A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.


Wills Hill (Lord Hillsborough)

30 May 1718 - 7 October 1793

Wills Hill (Lord Hillsborough) was elected to Parliament in 1741 and took his seat in the House of Lords in 1756. In 1763 he was appointed president of the Board of Trade and Foreign Plantations, resigning in 1765, but returning to the post when William Pitt became prime minister in 1766. In 1768, Hillsborough became secretary of state for the colonies as colonists were protesting the Townshend Acts (1767). He ordered the Massachusetts legislature to rescind its "circular letter," which encouraged colonies to oppose the Townshend Acts, and authorized Governor Francis Bernard to dissolve the assembly immediately if the letter was not rescinded. In 1769, however, Parliament proposed measures to soothe angered colonists, including repealing all the Townshend duties except those on tea, recalling Governor Bernard, and removing some of the troops stationed in Boston. Hillsborough resigned his position in 1772, and continued to oppose any concessions to America.