Copyright notice

This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Printer-friendly page

Hill, William

by Maury York, 1988; Revised by SLNC Government and Heritage Library, March 2023

23 Sept. 1773–29 Oct. 1857

William Hill, public official, son of William and Eliza Halbert Hill, was born in Surry (now Stokes) County. His father, a Baptist minister, attended the Provincial Congress at Hillsborough in August 1775 and later served as a chaplain in the American forces that fought at Guilford Court House in the Revolutionary War.

Though Hill pursued a variety of occupations, most of his career was devoted to public service. He taught school for a brief time beginning at the age of sixteen. In July 1795 he obtained a position as clerk in the Raleigh law office of James Glasgow, secretary of state. In 1803 Hill moved to Haywood, Chatham County, and worked as a merchant. Returning to Raleigh the next year, he entered business, and during the 1804–5 session of the General Assembly he was appointed magistrate for Wake County. In February 1806 he was elected registrar of Wake County. The following year he became clerk of court and held that office until 1811, when the General Assembly appointed him secretary of state to succeed the late William White. Hill was reelected (annually until 1835 and biennially thereafter) with regularity until his death forty-six years later. By that time he was known as "Old Sec." Hill also served as state librarian from 1812 until 1842, except for the period between 1827 and 1831.

Hill married twice. His first wife was Sarah Geddy, whom he married in January 1803; they were the parents of Cynthia, Eliza, Louisa, and William Geddy, who became a physician. A year or so after the death of his first wife he married Frances G. Blount on 14 Feb. 1833. He died in Raleigh, and following a funeral at the local Methodist Episcopal church he was buried in the Raleigh City Cemetery.


Kemp P. Battle, Early History of Raleigh (1893).

Raleigh Weekly North Carolina Standard, 4 Nov. 1857.

Wake County Wills (North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh).

John H. Wheeler, ed., Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians (1884).

Maury York, "A History of the North Carolina State Library, 1812–1888" (research paper, Research Branch, Division of Archives and History, Raleigh).

Additional Resources:

William Hill (1773-1857) Papers, 1797-1867. State Archives of North Carolina. (accessed April 23, 2014).

"Certificate from William Hill concerning William Lee Davidson's military service in the Revolutionary War, January 30, 1856." State Records of North Carolina vol. 22. Goldsboro, N.C.: Nash Brothers, Book and Job Printers, 1907. 117-118 (accessed April 23, 2014).