Remembering UCI emeritus professor Lamar Hill
Influential historian studied the shaping of British society
Lamar Hill, emeritus professor in the UCI Department of History, passed away on Thursday, September 2, 2021. He joined the department in 1968, three years after the founding of the University of California, Irvine. A well-respected scholar of Tudor and Stuart Britain, his undergraduate teaching, contributions to the graduate program and research activity focused on the intersection of law and politics in the formation of the state and in shaping society.
Completing his doctoral training at the University of London, Hill formed part of a generation of scholars in the field that deconstructed institutions and settled assumptions while illuminating the agency of individuals who were neither kings nor queens but were indispensable to the functioning of the state. This was particularly the case of Sir Julius Caesar, an accomplished lawyer and consummate bureaucrat active during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and James I. Hill’s well-received biography, Bench and Bureaucracy: The Public Career of Sir Julius Caesar (Stanford University Press, 1988), charted the rise of Caesar to Chancellor of the Exchequer through a series of appointments to the bench and other offices. In the process, Hill brought to light the interplay of political interests and personal connections in mediating the operation of the law and ongoing consolidation of state power. The extensive research that supported this study was anticipated by Hill’s edited volume of Caesar’s treatise, The Ancient State, Authoritie and Proceedings of the Court of Requests (Cambridge Studies in Legal History: University of Cambridge Press, 1975). Early modern religion also provided a lens through which Hill explored the everyday life and mental world of men and women who inhabited the archipelago.
During a career that spanned over three decades, Hill helped build the field on both sides of the Atlantic through his service, particularly in support of young scholars. He was generous in sharing his time, insights and constructive criticism as panel chair, presenter or commentator at many gatherings of the North American Conference on British Studies and Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies. In 2006, he co-chaired the first ever meeting of the PCCBS held at UCI. Hill was a presence at seminars at major research venues near and far, including the Huntington Library in San Marino, the Folger Library in New York and the Institution of Historical Research in London.
Written by Douglas Haynes, vice chancellor for equity, diversity & inclusion and professor of history