Joseph Hill 1625-1707

From Book Owners Online

Joseph HILL 1625-1707

Biographical Note

Born at Bramley, near Leeds, son of Joshua Hill, minister at Bramley Chapel. BA St John’s College, Cambridge 1649, MA 1651, fellow of Magdalene, where he lived and taught during the 1650s. Forced to leave his fellowship for nonconformity in 1662, he was briefly in London before moving to the Netherlands in 1664, where he spent most of the rest of his life, as minister of the Scottish church at Middelburg (1667-73), and minister of the English Presbyterian church at Rotterdam (from 1678). He returned intermittently to England, sometimes displaced by war, and had a role as a gatherer of intelligence for the English government; in 1673 he was given a sinecure benefice in Wales (Llandinam) in recognition. Hill published a revised version of Schrevelius’s Lexicon manuale graeco-latinum (1663) as well as sermons and a political work on The interest of these United Provinces (1673).


Hill is noted as “an indefatigable student and book collector” (ODNB) although the extent of his library is not known. He gave a number of books to Magdalene College, Cambridge, recorded in the donors' register there. He is noted as having been the catalyst of English book auctions, presumably having observed them in Holland; an extant letter to Hill of June 1677, speaks of his “great service done to learning and learned men in your first advising … that admirable … way of selling librarys by auction amongst us”. He evidently attended the first London auction, of Lazarus Seaman’s library, as he purchased there the manuscript minutes of the London Provincial Assembly, 1647-60, which he gave to Sion College. The catalogue of the library of Joseph Hill, minister at Rotterdam, sold in London on 4 March 1730, is that of his namesake, minister of the English church at Rotterdam from 1699, who died in London in January 1729.

Characteristic Markings

A copy of a tract by William Gouge offered by Maggs in 2008 had the inscription “Josephus Hill p[er]legit” on the titlepage, presumably this man. The books given to Magdalene are inscribed "Jos. Hill" or "Josephus Hill".


  • Maggs Mercurius Britannicus 206 (2008).
  • Matthews, A. G. Calamy revised. Oxford, 1934.
  • Wright, Stephen. "Hill, Joseph (1625–1707), nonconformist minister." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Magdalene College, Cambridge MS F.4.33, fo. 13v.
  • Information from Eleanor Swire.