse family. I have worked through the years collecting records and information from many different sources. By request of the many relatives and friends for these records and with kind help of Mrs. Ruth Young we have tried to compile a book we hope will be appreciated by every one.
     We are aware there will be some mistakes, please forgive as they are difficult to avoid. It is regretted that many of the family records are incomplete, we have used all the data at hand. We believe all families are represented enough to trace their branch on the family tree. 
     We are grateful for all the kind help, names to numerous to mention.-We do want to mention a few that furnished so much information.
     A.M. Hillhouse, a professor at Cornell University at Ithaca, New York, who furnished records on the first Hillhouse families. Also a copy of the book “The Hillhouse Family” by Helen Hillhouse and Laurens Petigru, South Carolina Branch.
     The Sketch of the Life and Public Services of the Hon. James Hillhouse of the New England Branch, by Rev. Leonard Bacon, D. D. and furnished by the late Robert C. Hillhouse of Carthage, Mo.
     Rev. E.M. Sharp, of Memphis, Tenn., furnished many of the records on the family of James and Mary (Dickey) Hillhouse of South Carolina, and Kentucky. Including the Dickey Genealogy, Rev. Sharp works in Memphis State Library and a teacher of genealogy.
     W.S. Hillhouse, of Stoutland, Mo., Mrs. Lora Hancock, Mesa, Arizona, and many, many others. Thanks to each one that helped in any way. ‘ received letters from elderly cousins who wrote of information and were also letters of inspiration. Many expressed their great faith in God.
     The Hillhouse family have helped make America by their labors, sacrifices, and ideals. Their influence remains, and will continue throughout the ages.


