Sir Rowland Hill, author of the cheap postage system in Great Britain, born in Kidderminster, Dec. 3, 1795. He early showed a great fondness for figures, which was subsequently developed in the study of mathematics. His first occupation was that of mathematical tutor in a school kept by his father, and for a number of years he devoted himself to improving school instruction and organization. In 1833 he was appointed secretary to the South Australian commission, and aided in founding the colony of South Australia. About this time the defects in postal arrangements began to occupy his attention, and in 1837 he published a pamphlet on post-office reform. By his personal exertions he succeeded in 1838 in having the matter referred to a special committee of the house of commons. In August, 1838, the committee reported in favor of a uniform low rate of postage as recommended by Mr. Hill, and at the next session more than 2,000 petitions were presented in its favor. In July, 1839, a bill to enable the treasury to carry Mr. Hill's plan into effect, introduced by the chancellor of the exchequer, passed by a majority of 102; and on Aug. 17 the project became a law.
A temporary office under the treasury was at the same time created to enable Mr. Hill to inaugurate his plan, and on Jan. 10, 1840, the uniform penny rate came into operation. The post-office authorities were, however, hostile to the change, and Mr. Hill found himself without adequate support from the existing ministry or from that which succeeded it. His scheme worked well; during the commercial depression which followed its adoption, the post-office revenue went on increasing, while every other source of national income proved less productive than before. He was nevertheless dismissed from his office soon after the accession of the Peel ministry. In 1843 he was appointed one of the directors of the Brighton railway, in which capacity he projected several useful improvements. A subscription for a testimonial to him, begun in 1844, reached the amount of £13,000. Y\nn\ the return of the whigs to power in 1846 he was appointed secretary to the postmaster general, holding divided authority with Col. Ma-berly; and eight years later, on the transfer of the latter to the audit office (April, 1854), he became sole secretary.
In 1860 he was knighted in acknowledgment of his services at the post office, and received a parliamentary grant of £20,000, the first Albert gold medal of the society of arts, and the degree of D.C.L. from Oxford. In 18G5 he was appointed a member of a royal commission on railways.