HILTON, WINTHROP, colonel, military leader of New Hampshire; b. c. 1671, probably at Dover, N.H., son of Edward Hilton and Ann Dudley, the grand-daughter of Governors John Winthrop and Thomas Dudley; married Ann, daughter of Humphrey Wilson; d. 23 June 1710 (o.s.) at Epping, near Exeter, N.H.
Little is known of Hilton’s early years, which were probably spent in the family’s fishing and lumbering operation. He seems to have been active in the mast-making business to the time of his death. By the winter of 1703 he had risen to the rank of major in the provincial forces and was leading parties against the Indians (principally the Abenakis). Although his efforts at this time were not successful, he was to earn the bitter hatred of the Indians for his later successes. In 1704 he was appointed a lieutenant-colonel and served under Colonel Benjamin Church on his expedition along the eastern coast to Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, N.S.). During the winter of 1704/5, Hilton led a force of 250 English and 20 Indians against the Abenaki settlement at Norridgewock (Narantsouak) on the Kennebec where the Jesuit Father Rale had built a church and mission. The heavy snow delayed Hilton’s force, and Father Rale and the Indians evacuated the village before they arrived. The New Englanders burned the abandoned wigwams and chapel.
In the spring of 1706 Hilton led a small force of 24 men to the Penobscot, and went as far as Chignecto, but had only limited success. In the summer, with 64 men, he marched against a large body of French and Indians who were on their way to the Piscataqua, but he had to return owing to lack of provisions. In December Hilton was appointed a judge of the Court of Common Pleas. After an unsuccessful attempt to reach Norridgewock in February 1706/7, Hilton was put in command of a regiment of 220 men, which was to form part of a larger force under Colonel John March, heading east against Port-Royal. This force, which sailed in May 1707, consisted of over 1,000 soldiers and almost 500 sailors. Though they greatly outnumbered the Port-Royal forces, the New Englanders failed in two attempts to take the town. As did most of the officers, Hilton had to struggle to clear his name from the disgrace associated with this expedition in the minds of fellow New Englanders.
The next few years saw Hilton leading various other military expeditions, with little success, for example, in 1708/9 he went with 170 men against Pigwacket (Pequawket, modern Fryeburg, Me.) and Norridgewock, but failed to encounter the enemy. In the autumn of 1709 or early spring of 1710, he was appointed a member of the provincial council, but died before he could take up his appointment. Hilton was killed in an Indian raid as he and some of his associates in the mast business were barking trees at Epping, N.H. He was buried near by, on his own land on the west bank of the river, and was survived by his wife and four daughters. A son, Winthrop, was born posthumously. Hilton had considerable land holdings and many areas in New Hampshire bear his name. Dover, settled by the family, was originally known as Hilton’s Point.
“Mass. Archives,” II, 156c. Mass. Hist. Soc., Belknap papers, 61.A.18–38; Greenough Coll. Coll. de manuscrits relatifs à la N.-F., II. Documentary hist. of Maine, IX. Hutchinson, Hist. of Mass.-bay (1768), II. Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 6th ser., III (1889). PRO, CSP, Col., 1704–5, 1706–8, 1708–9, 1711–12. New Eng. Hist. and Geneal. Register, I (1847), 71; VII (1853), 51–52; XXVI (1872), 435. James Savage, A genealogical dictionary of the first settlers of New England . . . (4v., Boston, 1860–62; 2d ed., Baltimore, 1965), II. C. H. Bell, History of the town of Exeter, New Hampshire (Exeter, 1888). Coleman, New England captives, I. Murdoch, History of Nova-Scotia, I. J. G. Palfrey, History of New England (4v., Boston, 1858–75), IV. Parkman, A half-century of conflict (1893), I. Rameau de Saint-Père, Une colonie féodale, I. Sylvester, Indian wars, III.