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Sir Rowland Hill KCB, FRS (1795–1879)
An English teacher, inventor and social reformer. He campaigned for a comprehensive reform of the postal system, based on the concept of penny postage and his solution of prepayment, facilitating the safe, speedy and cheap transfer of letters (where did it all go wrong?). Hill later served as a government postal official, and he is usually credited with originating the basic concepts of the modern postal service, including the invention of the postage stamp.
Born in Blackwell Street, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England. Rowland's father, Thomas Wright Hill, was an innovator in education and politics, including among his friends Joseph Priestley, Tom Paine and Richard Price. At the age of eleven, Rowland became a student-teacher in his father's school. He taught astronomy and earned extra money fixing scientific instruments. He also worked at the Assay Office in Birmingham and painted landscapes in his spare time. Busy boy.
But there was lots more to this remarkable man. For a spot of company and a swift half or two he is known to have frequented the Woolpack Hotel in Moor Street, together with other notable luminaries of the day, John Baskerville and Dr Samuel Johnson. In 1819, Rowland established the Society of Literary Improvement there. In the latter part of the 18th Century, however, I’m glad to say, this hostelry turned to offer other less academic pursuits and became a cricketing pub, and was for a long time the HQ of the ‘Gentlemen Players’ of England. Not many people know that …
Anyway, whilst researching this incredible Birmingham man and his contributions to stamp collecting, I chanced upon other fascinating character apects, such as cartography and a sort of pre-Agatha Christie interest in ‘murders most foul’....well, judge for yourself, from this link to the Mary Ashford Murder, and his part in it….
The case set a number of legal precedence when Thornton, accused of the Mary Ashford Murder and acquitted but there was sufficient outcry (along the same lines as the modern paediatrician/paedophile hounders) to move to revive the long-disused right of appeal against acquittal.
So Thornton invoked an ancient right and challenged the King's Bench judges to armed combat, literally throwing down his gauntlet. Since they could not respond, the result was a victory for Thornton, followed by an Act abolishing both wager of battle and appeal against acquittal.
Our Rowland Hill was certainly a Polymath. There is an interesting article about him and particularly his impact on schooling in the Stanley Gibbons Monthly mag ... http://www.gibbonsstampmonthly.com/J...owlandhill.pdf
His father owned Hill Top school in Town but he opened Hazelwood School on the Hagley Road in 1819, and in London a few years later to critical acclaim. As there are Blue plaques (anyone have pictures?) at 146 Hagley Road and also in Lionel Street and Severn Street I assume they are connected.
Some associated photos...there may be MUCH more....
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