John Dunkin, Jr. and Sr.

John Dunkin (1753-1827) married Joanna Hays (1754-1805), Elizabeth Lanfear’s eldest sister, in 1774. His parents were John Dunkin (1727-1809) and Ann Turner (his first wife) (1723-66). His father’s second wife was Mary Summerhays, whom he married on 1 January 1767. In 1797, John Dunkin, Sr., was listed as a Gentleman in business at 8 Charlotte Row near Dandys Turnpike, Bermondsey; he had other business property in the North Granary, Shad Thames (in business with his son, John, Jr., and another son, Christopher Dunkin); and property opposite The Ship, Blackfields (Sutton merchant). For a time he also partnered with a Thomas Brown, also of Shad Thames. The Hays and Dunkin families worshiped at the Baptist meeting in Gainsford Street, Blackfields, during the ministries of John Dolman, John Langford, and Michael Brown, though by the 1780s the younger Dunkin and his family have left the chapel and by the mid-1790s his father and family have left as well.   Along with his brother Christopher, John Dunkin attended the Dissenting academy in Northampton under the tutelage of the Baptist minister John Collett Ryland (1723-92) in the late 1760s. Among Dunkin’s classmates were Ryland’s son, John Ryland, Jr. (1753-1825), a brilliant scholar and later Baptist minister at Northampton and Bristol and leader in the Baptist Missionary Society; William Hills, most likely a cousin of Mary Hays and a member at the Gainsford Street chapel; William Button (1754-1821), later the Baptist minister at Dean Street, Southwark, and publisher of one of Mary Hays’s novels in 1815; William Lepard, brother of Mary Hays’s close friend, Ann Lepard; Thomas Rutt, brother of J. T. Rutt (whose nephews would marry two of John Dunkin’s daughters); and Benjamin Flower (1755-1829), one of many Independents who attended Ryland's academy at that time and who, like J. T. Rutt, became a prominent Unitarian figure in the 1790s. After his marriage to Joanna Hays, John Dunkin, Jr. moved with his wife into the house adjacent to the Hays family on Gainsford Street, and eventually became a deacon in the Baptist meeting at the end of the street. Mr. Hays had died three months previous to their marriage, and John Dunkin, though only 21 at the time, became a guardian thereafter to the Hays children. Both he and his father were subscribers to J. C. Ryland’s Contemplations in 1778, then living in Gravel Lane, Southwark. In 1783, John Dunkin, Jr., entered into a theological debate with Joseph Priestley, defending orthodox views of the nature of Christ and the Trinity in The Divinity of the Son of God, and the Complete Atonement for Sin . . . in a Letter to a Friend (1783), a response to Priestley's An Appeal to the Serious and Candid Professors of Christianity (1783). In 1790 both John Dunkin, Jr., and Mary Hays subscribed to Robert Robinson’s History of Baptism, his address at that time listed as Thomas Street, Southwark. In 1792 he and Hays (3 copies this time) also subscribed to Robinson's posthumous Ecclesiastical Researches, living now at the Paragon, Surrey. In 1804-05 he and his father were both subscribers to the Baptist Missionary Society (see Periodical Accounts, vol. 3 [1806], p. 132).  In 1786 Dunkin subscribed to Eramus Middleton's popular 4-volume series, Biographia Evangelica (1779-86), and  in 1792 he subscribed to Thomas Scott's Commentary on the Holy Bible (4 vols, 1788-92), one of the most popular biblical commentaries of that day and especially popular with Calvinist Dissenters, even though Scott was an evangelical Anglican minister, at that time one of the preachers at Lock Hospital in London.

    During the 1780s and '90s, John Dunkin, Jr., served as a lay preacher among the Particular Baptists. According to Hayne’s Baptist Cyclopedia, a John ‘Duncan’ was the pastor for a time after 1792 at the Rotherite Baptist Church, later Jamaica Row. He had been a deacon, Hayne’s notes, at Mr. Brown’s church in Blackfields, ‘and afterwards built a small place of worship in the Grange Road, but left it in consequence of some difference’ (209, an account taken from Walter Wilson, History and Antiquities [1808], vol. 4, p. 367).  Wilson says Duncan stayed only for a short time and was replaced by George Phillips, who remained until 1804, then left for Birmingham. He was succeeded by a Mr. Norris (367).  At Grange Road, according to Wilson (342), a ‘place was erected about thirty years ago, at the joint expence of Mr. John Duncan, a deacon of the church at Gainsford-Street, and Mr. Stephen Mesnard, a deacon of Dr. Rippon’s church in Carter-Lane, who had each left their respective churches. The meeting-house was opened by the late Mr. Huntington, and Mr. Duncan, the latter of whom had just commenced preacher. The two proprietors did not live long in amity; and after they quarrelled, the place is said to have been chiefly managed by Mr. Huntington. This is one of the numerous places where Mr. Davis, now of the Three Cranes, is said to have preached. It is at present occupied, as it has been for some time past, by Mr. John Helmsworth, and it goes by the name of the ‘Paragon Chapel’ (342). Dunkin was still preaching in 1796, for on 8 May he preaches the morning service at a small congregation meeting in Camberwell (see Camberwell Church Book, Angus Library, Regent's Park College, Oxford non-paginated). 