     The Hillhouse family, according to the best evidence originated in the county of Ayr. (Ayrshire) which is located on the southwest coast of’ Scotland below Glasgow. The earliest of the name to come to America (founders of the New England branch 1718-2-, and the South Carolina Branch about 1744), were Scotch-Irish from County Derry, Northern Ireland. But so-called Scotch-Irish were in reality Scots whose forbears had emigrated from Scotland into northern counties of Ireland where they, with marked success, maintained their religious and cultural identity. The Hillhouse left Ayrshire for Derry sometime after 1638 during the disputes of the Presbyterian Covenaters with Charles I and his pressure for conformity.
     An early reference to the name appears in a document recording the appointment of’ a priest or clerk for the Parish of Kilmarnock in 1547 which lists the heads of families and contains the entry “Hillhouse 3”. There is a Hillhouse place and postal station in Ayrshire three miles east of’ Troon, and after several centuries the name and strain persists in the shire, For years Hillhouses have resided at Ayr, Denny, Busby, Shaw Farm, near Stair, Hulford, Dundonald and Kilniarnock. There is also a Hillhouse breed of Ayrshire cattle made world famous by Mr. James Howie, a noted breeder.
     To James Hillhouse, a solicitor of Ayr, we are indebted for much of the data on the Ayrshire origins. He died on September 14, 1938, but his daughter, Muriel M. Hillhouse also a solicitor, has supplied further information. This particular family can trace back five generations to Adam Hillhouse who about 1684 leased some 20 acres of land and a house in a village called Fail beside the ruined monastery of’ Fail. A headstone still marks his grave in the Parish cemetery of nearby Tarbolten.
     Ayr, the county seat, is a pleasant old market of about 40,000 population which has been a royal burgh since 1236. It lies between the mouth of the river Ayr, where the harbor is busy with the fishing fleet and the coastal steamers, and the mouth of’ the river Doon which Robert Burns made famous in song and poetry.
     In neighboring Glasgow the I-Hillhouse name is also found. A Kelly’s Directory of 1944 contains eleven entries. The best known bearer of the name there was Percy Archibald Hillhouse, D. Sc., John Elder, professor of Naval Architecture, University of Glasgow, author (1) and a naval architect for a large concern on the Clyde River, the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co., Ltd.
     In his younger days lie had also been for four years, 1898-1904 a professor of naval architecture at the Imperial University, Tokyo, Japan, his family came from Busby, which is six miles south of Glasgow.
     Other parts of’ the United Kingdom shows marks of the  Hillhouse name, especially Leeds, London, and Bristol, but apparently this cannot be said any longer for northern Ireland. Directories in Leeds and Liverpool carry individuals, as well as firms, with the name. There is an Altcar and Hillhouse station in Lancastershire on the W. Lancastershire and Liverpool Southport and Preston junction railway. Old Bond Street, London had a men’s hat shop, Harmon, Hillhouse &. Co., Ltd. Hatters, which was originally the well-known shop “Hillhouse the Hatter” was established in the early 1700’s.
     In Bristol there was a shipbuilding concern, Hillhouse and Company, established in 1765 by James Martin Hillhouse, which later became Hillhouse and Hill. This firm is still in business today at Bristol as Charles Hill and Sons Ltd., and with a parent company, the Bristol City Line of’ Steamships Ltd. When no young members were available to carry on with the Hills, the Hillhouse sold in 1845 its partnership interest. The father James Martin had built a fortune in privateering ventures, and had taken a very active interest in city affairs. In 1752 the father was Warden of the Merchants Venture’s Society, and at one time was a city councilor and in 1755-56 the Sheriff of Bristol. James Martin’s grandfather had come to Bristol from northern Ireland. The grandfather was admitted into the Liberties of the city in 1704 “for he married Hester,” daughter of John Hollister, a linen draper of that city and had taken the Oath of Obedience and paid his four shillings and sixpence.” He made his way up into the world as generally happens with the richer men of the city, turned his attentions to ship owning, joining the famous Merchant Venture’s Society, the Guild, which had already controlled Bristol shipping for well over a century. He became head of the Guild in 1730 when he was made Master. When he died in 1754 he left fortune of’ L30,000 (2).
