Richard Hill and His Troubles

Richard Hill made his money not only from the enslaved laborers who worked his land, but also from long-distance shipping. His ships transported Madeira wine, made on the Madeira Islands off the coast of Africa, to Britain and America. In the 1730s, Hill encountered financial trouble. We are not completely sure why, as existing historical records do not explain it well. We do know that long-distance shipping was risky business -- just think about pirates and storms. Perhaps, like many merchants, Hill overreached, trying to get rich too fast. The Maryland Assembly denied his request for bankruptcy, which would have forgiven his debts. Instead, he was forced to sell almost everything he had. He sold not only his lands, but also many of his slaves. Given his financial difficulties, Richard Hill could no longer expect to do much business in Maryland, so he moved to Madeira, where he had many associates.

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This project was developed through a Teaching American History Grant partnership between Anne Arundel County Public Schools, the Center for History Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and Historic London Town and Gardens.