Sunset at Gowanus Bay

Sunset at Gowanus Bay
Sunset at Gowanus Bay, Henry Gritten, 1851

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Update regarding William Hilton

The family of Anna Brouwer and William Hilton was profiled back on December 1, 2012. At the time it was mentioned that William Hilton's origins were unknown but that one website (The People of Colonial Albany Live Here) stated that he was from Leeds in Yorkshire, England, and that he came to the American colonies in 1686, age 21, as a soldier.

Last week I received an e-mail from Steve Hahn with some evidence of William Hilton's origins. As previously mentioned, the marriage banns of Anna Brouwer and William Hilton were published at the Albany Reformed Dutch Church on 6 April 1693. In the record, Anna, is called "Antje Berkove," while William is recorded as "William Hilte, widr. of Sara Ebb." Finding the record of William's first marriage would be a first step in tracing his origins. Steve directed me to the marriage record of "Wm Hilton and Sarah Hebb," which took place on 23 November 1685 at St. James, Duke's Place, in London, England. The record, with a digital image of the original, can be found at in the "London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812" database, and can be located using either "Wm Hilton" or "Sarah Hebb" as search terms. The record is found at the very bottom of the right hand page in the image below.

Wm Hilton-Sarah Hebb marriage, 1685 (download from

As mentioned above, the PCALH website gave the statement that William Hilton was born at Leeds in Yorkshire. The website has not provided evidence for that claim and when I contacted the site creator a few years ago, I was unable to get specifics, with regards to sources, from him. Steve has now directed me to the birth and baptism record of William Hilton, son of William Hilton, recorded at St. Peter in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. Here, William's birth date is given as 25 September 1661 and his baptism date as 2 October 1661.

William Hilton, Birth & Baptism record (Downloaded from
This record is also found at in the database titled, "West Yorkshire, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1512-1812," and can be found by searching for "William Hilton." The record is the second line under "October 1661," in the image above. There are a few more baptism records for children of the elder William Hilton, although I have not taken the time to download them as of yet. A mother is not named in the records.

The records pointed out to me by Steve, coupled with the statement at the PCALH website that William Hilton was from Leeds is a promising start to identifying the origins of William Hilton. William's profile at the PCALH website states that he was age 21 in 1686, which places his year of birth as 1664 or 1665, slightly inconsistent with the above birth and baptism record. Of course, most of us know and realize that statements of age can often be in error. What is needed in the case of William Hilton, however, is to locate some document or record that links the William Hilton of Albany, New York, with the William Hilton who married Sarah Hebb in London, and (more importantly) documents or records that link the William Hilton married in London, with the William Hilton born at Leeds. Perhaps there are probate or court records regarding the William Hilton family of Leeds that can be located and may provide some supporting evidence. Perhaps there is a record of enlistment, or a muster roll that would demonstrate that William Hilton from Leeds and/or London, was sent to the English colonies in America.

Thanks very much to Steve Hahn for bringing the records regarding William Hilton to our attention. We would welcome hearing from anyone with further proof that links the William Hilton (Hiltons?) of Albany, London and Leeds.

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