     George Hillhouse, the last active partner in Hillhouse and Hill, died in 1848. He also had taken an interest in the city’s affairs, having been Alderman and Mayor at one time; also Sheriff and Chief Magistrate as well as Master of the Merchants Venture’s Society, like his father and great-grandfather.
This Bristol family stemmed directly from Abraham Hillhouse of Artikelly, county Derry, as is shown in the Hillhouse lineage :chart. The original James of Bristol was the third son of Abraham.
It is probable the late William Hillhouse Esquire of Clifton and his daughter Elizabeth, who are listed in Burkes’ Genealogical and Heraldric History of the Landed Gentry Vol. IV. (1838pp. 167-68), were part of the Bristol family. William married into the Hoods of Bardon Park. William Hillhouse M. A., F. L. S., professor of Botany at the University of Birmingham, and author, (3) may also have been a member of this line.
     The old family tree prepared by one of the New England Hillhouse significantly contains a Bristol branch as well as a London. But here we must revert to Northern Ireland. If Ayrshire was the origin of the family in Scotland, county Derry in Ireland’s Ulster must be regarded as the second seat of the family. Abraham I-Hillhouse of Artikelly and his wife, Janet, are the earliest known .direct ancestors of the London, Bristol, New England and South Carolina branches. At the time of the struggle between James II and William of Orange for control of Ireland, he was one of the protestant land holders in the north who took refuge in 1689 within the walled city old’ Londonderry. Here he and his wife shared the horrors and the heroism of that memorable siege. And when, on July 30, 1689, King William’s provision ships relieved the city, he was one of the subscribers to a document expressing to the Sovereign the humble thanks and gratitude of the survivors. It read in part:
     “The humble address to the most excellent Majesty of William and Mary, King and Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland, of the Governors, Officers, Clergy and other Gentlemen of Londerry. We the most dutiful loyal subscribers of this address out of our deep sense of our late miserable estate and conditions, do herby return our due acknowledgment to the Almighty God and to your Sacred Majesty and under you to the indefatigable care of Major-General Kirk, for an unexpected relief by sea, in spite of all oppression of our bloody and impacable enemies”............
     The first~ signature was that of’ heroic governor, the Rev. George Walker. The name of Abraham Hillhouse appears between those of Adam Downing and John Mulholland.
Abraham had three sons, Abraham, John, James. Abraham the eldest son, probably died before Ids father because John inherited the estate. John and his wife Rachel, probably enlarged the fortified manor house Free Hall. This residence, at the foot of a mountain about two miles from the village of’ Newton-Limavady on the land adjacent to Artikelly, commands a fine view of Lough Foyle and many miles around. Willliam Hillhouse of New Haven, Conn.., visited the old place in 1789 recorded in his diary:
     “Went out on the Coleraine road till we came to the narrow lane leading to the old mansion house. It has been very large, with pavements, gates, walks, gardens, etc. and had once been as I was informed, a fortifications, but it is now very much in ruins, and great part of the house is fallen down. The garden had been laid out with mounds and walks, and we visited a mound erected by Abraham James hillhouse upon the occasion of his fathers’s giving an entertainment to all the people of the county.”
     John and Rachel had six sons: Abraham, James, William, John, Samuel, and Charles. As the first born Abraham inherited Free Hall; James studied divinity at the University of Glasgow and was ordained by the Presbytery of Londerry. William went to the West Indies and John to England. The diary of William of New Haven in 1789 recorded nothing as to Samuel and Charles.


