Born in Woodhouse in early 1851, to parents William, an agricultural labourer and Sarah Ann Wootton, a lace turner, he was baptised on 9th February. At the end of March, the family were living in School House Lane, Woodhouse, with their other two children, Mary, aged 9 and Benjamin, 7, together with Sarah’s two sisters, Jane and Ann.
At the age of twenty, he was an apprentice blacksmith to Thomas Kent and living with the family in Newbold Verdon, Leicestershire. He married his wife, Sarah Ann Ball, in 1872, whilst living at Newbold Verdon. Here they had two daughters, before moving to the Belgrave area of Leicester prior to 1878, where they had another two daughters. By 1881, the family appear to have been temporarily separated; John living with his mother and two siblings at No. 19, Buckhorn Square, Loughborough and his wife at No. 34, Victoria Road, Belgrave, Leicester, with their four children, Elizabeth, aged 8, Mary, 6, Anna, 3 and Sarah just 2 months. At the time, John Hill was still working as a blacksmith, possibly for Messenger & Co.; he went on to become a hot water engineer, probably installing heating systems for the firm’s clients. The family appear to have been re-united soon afterwards because, between 1884 and 1895; they had four further children, two daughters and two sons, all born in Loughborough, whilst they were living at No. 41, Regent Street between 1883 and 1890. Just prior to the 1891 census, the family moved further along the road to No. 25; where they remained until John Hill’s death in 1931.
In 1901, they were living with their four daughters, Annie, aged 23, Sarah, 20, Elizabeth, 17, and Florence Beatrice, 13, all working in either the hosiery or textile industries; two boys, Frank, aged 10, and Albert, 6, both at school. The couple had eleven children, 9 of whom were still living in 1911; amongst the girls, only Florence was still living at home, together with her two younger brothers, Frank, a fitter and Albert Edward, a trimmer, all unmarried. Also, living with them was their grandson, Tommy, aged 8 and a visitor, William Powell, aged 26, a coach maker at a joinery works in the town.