Authorised form of nameHill; Abraham (1633 - 1721); merchant
Dates1633 - 1721
Date of birth16 June 1635
Date of death5 February 1721
Dates and placesBaptism:
St Dionis Backchurch, London, England, United Kingdom, Europe (16 June 1635)
The chancel of Sutton-at-Hone Church, Kent, England, United Kingdom, Europe (14 February 1721)
OccupationMerchant; administrator
Research fieldAntiquities
Natural philosophy
Taught himself several languages and natural and moral philosophy
Entered his father's merchant business and inherited a legacy on death of his parents (1660); purchased the lease of St John's or 'Sutton Manor' estate, Kent (1660) and introduced apples and pears to the estate, for making cider and perry; colleague and sometime scientific confidant of Robert Hooke FRS; Assistant to the Royal African Company (1683-1685, 1688-1690); Deputy Governor (1691-1692); Commissioner for Trade, Board of Trade (1696-1702); Comptroller to John Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury (1691-1694); collected coins and books; retired to his estate of St. John's in Sutton-at-Hone, Kent (1689)
Membership categoryFounder Fellow
Date of election28/11/1660
Age at election27
Royal Society activityRoyal Society roles:
Council: 1663-1666, 1672-1721; Treasurer 1663-1665, 1679-1700; VP 1715-1716; Secretary 1673-1675
Committee and panels:
Committee for the quicksilver experiment (1661); Committee to examine Birchensa's synopsis of music (1662); to review Mersenne on the tenacity of bodies (1662); for the making of statutes (1663); to consider experiments for the entertainment of Charles II (1664), for ordinary meetings (1676, 1680); for agriculture, histories of trade, correspondence, experiments on diving (1664, 1679); for the Repository (1666); for the inventory of the Society's possessions (1676); for the prism experiment in the Newton-Linus dispute (1676); for publication (1676, 1682); for the purchase of property (1678-81, 1703); for the history of Barbados (1681); for verifying entries in the Society's journal and other books (1682); for the publication of the History of Fishes (1685-86) (14); for Estruscan inscriptions (1700)
RelationshipsParents: Richard Hill and Agnes Hill
Married: 1) Anne Whitelocke (d.1661), daughter of Sir Bulstrode Whitelocke, Kt; 2) Elizabeth Pratt, daughter of Michael Pratt of Bromley-by-Bow, Middlesex
Published works
General contextAbraham Hill was an Assistant and later Deputy Governor of The Royal Adventurers into Africa, later Royal African Company (RAC) and as such played a significant
role in its administration. The RAC was a British trading company established by Royal Charter in 1660 which enslaved and sold African people. The company was chartered by Charles II, the founding royal Patron of the Royal Society, which was also chartered in 1660. The RAC was made up of and funded by members of the Stuart royal family and London merchants many of whom were, or went on to become, Fellows of the Royal Society. The Royal Society itself held shares in the company from 1682 until 1699 and as Secretary for the Royal Society in 1682, Abraham Hill was responsible for securing the investment which was approved by the Council of the Royal Society. The RAC held a monopoly on English trade on the west coast of Africa. The original interests of the company were gold and other natural resources. The Company's second charter in 1663 mentions trade in enslaved people, mainly transported to British owned estates in the West Indies and America. The Jesus College Cambridge Legacy of Slavery Working Party has stated that the RAC was responsible for selling more Africans into slavery in America than any other institution in the history of the Atlantic slave trade, and that they ran a brutal regime with the full knowledge of their investors. The company became insolvent in 1708, it survived until 1752 when its assets were transferred to the new African Company of Merchants, which lasted until 1821.
Related imagesDiscover a selection of related images in our picture library

Hill P002091.jpg

Bulloch's Roll; DNB; Davies; Wikipedia
Lyons, H G. 1939. 'Two Hundred Years Ago: 1739', in Notes and Records, vol. 2, pp. 34-42
Turnbull, G H. 1953. 'Samuel Hartlib's Influence on the Early History of the Royal Society', in notes and Records, vol. 10, pp. 101-130
Maddison, R E W. 1960. 'Abraham Hill, FRS (1635-1722)', in Notes and Records, vol. 15, pp. 173-182
Govier, M. 1999. 'The Royal Society, Slavery and the Island of Jamaica: 1660-1700', in Notes and Records, vol. 53, pp. 203-217
Gribbin, J. 2004. 'The Fellowship' (Penguin Books)
Malcolmson, C. 2016. 'Studies of skin colour in the early Royal Society' (Routledge)
Correspondence of Abraham Hill from various repositories is listed in the Early Modern Letters Online catalogue,,%20abraham&start=0
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA6148
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
DM/5/63Minutes of meetings of the Committee for Agriculture June-September 1664
DM/5/21Receipts signed by Abraham Hill, Treasurer, Royal Society1681-1683
DM/5/78'Recommended to Mr Hill'c.1660s
IM/002092Hill, Abrahamnd
DM/5/20Hooke's bills of expenditure by him on the Society's account, and an order dated 23 December 1681 by Sir Christopher Wren to Abraham Hill, Treasurer, to pay Hooke £40 23 December 1681
MS/390/17Bond of Abraham Hill to the Treasurer of the Royal Society23 November 1674
MS/390/115Bond of Abraham Hill to the Treasurer of the Royal Society17 January 1706
DM/5/71Recommendation that seven persons (named) 'do take into their Custody all the Rarities, bookes and other goods and chattells belonging to the Royall Society'17th century
MM/16/39Minutes of a committee 'for taking care of the repository of the Royal Society'3 February 1676
EL/N1/64Copy of a letter, from Isaac Newton, Hans Sloane, Richard Mead, Edmond Halley, and Abraham Hill to John Flamsteed, dated at Crane Court1712
DM/5/64Minutes of meetings of the Committee for Agriculture (endorsed as 'Transactions of the Georgicall Committee')October 1664-February 1665
DM/5/12ANote on an order of the Council relating to the payment of arrears at Michaelmas 16735 January 1673
DM/5/66Minutes of meetings of the Mechanicall Committee July-October 1664
IM/002091Hill, Abrahamnd
CLP/13/13aNote, concerning the great age of Henry Jenkins by Mr [Abraham?] Hill[1697]
CLP/19/56Paper, 'Inquiries for Guinny [Guinea]' by Abraham Hill[1670]
P/0064Portrait of Hill, Abraham1650s
EL/T/59Letter, from Ralph Thoresby to Abraham Hill, dated at Leeds29 June 1700
RBO/3/21'Enquiries for Guiny' [Guinea] by Abraham Hillnd
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