Fremantle Stuff > people > Alfred Hillman (1807-1883)

Alfred Hillman

Alfred Hillman was sent out from Britain by Sir George Murray to fill an appointment of draftsman in the Survey Office of Western Australia. He arrived in Perth the 26 April 1831. He filled this role until October 1832, when he was appointed an Assistant Surveyor and posted to Albany to replace Raphael Clint. He was back in Perth by mid 1834, returning to his role as Draftsman, but he also undertook surveying tasks along with the drafting. He explored and surveyed the Perth to Albany Road. He served as Assistant Surveyor, Draftsman and Lithographer. In many of the early plans of Western Australia the work of Hillman and Roe is easily identified. He left the Surveying department in 1863 to become Sheriff and retired in 1873. He died in London.
Six of the earliest drafts of plans of townsites in Western Australia were his work. These plans were for Fremantle, Perth, Kingstown, Guildford, Kelmscott, Albany and Augusta which were all drafted in 1832 and sent to the Colonial Office in London. Here they were kept in the Colonial Office Map Library. On all of these plans he identifies himself as 'Colonial Draftsman'.
These plans remain in the National Archives of the United Kingdom. Copies have been sought for the State Archives of Western Australia. (Sept 2010)
"Western Australian Exploration", Volume 1 1826-1835, p.583 (Principal Editor Joanne Shoobert, Hesperian Press, Perth 2005). Information obtained from Brian Goodchild, Landgate. Perth. 2010

British Map Engravers:
Draughtsman, surveyor and lithographer. Produced Townsite of Perth in Western Australia from actual survey 1838 (ms); lithographed Robert Austin, Map shewing Asst. Surveyor R. Austin’s route into the interior of Western Australia 1854; Francis Thomas Gregory, Western Australia, exploration of the Murchison & Gascoyne Rivers 1859, etc.
Born at Deptford Dockyard 21 Nov 1807 and baptised 29 Dec 1807 at St. Mary Magdalene Woolwich — the son of James Hillman, a builder, and his wife Elizabeth Stone, who had married at Portsea in 1797. Hillman was sent out by Sir George Murray to fill an appointment of draughtsman in the Survey Office of Western Australia, arriving at Perth on the Atwick 26 Apr 1831. In October 1832 he was promoted to Assistant Surveyor and posted to Albany to replace Raphael Clint. A public memorial plaque erected in Perth in 1977 reads “during his service he prepared the first plan of Perth as it was to develop and largely as it still remains. He did much of the first surveying of Albany District, of the Avon Valley, and other country townsites. The route for the highway from Perth to Albany was opened up and surveyed by him. After residing in Albany from 1832 to 1840 he built and lived in Ivy Cottage on Lot 124 St. George’s Terrace”. A map showing Hillman’s expeditions in Western Australia in January, October and November 1835 is in NA. He was frequently involved in settling boundary disputes and promoted to First Assistant Surveyor in 1838, and subsequently Deputy Surveyor General. He married Elizabeth Purkis (1815-1901) at Perth 18 Nov 1840. He was appointed to the Executive Council of the colony in 1856. He left the Surveying Department in November 1863 on being appointed Sheriff of the Colony of Western Australia by the Governor. He retired in 1873. He died at Barnsbury, London, 31 Jan 1883 aged seventy-five and was buried at East Finchley 5 Feb 1883. Probate was granted to his widow, etc., in February — his personal estate in England valued at £1,064.5s.6d. “We feel sincere regret, in chronicling the decease, although at an advanced age, of an old resident of this colony, and one who was identified with its earliest history. Mr. Alfred Hillman … shared to the full the privations and inconveniences which beset the first settlers of Swan River. While quite a young man, he entered the service of the Colonial Government, and for 35 years, was an active member of the Survey Department, doing the colony good service in this capacity until the year 1862, when he was appointed to the important post of Sheriff. This office he retained for nine years, when he finally retired from public work, and shortly afterwards quitted the colony where so much of his busy and well-spent life had been passed, and proceeded to England; where he has since resided … from every quarter we have heard nothing but praise of his official abilities, and the manner in which his duties were performed, during his long career of service, together with oft-repeated appreciation of his attractive social qualities. With his death, another of the old landmarks of Western Australian history has been removed, and these yearly become fewer. Mr. Hillman leaves three sons, who all occupy positions of importance in this colony” (Victorian Express, 21 Mar 1883). The suburb of Hillman, outside Rockingham, to the south of Perth, is named after him.
7 Belitha Villas, Barnsbury, London — 1881-1883. BNA. LG. NA. NLA. Trove.

There is a comprehensive account of Hillman's work between Perth and Albany in Merle Bignell's history of Kojonup.

References and Links

Bignell, Merle 1971, First the Spring: A History of the Shire of Kojonup Western Australia, UWAP for Kojonup Shire Council - from which comes the image, from an 1830 miniature, by courtesy of R.M. Hillman of West Perth.

Arrowsmith's Australian Maps.

British Map Engravers page, as above - with a bio of Hillman - also mentioning Robert Austin.

Harris, Joseph 1837, 'Journey overland from King George's Sound', Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, 18 March. [Hillman was leading the company.]

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