Hills, Sarah Hays

Sarah Hays Hills (1755-1836), an older sister of Mary and Elizabeth Hays, married Thomas Hills (c. 1753-1803), on 6 August 1776 at St. John, Horsley Down. Most likely he was a relation of Capt. Thomas Hills, the second husband of Sarah Applegath Hays, grandmother of Mary Hays. The younger Thomas was the son of William (c. 1715-65) and Sarah Hills (c. 1721-73), both of whom were at Bunhill Fields in the same plot where Thomas and his wife would be buried. The Hills family at Gainsford Street consisted of at least three children: Thomas, William, and Sarah, the latter two attending at Ryland’s academy. After Thomas Hills married Sarah Hays, the couple moved to 34 Minories, where he became a member of the London Livery through the Bakers Company (just as John Dunkin did), working as flour and corn factors. After their removal to the Minories, the Hills joined the Independent congregation at White’s Row, Spitalfields, a church with a similar Calvinistic doctrinal emphasis as the Particular Baptists but advocating paedobaptism instead of believer's immersion (this was the same congregation in which Benjamin Flower was raised). The birth of one of the couple's many children surfaces in the Hays-Eccles letters in 1779.  Thomas Hills was  involved with Mrs. Hays in 1780 in negotiating the terms that enabled Eccles to become engaged to Mary Hays, and in the 1790s, he appears often in Benjamin Seymour's diary (Seymour was Mary Hays's cousin who eventually settled in America during that decade). By 1803, the year of his death, Thomas Hills was listed as being a cornfactor of Gainsford Street, but whether the obituary lists his business address or his final residence is not clear. Sarah Hays Hills died in 1836, and was buried next to her husband and other members of his family in Bunhill Fields. At the time of Sarah’s will, proved on 22 November 1836, she was living at Maze Hill, Greenwich, probably living with William Hills, her son, who had moved there in the mid-1820s from Islington and who was soon followed by his mother (also moving from Islington). For a time Sarah Hills lived  lived in her own house on Maze Hill, even being joined for a brief period in the late 1820s by Mary Hays, who was living just down the street in Vanbrugh Castle. Sarah Hills does not appear in the subscription lists to Elizabeth Lanfear’s novel in 1819. It seems likely she and her children remained orthodox Calvinists, either Baptists or Independents. For Sarah Hills’s will, see PROB 11/1869/100. Sarah and Thomas Hills's children were baptized at the Independent meeting at White Row, Spitalfields (the same church Benjamin Flower’s family attended in his youth):

  • Sarah (born in July 1777 and baptized 4 August 1777 at White Row, Spitalfields) m. William Wheeler at Islington on 21 April 1808 (a “young Wheeler” appears in Robinson’s diary on 10 April 1828). She subscribes to Fatal Errors. Most likely he was one of the Wheeler’s of White’s Row, many being present in the church records.
  • Elizabeth (baptized 29 October 1778) died young.
  • Elizabeth (baptized 23 March 1779) (she appears in the Hays-Eccles Letters)
  • A son, unnamed in the record book, baptized 23 April 1782.
  • William (baptized 21 April 1784); he marries Emma Dunkin [see above] on 7 December 1810 at Hazeleigh.
  • Thomas (baptized 14 June 1786).
  • Mary (born 22 September 1792- c. September 1832 in New York; baptized 23 November 1792) m. Ambrose Lanfear (15 May 1787-30 October 1870, in New Orleans) (son of Ambrose Lanfear, Sr., from his first marriage) on 28 September 1826 at Islington (would seem likely this was his second marriage?)  Ambrose also subscribes to Fatal Errors.

In the Index to the “Record of Inscriptions on Gravestones &c. 1869,” for Bunhill Fields, (CLC/271/MS00897/008, London Metropolitan Archives), under “Hills” there are three references: 4/5, 12/12, and 20/6. Under 20/6 is the Hills family from Gainsford Street:


William Hills died October 1765, aged 50.

Sarah Hills, his wife, was buried on 17 July 1773 in Bunhill Fields, age 52.

Thomas Hills, “late of Gainsford Street,” the record notes, died on 9 November 1803, age 50 (obituary says 8 November).

Sarah Hills, died on 20 May 1836, age 82, and was buried on 26 May. She would have been born in 1755. [This is the sister of Mary Hays.]