Sir George Hill

I am a great admirer and frequent user of Wikipedia, and make a small financial contribution to it each year (I’ll give more once I win the lottery). But some of its biographical articles about long-dead folk are less than fully accurate, perhaps because they’re based on older sources, more inclined to be polite about their subjects.

Here, for example, is the Wikipedia piece about Sir George Hill, an ornament of the Orange Order who was an MP and Vice-Treasurer of Ireland. Not a hint there that Hill was at the very least careless and utterly incompetent as Vice-Treasurer. Here is what Thomas Spring Rice said about Hill in the House of Commons on 31 August 1831, after Hill had escaped to become Governor of Saint Vincent:

[…] between five and six years ago, a balance of several hundred pounds had been due from the Vice-Treasurer of Ireland to the public. At that period the Treasury arranged that £10000 should be issued annually, on account, to the Vice-Treasurer, and that he should every year deliver in his attested account, duly vouched, of the expenditure of the money, in the same way as all other public officers.

Urgent and repeated calls had been made upon the Vice-Treasurer to render his accounts; but this he had neglected to do, alleging, as his reason, that the difficulty arose from a part of the papers being in Ireland and a part in England, and making various other excuses.

At length the Vice-Treasurer, Sir George Hill, was appointed Governor of St. Vincent’s, in the West Indies, and he left this country without rendering any account whatever of the public money intrusted to his care. In consequence of further applications, Sir George Hill had at last rendered in his accounts, but they were unsupported by vouchers, and were altogether in a condition which made it impossible that they could be audited, examined, or passed.

Assuming, however, that the accounts were correct, it appeared by Sir George Hill’s own showing, that he was in debt to the public the sum of £2180. He had been called upon to pay this balance, and to put his accounts in a state, so that it might be ascertained whether he was not indebted to a larger amount.

Neither of these requisitions had he complied with, but he had written to the Treasury Board to say, that his nephew, Mr Hill, who was in Ireland, would pay the balance for him. Application had consequently been made to this Mr Hill, and the only result was, that that gentleman had declared his willingness to pay the money when Sir George Hill directed him to do so. This he supposed Sir George had not done, for the money had not yet been paid.

You can read the full debate here; Daniel O’Connell put his finger on it:

Mr. O’Connell thought he was now justified in calling this matter a neat bit of peculation.

The History of Parliament has more on Hill here.

On 18 July 1832 Thomas Spring Rice reported to the House of Commons that

… the sum which had been due from Sir George Hill, the late Vice-Treasurer of Ireland, to the Government, had all been paid up.

He did not say who paid it.

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