Thomas Wright Hill was born in Kidderminster, the son of a baker, on 24 April 1763 and died on 13 June 1851. He was educated at a school kept by Dr Addington, a dissenting minister at Market Harborough and then at Kidderminster Grammar School, and at one time contemplated being apprenticed to an attorney. He had early developed an interest in scientific matters and was apprenticed to a brassfounder in Birmingham at the age of fourteen, which he found uncongenial. Here he became a member of the New Meeting, whose minister Joseph Priestley was a great influence on him: he abandoned his earlier Calvinism and became a Unitarian, also attending the lectures that Priestley gave for the younger part of the congregation. Priestley influenced him in other ways: he became a lifelong supporter of constitutional Parliamentary reform. He continued his interest in science, on which he lectured at the Birmingham Philosophical Institution. His experience as a Sunday School teacher at the New Meeting led him – after a disastrous business venture – to open a school, partly for the education of his own children, in 1803, at Hill Top, on the outskirts of Birmingham. His pupils there included Edwin Guest, afterwards Master of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and Benjamin Hall Kennedy. The financial affairs of the school were taken over by his son Rowland, later to be inventor of the penny post. The school itself moved to Hazlewood in 1819 and then to Tottenham in 1827, where he remained until his death.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.