William Hillhouse was born in Bedford in 1850, the son of John Paton Hillhouse. In the 1870’s, he was an assistant master at the Bedford Modern School, and began (whilst there) the study of the Bedfordshire flora (many of the specimens / sheets that he collected throughout Bedforshire appear on H@H, with his distinctive hanwriting).
He was instrumental in the founding of the Bedfordshire Natural History Society, and contributed material for a Flora of Bedforshire – which sadly never saw the light of day!
In 1877, he determined to ‘formalise’ his botanical knowledge and went to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was awarded a scholarship in the following year. Between 1878 & 1882, he was assistant curator of the University herbarium and a member of the Cambridge Philosophical Society; he was appointed to a University Lectureship in Botany.
In April, 1882 he was amongst one of the first Professors to be appointed to the Mason Science College in Birmingham (Birmingham University); a post that he held for many years. He spent some time in Bonn working in the laboratory of Professor Strasburger, and this resulted in the translation and publication of Strasburger’s ‘Practical Botany’ (under their joint authorship).
He retired in September 1909 as his health was not good, living for some time at Malvern Wells. He died on January 27th, 1910.
Source material : Journal of Botany, 1910 Obituary written by (Professor) G S West