     After the death of the father and mother (Abraham and Rachel -1716-1717), James Hillhouse, second son, came to America in l 71’). He is supposed to have come with those other Presbyterian immigrants from the north of Ireland. They established themselves ‘ in New Hampshire where the towns of Derry and Londonderry, and the Londonderry Presbytery as well as many Scotch-Irish family names are the permanent memorials of the migrants. In 1722, he was pastor of the church of New London in Conn. now the town of Montville. At this place he died in l 740 at the age of 53 years.
     He married Mary Fitch, granddaughter of James Fitch, the first minister of Norwich (5) and they at Montville, Connecticut, became the founders of the New England Branch of the family. Their son William had a remarkable career as a New London county judge for 40 years, and as a member of the Provincial, and later state legislature for 52 years. He and his wife, Sarah Griswold, reared a family of eight, of whom his third child, James was the most distinguished. He became a representative in congress and a United States senator, and also served Yale College for 50 years as its treasurer. Others of this branch, on which abundant records exist, include James Hillhouse, the poet and dramatist (6); David Hillhouse of Washington, Georgia, the owner of an early newspaper in Georgia (7); and an army major who laid out the city of Macon, Georgia; General Thomas Hillhouse Adjutant-General of the State of New York during the Civil War; Thomas Griswold Hillhouse, the twentieth of the state of New York; Oliver Hillhouse Prince, United States senator from Georgia; and assistant secretary of the treasury; and, in this generation, two university professors at the University of Minnesota and Michigan State University, respectively. The family home in New Haven was eventually bought by Yale University, and the family library of 20,000 volumes became the “Hillhouse Collection” in the Yale library. A high school and an avenue, both with the Hillhouse name, are landmarks still in New Haven.
     William of the Province of South Carolina (St. Marks’ and Providence Parish), who established the South Carolina Branch, was it is believed a son of Samuel (but possibly Charles), and a great-grandson of Abraham of Artikelly. He was born in county Derry, came to western Pennsylvania sometime before 1744, ultimately moved to upper reaches of South Carolina Province, and obtained in 1772 a land grant in St. Marks and Providence Parish for 300 acres.
     Two sons both born in western Pennsylvania were captains in the Revolutionary War (John and William), and three grandsons became Presbyterian ministers; Reverend William Dickey of Kentucky and Ohio, Reverend James Hillhouse of South Carolina and Alabama, and the Reverend Joseph of South Carolina.
     So far we have been able to establish very little of the sojourn of the Hillhouse in western Pennsylvania. The records of Christ Church in Philadelphia show that Mary Hillhouse was married on October 15, 1747 to John Reily. (8) She may have been William’s sister. Marriage of a son and a daughter with the Dickey’s and a son to Margaret Chambers, suggests that William and his family probably lived in Paxtang, Dongal, or Derry Township in Lancaster (later Dauphin) County, or in the Cumberland County. Descendants of Moses Dickey, and of the four Chambers brothers who settled originally about 1720-1730 in Fort Hunter area north of Harrisburg, were in both counties. In Old Paxtang and Derry church records, the names-Dickey, Stevenson, and Chambers-appear all three being family names connected with either William or his son (9). Moses Dickey was a justice of the peace. (10) A Roland (or Rowland) Charnbers was first elder of the Donegal church 1720-1733 (11).
     The tide of the Scotch-Irish immigration into Pennsylvania was heavy between 1717 to 1741. The newcomers landed at New Castle in Philadelphia and moved into western counties where good lands were still available. From the earliest settlements in Lancaster County, they pressed on across the Susquehanna, Paxtang being the best fording place, and began their march through the Cumberland Valley. According to an historian, all but about fifty families out of an estimated 5,000 inhabitants in the valley around 1750 were Scotch-Irish (12). William Henry Egle has written “about the year 1740 the influx of Scotch-Irish was so great that family after family removed down the valley to Potomac, and beyond the Virginia and the Carolina, and this tide of emigration was one continued stream until the thunders of the Revolution checked emigration to America 13).
     An Ohio branch of the family came to America about 1799-1800. The founder of this branch was Hugh Hillhouse who was born in Ayrslure, Scotland but moved to Londonderry, Ireland. In the year 1798 he was condemned to be shot for his part in the rebellion, but being a Protestant and a Free Mason his sentence was commuted to banishment to Australia. In passage the boat was in a storm and had to put into Virginia harbor for repairs. The Captain being a Free Mason allowed Hugh and his family of five sons and one daughter to escape. A sixth son, John, who was an excellent sailor, chose to stay with the captain. He continued to Australia and was lost to his American family.
     Hugh settled in Virginia until after the war of 1812. In 1816 the family emigrated to Ohio and settled near Chillicothe. Later some of the family moved into Indiana. One grandson of the original Hugh named Nathaniel Hillhouse, was a major in the Union Cavalry during the Civil War; another Joseph M. Hillhouse of Columbus, Ohio, served as a Union infantry captain.
     Others with the name of Hillhouse have come to both the United States and Canada from various parts of the United Kingdom, but usually stemmed back to Ayrshire. Laurens of the South Carolina branch years ago corresponded with a Liggeris Hillhouse in Texas whose family emigrated from northern Ireland early in the nineteenth century. There is also an Alabama family that came directly from England.
     Laurens Hillhouse also corresponded in 1924 with a Mrs. Robert Hillhouse in Montreal, Canada, whose family was from Ayrshire. A Saskatchewan Hillhouse stated that his great-grandfather and Robert Burns’ father were neighbors and close friends near Tarbolton (at Fail and Lochlee), and when the elder Burns was buried, the coffin was carried between two ponies, having been laced onto two poles, with each suspended on the side of a pony from the saddle stirrups. According to some correspondent, most of the Canadian Hillhouse originated in Ayrshire.
     Interestingly enough in the rural Ayrshire the name is pronounced Hillus and this pronunciation reappears in Arkansas. The predominant pronunciation, however, is Hillhouse. The spelling has been corrupted but little. In a few cases one “L”, the “e”, or both have been dropped.
     A lineage chart (chart I) has been added at this point to show relationship between some of the components of a widely scattered family. This chart combines the elements embedded in the notes of William Hillhouse Esq. of New Haven when lie visited County Derry in 1789; a part of the old family tree in the possession of the New England Branch but copied by Dr. John Peter Hillhouse (South Carolina Branch) in 1847, and a portion of the chart of the Bristol (England) family which was published in 1950’s. (14).

1. Ship Stability and Trim (1918) and Modern Design (1926)
2. John C. G. Hill, Shipshape and Bristol Fashion, PP. 1-2. 26-27
3. Edward Strasburger, Handbook of Practical Botany (translated from the German and edited by W. Hillhouse, Swan Sonneschier & Co. Ltd. editors from 1887-1924)
4. Margaret Prouty Hillhouse, Historical and Genealogical Collections itc. New York 1924, PP. 5-6


Psalm of Life

Life is real, life is earnest
and the grave is not its goal
Dust thou art, to dust returneth
Was not spoken of the soul.

Lines of great men all remind us,
we can make our lives sublime,
and departing leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing oe’r life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing shall take heart again.

Let us then, be up and doing
with a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing
Learn to labor and wait.


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