Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kapunda Biographies: John Hill

Kapunda, A town of mystery, a town of history and a town with a past like no other. Today I am starting a new edition to the blog, highlighting some of the people who lived, worked, played, loved and built the town.

Some of the ladies and gentlemen I will profile over coming months have long left. Others are living in the town today, you may have passed them in the street and not known what achievements they had accomplished, right here in Kapunda. With this blog, I aim to change that!

To get started, I am going to profile a gentleman who passed away long ago. A man who crossed the sea to play an important role in South Australia's history, and who would eventually call Kapunda home, and be buried in the Clare Road Methodist Cemetery.

John Hill 
Mr John Hill served as boatswain (The Foreman of the “unlicensed” crew) in His Majesty, King William's ship, The Buffalo. [1]

John Hill was born on the 3rd of June 1808 in Cheshurst, Hertfordshire, England. Mr Hill was a skilled thatcher before serving his King in the English Navy.

John Hill's most notable mark in South Australian history, other than coming to our fine shores aboard the Buffalo, was under the soon to be Governor of South Australia, Captain John Hindmarsh.

As the proclamation, declaring South Australia a British colony was read aloud to the gathered sailors and dignitaries, John Hill raised the British Flag, thus marking his place in South Australian history for all time. He was aged 29 at the time.

Mr Hill was soon engaged in the colony to undertake his regular occupation, thatching rooves for the newly colonised State. The only skilled roof thatcher available, he was very busy and was summoned to thatch the roof of the Governor's house.

Mr Hill lived much of his middle years in Wilpena before finally settling in Kapunda with his family. He died at the age of 77, on the 2nd of April 1885, and was interred in The Clare Road Cemetery.

Mr Hill's wife and family were very proud of the fact that their husband and father hoisted the flag on proclamation day and marked the significance upon his tombstone.

His grave also features a very distinct and different marking. It features as the centrepiece the “British Standard” with Gum tree carved into Headstone.

Mr Hills obituary appears in the South Australian Register on page 2, Aprill 11th 1885 and reads:

Deaths of Pioneers.— Our Kapunda correspondent mentions that bluff, hearty old John Hill the boatswain of the Buffalo, who hoisted the flag at Glenelg when the colony was proclaimed, died on Thursday evening, after an illness of four months. He was 77 years of age, and during his life enjoyed the very best of health until recently, when he was attacked by bronchitis. During his illness, he suffered a great deal. He leaves  a widow, who is somewhat older than himself 

Researched and Written
Allen Tiller
Kapunda Community Link

[1] The “Buffalo” was originally named “The Hindostand” in 1813 when it was built it was sold in that same year to the United Kingdom Navy and renamed “The Buffalo” where it began to ship mast timbers across the globe. It eventually was used to ship English female prisoners to Sydney (187) then travelled to South Africa. The ship was recommissioned in 1835 where it was fitted to house emigrants for transport to Australian Colonies.

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