Gainsford Street

       

5 Gainsford Street, Southwark

c. early 1770s-1794

 

John Hays, Mary Hays's father, was listed in his will as a "mariner," and their first home may have been in Greenwich or Woolwich, where she may, as some comments in her correspondence with John Eccles suggests, attended a day school. Whatever the case, by the early 1770s they begin to appear in the rate books in Gainsford Street, with Mr. Hays most likely operating his business from the warehouses and wharves along Shad Thames, the street adjacent to Gainsford Street and accessible at that time through the open areas between the houses on each street. 

 


In fact, in the 1760s Gainsford Street was only partially developed and was also referred to as Blackfields, for much of the land was open. By 1780 that had changed considerably, and by the 1800 map the street was completely full.  By the 1776 collection of the poor rates tax, John and Joanna Dunkin (married in 1774) were living next door to the widow Hays, with the Blackfields Particular Baptist Chapel at the end of the street (the minister, Michael Brown, lived on the street as well). By 1794 Mary and her mother are living primarily with the Dunkins in the home in the Paragon, Walworth. Most likely, Thomas Hays had taken over the Gainsford Street home and would live there for some time before his move to Wandsworth Common.



Nothing is left today of any of the original buildings from the eighteenth century, although the streets are still in the same location. The last picture below is of the corner of Gainsford Street and Shad Thames, which may not have been far from the location of the Hays's home.





The  Hills, Dunkins, Lepards, Jameses, Parkers, Colliers, and other Baptists who appear in the Hays-Eccles Correspondence from 1778-80 lived in and around Gainsford Street and attended meetings at Blackfields, Carter Lane, Dean Street, and Unicorn Yard.


A survey of the Poor Rate Books for St. John's Parish, Southwark (the parish that includes Gainsford Street), reveals the following history of the Hays and Dunkin families:


No Hayses are present in the 1759 rate book, but some Dunkins and Judges are present. A Joseph Dunkin lives in Horsley Down Lane (f. 10). Along Shad Thames is John Dunkin (f. 66), John Lepard (67), and Joseph Judge with stables (67) (£100 tax value) (most likely he is Elizabeth Judge Hays’s father), but no Hayes appear in the book. A Benjamin Webster Seymour also lived in Shad Thames and was assessed at £50 (f. 66); he married Joanna Judge, sister to Mary Hays’s mother. Their son, Benjamin Seymour, would grow up near Mary Hays and they would later correspond after his immigration to American in 1793. Only 11 houses were listed for Gainsford Street in 1759.  One belonged to John Dolman, the minister at the Baptist chapel in Gainsford Street, Blackfields; he served the congregation prior to John Langford and Michael Brown, but no Dunkins or Judges of Hayses are living in Gainsford Street in 1760. It may be that during the years prior to 1768, the Hayses had been living in the Greenwich area (Mr. Hays was, after all, like his step-father, Capt. Hills, a mariner), and Mary Hays seems to suggest a Greenwich connection in her early years in a letter to John Eccles. A William Hill[s] (c. 1715-65) is present in 1759; this is the father of the Thomas Hills (1753-1803) who marries Mary Hays’s sister, Sarah, in 1776. Most likely it was the younger Thomas’s brother, William, who attended John Ryland’s academy in Northampton with John Dunkin, Jr., in the late 1760s. No rate books remain from 1760-67, but one from 1768 has survived. Here both the Dunkins and Hayes are living in Shad Thames, but still only a few houses exist on Gainsford Street, with most of the land between Gainsford Street and Shad Thames being open fields (hence, most likely, then name “Blackfields” for this area of Southwark just to the east of Horsleydown).   

 

The next rate book is 1776. A James Hays shows up in Shad Thames, most likely a relation of John Hays, who died in 1774. Mrs Hays does not appear in the first assessment for the year. By 1776, John Dunkin had built a new warehouse and home in Shad Thames. By the October assessment, she appears as “Widow Hays” in Gainsford Street next door to John Dunkin. Same for December assessment. It appears that previously each family had been living above the work premises in Shad Thames. In 1783-84, John Dunkin and his brother, Christopher Dunkin, are both living in Gainsford Street, with Christopher living adjacent to Mrs. Hays (spelled ‘Haynes’ here), but without any reference to the Baptist Meeting House and the minister, Michael Brown. In the 1789 book she appears as “Elizabeth Hays,” and Michael Brown and the Meetinghouse grounds are present under the 3rd part survey of Gainsford Street. John Dunkin still appears in Shad Thames (his main businesses were located there) and in Gainsford Street, next door to Mrs Hays (for some time she had operated as a wine merchant from that location). In the April 1792 rate book, he appears next to Elizabeth Hays in Gainsford Street as "Messrs John Dunkin & Hays" (f. 26), having by this time gone into business with John Hays. Dunkin also owned stables in nearby Thomas Street (f. 30), so his wealth had increased considerably since the late 1770s. In the November 1792 rate book, Dunkin is no longer listed in Gainsford Street, having been replaced by a Joseph Judge, most likely a relation of Elizabeth Hays, who was still living next door (f. 93). Between April and November, Dunkin had moved his family into a grand town home at 2 Paragon, along the New Kent Road, a home previously occupied by the architect himself, Michael Searles. Mrs. Hays appears in the 1793 and 1794 rate books, but disappears from the books for the next three years, during which time she and Elizabeth (and Mary at times) are living with the Dunkins at the Paragon. 


