Doctor John James Hill

In my last two articles, I have mentioned the short-lived Australasia Coal Company (1874-1879), and how their colliery railway was repurposed to build the storm water drain in Broadmeadow, and Bridges Rd in New Lambton. Lambton had an even greater connection with this company, through Doctor John James Hill.

Dr Hill was Lambton’s first resident doctor. He came to the district in 1868 and soon after constructed a residence and surgery in Elder St. At various times he was the appointed medical officer for Lambton, New Lambton and Waratah collieries, and he was an honorary surgeon at the Newcastle Hospital.

But it was not just medical matters that occupied the doctor’s time, he was also a real estate developer, and coal mining investor. In 1874 he was one of the instigators of the Australasian Coal Company, whose mining lease was in the Winding Creek area near Cardiff. He was a major shareholder and served as a founding director of the company.  He also privately purchased 40 acres of land adjacent to the mine, to develop as a township with 340 residential allotments.

This side investment brought Dr Hill into conflict with the other company directors, and as the colliery spiralled into bankruptcy, a bitter war of words was ranged against Dr Hill, culminating in a policy in October 1877 “that the Australasia Company will not employ any man who is residing at Hillsborough (Dr. Hill’s township.)”

Dr Hill was actively involved in many aspects of the local community. He served as an alderman on Lambton council for six years, and was three times elected Mayor. While still serving as Mayor in late 1882, after an illness that had confined him to his house for three weeks, Dr. Hill died on 19 December 1882 aged just 39.  His name is perpetuated in the suburb of Hillsborough.

An advertisement in the Miners’ Advocate and Northumberland Recorder, 2nd October 1875, spruiking the benefits of Doctor Hill’s township.
An advertisement in The Newcastle Chronicle, 15th September 1874, showing that Doctor Hill’s surgery was used for mining matters as well as medical.

The article above was first published in the March 2017 edition of the Lambton & New Lambton Local.

Portrait of Doctor John James Hill, from Scott McEwan family tree on Used with permission.

Burial place

Both the report and funeral notice relating to the death of Dr Hill published on 20 December 1882, indicate that he was buried in the North Waratah Anglican cemetery. This cemetery was adjacent to the St Andrews Anglican Church in Mayfield, however the cemetery was removed in 1957 and the headstones transported to Blackbutt Reserve. (See the Mosquito Pit article for further details.)

The Find a Grave website however has a photo of a plaque for Dr John James Hill, located at Saint Paul’s church at Royton in the UK. This is the church where Dr Hill’s father Richard served as rector for 39 years. Note that while the top plaque for his parents explicitly states that “they rest in the vault below”, there is no similar wording on the bottom plaque for Dr Hill. While it is possible that Dr Hill’s remains were repatriated back to England some time after his death, I have no evidence of this. My suspicion is that it is just a memorial plaque to Dr Hill rather than an indication of his burial place.

Memorial plaques for Doctor Hill and his parents. Find a Grave


The map below from the Historical Land Records Viewer shows the suburb of Hillsborough in portion 44, labeled with the name of “J. J. Hill” and with an area of “40 ac. ex rd.” (40 acres excluding roads.)

The suburb of Hillsborough marked on old map.
Hillsborough. Google Maps.

Catherine Bradley, a great grand daughter of J.J. Hill provided me with information about various street names in Hillsborough:

  • Royton St is named after the town where Doctor Hill grew up in Lancashire UK. His father was Rev Richard Percy Hill, the Vicar of St Paul’s Anglican Church.
  • Percy Street is named after his father (see middle name above).
  • King St is named after Doctor Hill’s wife’s maiden name, Jane King.
  • Higham Road is after Doctor Hill’s mother’s maiden name – she was Martha Higham.

The naming of Hill Street

In the originally published article I stated that Dr Hill’s name was possibly perpetuated in the name of Hill Street in North Lambton. With subsequent research I now believe that the present day Hill St wasn’t named after Dr Hill – but there was another Hill St in North Lambton that was named after him in 1873, for it was in a subdivision of land owned by Dr Hill. I have written a separate blog article on this other Hill St.

Regarding the present day Hill St, the earliest written source I have found for its naming is page 17 of the Lambton Public School centenary booklet in 1965. This is 92 years after the first mention of Hill Street (in 1872) that I have found in Trove. Dr Hill only arrived in Lambton in 1868, so it would be highly unusual that he would have a street named in his honour after just four years in the community.

