Hill, Abraham

, a learned English gentleman, fellow and treasurer of the royal society, one of the lords of trade, and comptroller to the archbishop of Canterbury, was descended of an ancient and honourable family of that name, seated at Shilston, in Devonshire, and was the son of Richard Hill, of Shilston, esq. His father was bred to mercantile business, which he pursued with great success, was chosen an alderman of London, and v.as much in the | confidence of the Long-parliament, and of Cromwell and his statesmen. Abraham, his eldest son, was born April 18, 1633, at his father’s house, in St. Botolph’s parish by Billingsgate, and after a proper education, was introduced into his business. He was also an accomplished scholar in the Greek, Latin, French, Dutch, and Italian languages, and was considered as one of very superior literary attainments. On his father’s death in 1659, he became possessed of an ample fortune, and that he might, with more ease, prosecute his studies, he hired chambers in Gresham college, where he had an opportunity of conversing with learned men, and of pursuing natural philosophy, to which he was much attached. He was one of the first eucouragers of the royal society, and on its first institution became a fellow, and in 1663 their treasurer, which office he held for two years. His reputation, in the mean time, was not confined to his native country, but by means of the correspondence of his learned friends, was known over most part of Europe. Having, like his father, been biassed in favour of the republican party from which he recovered by time and reflection, his merit was in consequence overlooked during the reigns of Charles II. and James II. but on the accession of king William, he was called to a seat at the board of trade, where his knowledge of the subject made his services of great importance; and when Dr. Tillotson was promoted to the see of Canterbury in 1691, he prevailed on Mr. Hill to take on him the office of his comptroller, which he accordingly accepted, and lived in Jiigh favour with that distinguished prelate, who would frequently term him “his learned friend and his instructing philosopher.” On the accession of queen Anne, Mr. Hill resigned his office in the Board of Trade, and retired to his seat of St. John’s in Sutton, at Hone in the county of Kent, which he had purchased in 1665, and which was always his favourite residence. Here he died Feb. 5, 1721. In 1767 a volume of his “Familiar Letters” was published, which gives us a very favourable idea of his learning, public spirit, and character; and although the information these letters contain is not of such importance now as when written, there is always an acknowledged charm in unreserved epistolary correspondence, which makes the perusal of this and all such collections interesting. 1

1 Life prefixed to the “Familiar Letters.