Mrs. Hays reappears in the 1798 book (f. 40), though the opposite page has a note that the property was “Empty Deficiency” and was signed ‘Thos Hays’ (f. 41), who had married Elizabeth Dunkin, John Dunkin's half-sister, in 1796. He may have taken over the property, with Mrs. Hays still living with the Dunkins.  Mrs. Hays reappears in 1799, but showing a deficiency still.  She continues on to 1802 at Gainsford Street, living on the north side of the street. She appears in the rate book for 1803 but then is marked through and replaced by a new name in pencil. Second book for 1803 has her name gone completely and replaced by a Joseph Prattent (f. 38). At this time Mrs. Hays moved to her new residence at 9 St. Georges Place, Camberwell, a residence in which Mary Hays and her sister, Elizabeth, lived as well for a time. No Hayses are living in Gainsford Street or the parish of St. John in 1804-07, although they are still owning their warehouses on Shad Thames and most likely still own the home in Gainsford Street.  


Gaps in the books appear at this point. The next rate book is 1816. In Shad Thames Thomas Hays is in charge of the warehouse along the wharf, operating in several capacities along with his brother John: Thomas Hays & Co, a wharf next to Knowles; Messrs [John] Hays & [George] Wedd, along with a S. Dunkin [Summerhays Dunkin, John Dunkin’s younger half-brother], for a Mill & Kiln House with Wharf and Grainary over it, assessed at £106, 185, and 208. By this point the Hays, Dunkin, and Wedd businesses had become extensive and very successful, with John Dunkin, Jr., now retired and living in Essex. In Gainsford Street, Thomas Hays & Co were still present (on the northside) ‘for Ho: Yard Grainary Stable & premises where Foggs stood,’ assessed at £120 and change (this was the original home, though probably enlarged and improved from its original state when Mary Hays had lived there in the 1770s and 1780s). On Shad Thames is also S[ummerhays]. Dunkin Counting House and Granary. Thomas Hays & Co also still on Shad Thames with a Granary over the Coach House & Stables, taxed at a value of £212.  ‘S. Dunkin for stables underneath’ at £25.

 

More particularly, the October 1776 Rate Book for St. John’s Parish reveals some relevant material for the Hays-Eccles Correspondence about the assessments for Gainsford Street that appear in the 2nd and 3rd parts (many new houses have been added since the 1768 book, expanding from 11 names to 53). The names (in order of assessment) from the 2nd part are as follows (fols. 167-68, and 176), with at least two names (Ludgater and Parker) appearing several times in the Hays-Eccles Correspondence): 

 

Benj. Wright, Eliz. Benfield, Widow Baguly, Thomas Bowen, Ann Hoskins, Richard Wood, Gideon Forvinier, Ann Gilbee, Alexander Morrell, Simon Lee, Lucy Mesnard, Richard Smith, Robert Lusbie (empty), Henry Clements, James Parker, Francis Currey, Thomas Blandford, Benjamin Ludgater, John Dunkin, Jr., Widow Hays, Charles Lyall, Alexander Lyall, Thomas Heggarth, William Hill[s]

Isaac Arnold, David Burnell, Richard Syms, Philip Warren, William Straughan, William Wigmore, Henry Faint

The names from the 3rd part are as follows (fols. 178-79): 

 

Mary Clarke, John Langford (the minister’s son, most likely), George Edmunds, The Revd Mr Langford, Mary Patsell, Samuel Woolley, William Griffiths, Mary Hutton, John Brookes, David Hey, William Coombs, Samuel How, Noah Squire, Widow Harlow, George Day, Widow Gibsome, Widow Provost, Thomas Gillbee, William Stringer, Richard Goodwin, John Crosier, Robert Harris