Peter Hill (1767-1820)

New Jersey counties
New Jersey counties
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Peter Hill, a clockmaker, was born on July 19, 1767 in the Burlington Township, New Jersey.  He is assumed to be the son of slaves owned by a clockmaker named Joseph Hollinshead, Jr.  Peter Hill grew up in the Hollinshead household and as he grew older was allowed to learn clock making from his master in order to assist Hollinshead in his store.  In 1794, Hollinshead manumitted Peter who was 27.  His freedom was certified the following year in an official court document. 

Hill married Tina Lewis on September 9, 1795.  Tina Lewis was known in New Jersey for her writing skill and her efforts to provide free schooling for African Americans in the community through the Society of Friends (Quakers). 

In 1795 Peter Hill began making clocks and watches in a shop attached to his home in Burlington, New Jersey.  As he became more successful, Hill expanded his estate to include cattle, horses, and several acres of land.  In 1814, Hill moved his clock making business to Mount Holly partly to be near the Quaker farming community which also included a paper mill and an iron works. 

Two Peter Hill clocks survived the era.  The first is a clock made for his neighbor, Rowland Jones, in 1812 which is now located in Westtown School in Westtown, Pennsylvania.  The second is a tall case clock which is now held in the National Museum of History and Technology of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

On February 20, 1820, Peter Hill bought a brick dwelling house and a lot of land in Mount Holly.  He died later in the same year, 1820.