Read & Hill

Family tree: Thomas Hill descendants

Fred Brett’s great-grandfather Solomon Read was a silk weaver, living with his wife Matilda née Anderson in various of the yards in Norwich, ending up in Flower Pot Yard, containing a public house where early flower shows were held over a century ago. Tulips apparently were the chief attraction.

Solomon’s  mother was Jemima née Hill, daughter of the famous bell ringer of Norwich, whose amazing name was Peckover Hill.


Peckover Hill in a peel list of 1832

There was a mix-up during a political campaign in 1832, reported in the Norfolk Chronicle. Henry Martineau had inserted Peckover Hill’s name along with other local manufacturers pledging support for Reform candidates Gurney and Ker “in direct opposition to the principles which it is well known [Hill] professes.” Mr. Martineau attempted to set the record straight, writing that Hill had “assisted a Blue and White Band in playing popular airs during the Reform Festival” and had changed his mind about the General Election; Hill had even witnessed Martineau adding his name to his list and had said “I hope no harm will come of it.” Mr Hill refuted this, writing that he had given Mr. Martineau “a denial in the outset… making a complete joke of it… never having voted for the party in his life”.

With more than the usual one sentence reporting his death in the Norfolk News, “On the evening of the 29th ult. [Sep 1850], (Michaelmas Day,) a muffled peal was rung on the bells of St. Peter’s Mancroft, on occasion of the death of Mr. Peckover Hill, who had been a member of the ringers’ benefit society 51 years. His grandfather joined it at its commencement, 120 years since, but the name is now extinct. He was one of the oldest choristers and provincial musicians. On the bassoon he was an excellent player, having assisted at all Oratorios and Festivals for the last 50 years, until within the concluding four years, when, by an attack of paralysis, he was disabled from the further exercise of his musical talents.”

In 1851 in Pipe Burners Yard Norwich, William Butt (a misspelling of Brett) lived with his wife (Jemima’s sister) Maria and a large family, including Ann Hill, his 81-year-old widowed pauper mother in law.

Perhaps the general decline in textile manufacturing after 1825 and Peckover Hill’s long final illness may explain why his wife ended her life as a pauper when he had been a “well to do and respected man of business” and “headman of the Mancroft Company [of bellringers] in 1821”, as reported in the magazine Ringing World.