George Hilliard, lumber merchant and manufacturer, and member of Parliament for the west riding of the county of Peterboro,’ is a native of the county of Dundas, Ontario, and was born at Morrisburg, on the 28th of May, 1826. The family went into Great Britain from Normandy with William the Conqueror. Christopher Hilliard, the father of our subject, was a native of Ireland, born the 25th December, 1789, at Tralee, county of Kerry. He had three brothers, all of whom, with himself, obtained commissions in the army. William, the eldest brother, had a commission in the 63rd regiment; Robert, the second, in the 89th. Both died in the West Indies. Christopher, the third son, and Morgan, the fourth, went into the 5th regiment. Morgan was killed in the first battle he went into, viz, Talavera. Christopher entered the British army at the age of 18 years as Lieutenant and served in the following general engagements; all between July, 1809, and April, 1814; Talavera, Badajos, Busago, Almedia, or Fuentes D’Onoro, Salamanca, Cuidad Rodrego, Vittoria, Nive, Nivelle, Orthes, Touloae. He was also engaged in several hard fought battles in the Pyrenees. The noble 5th regiment, to which he belonged, occupied the left wing in the battle of Talavera, which withstood the spirited attack of the French light dragoons. The brunt of the battle fell upon the left wing, which held their position for eight hours, until relieved by the 48th regiment, and routed the enemy. In 1814 the regiment was ordered to America, and returned the same year to the continent; remained there five years, and was then ordered to the West Indies. Not caring to take a wife and two children there, he retired on half pay, then returned to Canada, and settled in Williamsburgh. He married Catharine, second daughter of Daniel Myer, in the year 1814, while the regiment was in Canada. Her ancestors, on her father’s side, came from Darmstadt, in Germany, and first settled in the Mohawk valley in Sceharie County, New York. Her mother’s ancestors were also of German descent; came to the country about the same time as the Myers; also settled in Schoharie county. Both families were Loyalists. The Myer family, upon the breaking out of the American revolution, came to Canada and settled in Williamsburgh, preferring to sacrifice their property in the United States, than to give up the old flag. By so doing, their property, which was very valuable, being composed of mills, in two counties, was confiscated. Williamsburgh was at that time little better than a wilderness, and exposed them to great hardships, necessitating them to twice endure the inconvenience of pioneer life.
Christopher and Catherine Hilliard had eleven children, six sons and five daughters, of whom three sons and four daughters are still living. The youngest son, Arthur Wellesley, now dead, was named after the noble Duke of Wellington.
Mr. Hilliard received an ordinary English education in the common school of Morrisburg; at fifteen years of age became a clerk there in a store; in 1847 moved to Peterboro, where he continued in the situation of a clerk until 1852; had the management of the lumber business for another man from the last date until 1861, when he went into the same business for himself, and still continues it, manufacturing from 4,000,000 to 5,000,000 feet of sawn lumber annually.
Mr. Billiard has attended very closely to his business, with the exception of being a trustee of the Collegiate Institute at Peterboro, he has held no civil office, we believe, until he was elected to the House of Commons by the Conservative party, in the autumn of 1878. He is on the committees on railways and telegraphs, and banking and commerce, and is a rather quiet member of the House, doing more work than talking.
Mr. Hilliard is a steward and trustee of the George street Methodist church, Peterboro, of which he has been a communicant, and is a man of solid christian character.
He was married, in 1862, to Miss Eliza G. Gove, of Ackworth, New Hampshire, daughter of Hon. Jonathan Gove, for years a member of the New Hampshire legislature, the Goves for more than half a century being one of the leading families in that State; they have five children and have lost two.