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Biographical entry Hill, Alexander (1856 - 1929)

OBE; MRCS April 21st 1880; FRCS (by election) April 11th 1907; MA MD Cantab 1885.

Loughton, Essex, UK
28 February 1929
Southampton, UK
General surgeon


Son of John Hill, a member of the London Stock Exchange; born at Loughton, Essex, and educated at University College School. He matriculated at Cambridge in 1874 as a scholar of Downing College, and graduated BA in 1877, after obtaining a first class in the Natural Science Tripos. He then entered St Bartholomew's Hospital, took the MD degree, and was elected a Fellow of Downing College in 1880. There he lectured lucidly and charmingly on histology and the anatomy of the brain. He was elected Master of Downing College in 1888 and served as Vice-Chancellor of the University for the years 1897-1899, when he entertained the Mayor and Corporation of Cambridge at an official banquet in the hall of Downing College. He thereby perpetuated the foundation of happy relations between the town and the university.

Hill desired to remodel Downing College somewhat on the lines of All Souls' College, Oxford. The proposal did not commend itself to the governing body, and he resigned his mastership in 1907. He accepted the post of Principal of University College, Southampton, in 1912, and retained it until the end of the European War, when he was elected Vice-President. During the War he acted as Medical Officer to the Military Hospital which was established in the residential hostel of the Southampton College, and made cross-channel voyages in hospital ships in charge of the wounded. From 1922 he represented the University of Cambridge on the governing body of University College, Southampton. He served from 1901-1906 as a Treasury Commissioner to report on the various University Colleges of England, and from 1888-1908 he was Chairman of the National Home Reading Union which stimulated a love of learning among quiet fireside readers.

He married in 1878 Emma, daughter of Benjamin Woodward, of Liverpool, who survived him with a son and daughter. He died at Southampton after some months of failing health on Feb 28th, 1929.

Hill devoted himself unselfishly to the cause of education in the humbler as well as in the higher spheres. He attained eminence as a public speaker and was able to attract as large audiences as any other scientific teacher of the day. He did not, however, allow his zeal for education to wean him entirely from scientific pursuits, for he was Hunterian Professor of Comparative Anatomy and Physiology at the Royal College of Surgeons in 1885-1886, when he gave three lectures on "The Mutual Relation of the Grey Masses of the Cerebrospinal System and their Connections with Peripheral Nerves". He was President of the Neurological Society in 1896.

Hill published in the Philosophical Trans. Roy. Soc., 1893, clxxxiv, B, 367, a paper on Ornithorhynchus ; and another on the Cerebral Hippocampus, Ibid, 389.
His well-annotated translation of Obersteiner's Central Nervous Organs attained a wide circulation.
A Primer of Physiology, 1901.
Notes to Browning's Poems.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England