John Hornbrook Gill [Obituary]

Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 1875, Vol VII, pp. 50-51.

Prepared by Michael Steer

A memorial window to Mr Gill may be seen in St Eustachius Parish Church. It was the work of the renowned designer William Morris. He was the nephew of Thomas Morris, the first managing director of the spectacularly successful Devon Great Consols Mine, who lived at Abbotsfield Hall, where William was a regular visitor. In 1864 Alice Morris, Thomas’ sister and William’s aunt, married Reginald Hornbrook Gill, heir to the Gill family’s commercial and industrial fortunes. Ten years later Reginald’s father, John, died. Reginald requested his wife’s nephew William, by now an eminent public figure, to design a memorial window. The result is near the north-east corner of the chancel, and is the single most visited, and most admired, piece of art and design in the building. This extract, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive.  These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

John Hornbrook Gill was one of the oldest and most noted of the inhabitants of Tavistock, having been identified with its commerce for about three-quarters of a century. He was the son of Mr. John Gill, of Ferrum Hill, who originally started the Tavistock Ironworks, and was connected with the construction of the canal, wharf, &c. He was younger brother of Mr. Thomas Gill, formerly M.P. for Plymouth, and was head of the firm, Gill, Sons, and Co., of the Tavistock Bank. Mr. Gill was a magistrate, and deputy lieutenant for Devon and Cornwall, and will long be remembered for the vigour with which he espoused a cause, either at the quarter sessions or in public meeting, his shrewdness on such occasions being remarkable. He joined the Association in 1867, during its visit to Tavistock. He died early on the morning of the 7th of October, 1874, at Bickham, in his 88th year.