Hill, David and family
1840-1896; e.m. 1863

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Outstanding WM missionary in China, born in York on 18 December 1840 and related to the Lyth family. He trained at Richmond College. and was appointed to Central China in 1864. He gave unstinting devotion to the Chinese people, influencing great numbers by his self-giving love. 'He dressed in their manner and lived in hovels; he gave up all things for Christ, including the idea of marriage.' His prayerful personality and dedicated life were also an inspiration to many in Britain who felt the call to follow him to China. He became General Superintendent of the Wuchang District (later known as the Hupeh District) in 1885 and was elected to the Legal Hundred in 1888. He died of fever in Hankow (Hankou) on 18 April 1896 after 32 years of campaigning 'against famine, opium and disease, against indifference and persecution'.

His nephew, Joseph Kimber Hill (1867-1952; e.m. 1890), was born in York and educated at The Leys School. In 1890 he went to the Wuchang District in China, serving there until 1921 without any cost to the WMMS and becoming District Chairman in 1916. He died on 29 July 1952. A Home for Destitute Boys was founded in memory of his son. J.K. Hill's niece Dorothy Hill also served in the District as a teacher in Hankow from 1927 until her marriage to the Rev. James Clegg in 1933.

Another scion of the Hill family, Dr Philip Keith Hill (1883-1948) was appointed as a lay missionary to the Tayeh Hospital, Wuchang District in 1914. In 1921 he succeeded Dr Arthur Morley at the Hill Memorial Hospital, Teian. Serious civil upset precluded his return after furlough in 1927 and he took up work in Nottingham. The Marxist historian and Master of Balliol Christopher Hill (1912-2003) belonged to the same family.


[Christopher] 'Hill was born in York, where his father was a solicitor. His parents were Methodists, a fact to which he attributed his lifelong political and intellectual apostasy. Though his life was to be the embodiment of a secularised form of dissent, his high moral seriousness and egalitarianism surely had roots in this radical Protestant background.'

Guardian, 26 February 2003

  • W.T.A. Barber, David Hill, Missionary and Saint (1898)
  • Jane Elizabeth Hellier, How David Hill Followed Christ ([1903]; revised edition, 1806)
  • W.T.A. Barber, David Hill, an Apostle to the Chinese (1906)
  • H.B. Rattenbury, David Hill, Friend of China (1949)
  • Geoffrey Senior, David Hill, Missionary in Central China (2008)