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Sir Rowland Hill (1795-1879), Postal reformer and civil servant; initiator of the Penny Post

Sitter in 7 portraits
Sir Rowland Hill came from a family of progressive educationalists, and in 1819 he helped his family to establish a school in Edgbaston based on the ideals of representative democracy and competitive capitalism. In 1837 Hill formulated a set of proposals for postal reform, published as Post Office Reform: its Importance and Practicability. He argued that the existing system was too complicated and hindered the expansion of trade and ideas. Hill suggested a uniform postage rate irrespective of distance that was paid in advance by the sender, not the recipient, and proposed a device that became known as the postage stamp. Hill's ideas were implemented in 1840, propelling him from relative obscurity to being a nationally-known figure.

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Sir Rowland Hill

by John Alfred Vinter, after Maull & Polyblank
oil on canvas, circa 1879 (published April 1857)
NPG 838


Sir Rowland Hill

by (Isaac) Weld Taylor, printed by Hullmandel & Walton, published by Joseph Hogarth
lithograph, mid 19th century
NPG D35836


Sir Rowland Hill

by William Overend Geller, printed by S.H. Hawkins, published by and after Abraham Wivell Jr
mezzotint, published 1 May 1848
NPG D35835


Sir Rowland Hill

printed by M & N Hanhart, published by John Alfred Vinter, after Maull & Fox
lithograph, published 1 November 1879 (published April 1857)
NPG D35837


Sir Rowland Hill

by Maull & Polyblank
albumen print, arched top, published April 1857
NPG Ax7310


Sir Rowland Hill

by Unknown photographer
albumen print, early 1860s
NPG Ax38760


Sir Rowland Hill

by William Walker & Sons
albumen carte-de-visite, 1862-1866
NPG Ax68160