This family of Hillmans originally came from Westbury in the county of Wiltshire, England. I am still working on the exact year that John Hillman emigrated to Canada; however a short history of the 1830’s in that part of England is relevant to the reasons for that emigration.
In the mid 1830's Wiltshire was in the grip of a severe economic depression Crops were poor from 1828-1830. In 1830, riots swept Southeast England. Labourers protested the introduction of new threshing machines, which jeopardized their livelihood. They fired rocks, smashed the machines and sent threatening letters to farmers. They invented a Captain Swing as their leader, and he became a figure of fear to the landed gentry. On 21st of November 1830 riots started in Wiltshire. Along with many other farms in the county, machines in Downton, Whiteparish and West Dean were destroyed. The harsh government response saw 153 men tried and deported to Australia. Their protests crushed, the remaining labourers were thoroughly demoralized.
To parish officials, it began to look as if no end was in sight. Something had to be done.
Someone came up with the idea that the poor could be sent to the colonies. On March 15, 1835 the parish power brokers met to discuss the issue. On March 20th, Reverend Clark received a circular from the Poor Law Commissioners stating how money could be borrowed to pay for emigration. In early May of 1835, the first group of people left for Canada. They probably caught the weekly wagon from Salisbury to Southampton from where they caught a sailing vessel to Portsmouth to be placed on the American ship Louisa. They stayed at the Quebec Hotel. The receipts indicate passage was paid for 25 people. They bought things for the voyage such as 200 pounds of pork, chamber pots, stockings, tobacco, blankets, kettles and other provisions for life in the new world.
Our original ancestor who came over was named John Hillman. He was born on the 6th of September, 1819. His parents were George Hillman and Susanna Browne. He had four brothers, James, William, Reuben, and Nathaniel(who was born in Canada) and a sister Elizabeth. I am sill working on exactly what year he came over, and whether, which seems likely that he was the first followed by the rest of his family. Certainly by the 1850’s all of the family was in south-western Ontario. He settled first in Zora township in the Talbot Settlement.