An explanation (probably wrong) of the naming of Hill St, from page 17 of the Lambton Public School centenary booklet in 1965.

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
23 Jan 1867
5 Dec 1866
Marriage of John James Hill M.D. to Jane King, at the residence of the Rev. Kerr Johnston, Sandridge Victoria.
6 May 1869Dr J.J. Hill gives evidence at an inquest at Lambton. This is the first mention in the newspaper of Dr Hill being in Lambton.
29 Aug 1872First mention of Hill Street in the newspaper.
12 Jul 1873Dr Hill offering land allotments for sale in North Lambton.
16 Aug 1873Dr. Hill and Mr. Stoker purchase three acres of land at Dark Creek (Jesmond) for the purpose of mining for coal.
23 Jul 1874Advertisement for tender to sink a shaft at the Australasian Coal Company. Apply to Dr. Hill, Lambton.
14 Sep 1874Prospectus of the Australasia Coal Company, in which Dr Hill is named as a provisional director.
15 Sep 1874Tender for sinking a shaft for the Australasia Coal Company. Specifications on display at Dr. Hill's surgery.
28 Oct 1874
27 Oct 1874
Operations have been commenced at the Australasia Coal Company works at Winding Creek.
"The first sod of the shaft was turned by Mrs. Dr. Hill, at 8 a.m., on last Tuesday."
3 Apr 1875The plan of a township at Winding Creek, known as Dr. Hill's Township is on display. The town is on 40 acres of land and is divided into quarter acre allotments.
21 Jul 1875First mention of the township of "Hillsborough" in the Winding Creek area.
2 Oct 1875Advertisement for allotments in the township of Hillsborough.
16 Feb 1876Dr Hill travelling to Melbourne for the shareholders' meeting of the Australasia Coal Company. He has been nominated as director.
6 Jun 1876Letter from Doctor Hill to the Melbourne shareholders of the Australasia Coal Company.
8 Jul 1876
7 Jul 1876
The adjourned meeting of the New South Wales shareholders of the Australasia Coal Company was held at Dr. Hill's residence, Lambton.
14 Jul 1876
12 Jul 1876
The adjourned meeting of the shareholders of the AUSTRALASIAN COAL COMPANY was held at Dr. Hill's residence, on Wednesday evening last.
17 Jul 1876 Mr W. A. Zeal in a letter to the newspaper attacks Dr Hill's statements at the recent shareholders' meeting, which he asserts were "a tissue of malicious falsehoods."
21 Jul 1876Dr Hill responds to Mr Zeal's attacking letter in the newspaper.
27 Oct 1877"I hear a rumour that the Australasia Company will not employ any man who is residing at Hillsborough (Dr. Hill's township.) The company have land in their township for sale, but whether that is the cause, or vindictiveness against Dr. Hill, I cannot tell."
20 Dec 1882
19 Dec 1882
Death of Doctor John James Hill, after an illness of three weeks. The funeral will take place in the North Waratah cemetery.
20 Dec 1882
19 Dec 1882
HILL. — At his residence, Lambton, on the 19th inst., Dr. John James Hill, aged 38 years.
20 Dec 1882Funeral notice for Doctor John James Hill.
11 Feb 1886
3 Feb 1886
Dr Hills widow Jane, marries Frederic Mansfield Mills, at Burwood.

3 thoughts on “Doctor John James Hill

  1. As a great grandson, I am trying to find the headstone for Dr J. J. Hill. I understand that he was buried at “The Follies” adjacent to the Anglican Church at Mayfield. However, when the land was required for a school, the headstones were apparently taken to Blackbutt Reserve near Kotara. I have searched there but to no avail.

  2. Hello Lachlan. I’m a great grand daughter of JJ Hill. Thank you so much for all the wonderful research you have done regarding my GGfather. You may be interested in knowing about various street names in Hillsborough:
    Royton St is named after the town where JJ grew up in Lancashire UK. His father was Rev Richard Percy Hill, the Vicar of St Paul’s Anglican Church.
    Percy Street is named after his father (see middle name above).
    King St would be after my GGmother’s maiden Name-Jane King
    Higham Road is after JJ’s mother’s maiden name-she was Martha Higham.
    I agree about Hill Street possibly NOT being named after him. Best wishes Catherine

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