     John Dunkin, Sr., joined his son as a lay preacher in 1790, apparently still attending the Baptist chapel in Gainsford Street. Mary Summerhays Dunkin recorded her husband's first sermon, but without mentioning the church, in May 1790 and another instance on 30 October 1791: "this morning heard my dear Dunkin from Ephesians, vi. 13-18, concerning the whole armor of God; and I think he was very great indeed, particularly upon the shield of faith, when he set forth the shield as Christ; and observed, faith was the hand with which the believer laid hold of Christ as his shield, and exceeding great reward. This was a comfortable season to my soul. My dear Dunkin's ministry has been much blessed to me; and I have lately found more solid peace by searching the word of unerring truth than I can express; for, as to temporal concerns, they are all fleeting and uncertain" (John Townsend, The Christian's Life and Hope, a Funeral Sermon for Mrs. Mary Dunkin [London: Williams and Smith 1806], 58).  She is clearly not satisfied with the Baptist chapel, and  by March 1793 she and her husband begin attending the nearby Independent chapel in Jamaica Row, led by the Rev. John Townsend (1757-1826), a one-time member at George Whitefield's Tottenham Court Chapel and minister at Jamaica Row from 1784 until his death in 1827. Townsend, along with Henry Cox Mason and the Evangelical MP Henry Thornton, founded the London Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb in 1792. He was also instrumental in the founding of the London Missionary Society (Independent) in 1795, the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804, and the London Female Penitentiary in 1807. Mary Dunkin joined the Jamaica Row congregation in May 1795 (65) and her husband in April 1797 (67). On 8 December she writes that she is looking forward to hearing Mr. Dunkin preach in the Townsend's pulpit at Jamaica Row, quite an honor for Dunkin, a lay preacher (68). 

    Further information about the Dunkins can be gleaned from her diary. She notes that on 7 November 1793, the home and warehouse of John Dunkin, Sr., burned to the ground, provoking a response from Mary Dunkin that is remarkably akin to that of her religious ancestor, the American Puritan poet Anne Bradstreet, who also watched her house burn to the ground in 1666. Dunkin writes, "though a dark and trying dispensation, I humbly believe it was among the all things that work together for good. He hath taken but what he lent, and blessed be his name" (62). She also provides an important statement about Marianna Palmer, writing on 4 March 1798: "O my dear children! the Lord sees fit to send you warning after warning December 5, it pleased God to remove by death, your acquaintance and much respected friend, Mrs. Palmer, aged 24" (67). Marianna was the youngest sister of Thomas Hays, Mrs. Dunkin's son-in-law. 

    John Dunkin, Jr., became a wealthy cornfactor and helped set up in business Elizabeth’s brothers, Thomas and John, and several of his sons and son-in-laws. The Dunkins appear often in the correspondence that passed between Mary Hays and her fiance, John Eccles, during 1778-80.  By 1792, his wealth greatly increased through his successful business as a cornfactor,  the Dunkins had moved to 2 Paragon Place, Surrey, the spacious town home where Elizabeth and Mary Hays and their mother family would live c. 1794-95. At some point between 1796 and 1798 the Dunkins moved to a mansion in Champion Hill, Camberwell, and finally in 1804 to the Lodge at Mortimer Woodham, Essex, where Joanna Dunkin died near the end of 1805. On 10 October 1812, the firm of John Dunkin, John Hays, John Hays Dunkin, and George Wedd, was dissolved. They were millers at Beeleigh, near Maldon, Essex, under the name John Dunkin and Co. They were also flour-factors at Gainsford Street, under the firm of Dunkin, Hays, and Wedd (London Gazette, 17-20 October 1812, p. 2105), most likely the time of John Dunkin’s retirement and the resettlement of his businesses among his close relations.  After his wife’s death in 1805, Dunkin sent his three youngest daughters to live with Mary Hays in Islington, where they received their finishing education and remained endeared to Hays the remainder of her life. Dunkin continued to live in Essex for a time, but by 1819 was living at Bath Hampton, near Bath, then in a spacious home in Buckinghamshire before returning to Bath and the beautiful estate at Woodhill Place, where he died in 1827. 

For more on the Dunkin family, go to Hays Genealogy-Page 3