Hills, Emma Dunkin

Emma Dunkin Hills (b. c. 1790), daughter of John Dunkin, married her cousin, William Hills (b. 1784), son of Thomas and Sarah Hays Hills, on 7 December 1810 at Hazeleigh Church, Maldon, Essex. She was living at Woodham Mortimer at the time with her father, John Dunkin, and William Hills was living in Canonbury Square, where he and his wife would establish their first household. Emma is the one to whom Elizabeth Hays Lanfear dedicated her Fatal Errors in 1819. She and her sisters, Sarah and Marianne Dunkin, lived with Mary Hays in Islington c. 1807-08, when Mary Hays served as their final teacher before entering the world as young ladies. William Hills’s sister, Mary (1792-1832), was a bridesmaid at the wedding of George Wedd (1785-1854) and Sarah Dunkin (1793-1875) on 20 August 1812 at Hazeleigh Church, Maldon, Essex. They all appear in Crabb Robinson’s diary entry on 5 September 1812, when William and his sister attended a dinner at George Wedd’s. On 22 March 1813 Robinson has tea at the home of the Hills in Islington, with Mary Hays, and mentions the Hills again 8 November 1817 and On 1 January 1825.  Robinson writes on 8 November 1817:

Today I received an apologetical letter from Mrs Hays. She had written an angry letter because she thought I had neglected a MS she had entrusted to me to be forwarded to some publisher. I had written to her (as well as to Mr Hills to whom I wrote from Norwich) shewing how little I had known of her application, and she now writes regretting her impatience. The fact is that my very worthy friend has a sensibility which makes her a self-tormentor & a burthen to others – Full of the delicacies of passion rather than of taste, she suffers severely from every mortification & neglect – Such characters are objects of fear to cooler natures & to the indolent who are apprehensive of having their tranquility disturbed. 

On 1 January 1825 he writes: “A morning of calls.  Manning and Jardine not at home. On Miss Hays at Mr Hills of Canonbury – Her sister is still alive but in a deplorable state.”  In the Directories, a Hills & Wheeler, Corn Merchants, are in business at 8 Haydon Square (151) (Post Office Directory for 1812). In Pigot’s 1823 Directory, a Thomas Hills, cornfactor, appears at 34 Mark Lane, possibly a relation. 

    By April 1828 the Hills had moved to Greenwich, probably to be closer to Emma’s sister, Marianne Bennett; her brother-in-law, Henry Francis (his wife and her sister, the former Elizabeth Dunkin Francis, had died in 1825); another sister, Sarah Dunkin Wedd; and her aunt, Mary Hays, who were all living in Greenwich from c. 1823 into the late 1820s (by 1832 the Hills had moved to Clapton; in the 1841 census they were living in Grove Street, Hackney, not far from Mary Hays). In fact, after 1817 Mary Hays never lives far from her favorite nieces. On 10 April 1828 Crabb Robinson writes: “Walked to Greenwich and visited Mrs Hays there. I had intended to dine with Will: Benecke but I was persuaded to alter my plan. I therefore went after a short walk with Mrs H: to Mr W: B: and had a chat of several hours with Mrs B: and the two young ladies and Mr W: B: - Mr B: the father being in Wales, trying to dispose of an unprofitable manufactory there. I returned to Mrs Hills with whom Mrs Hays lives – and dined with Mr Hills & young Wheeler. Old Mrs H: is turned of 70 – quite an invalide – Hills is a respectable man – But the afternoon was rather unpleasant – Mrs H: could not help reproaching me with drowsiness and she was as usual disputatious and rude in disputing.”