John Hays

John Hays (1768-1862) was the youngest brother of Mary and Elizabeth Hays. In the 1790s John Hays lived primarily in the family home in Gainsford Street or with John Dunkin in his large home in the Paragon (the first by that name built by Michael Searles, a friend of Dunkin and the Hays family) in Walworth. Between 1800 and 1805 he lived in Essex, managing the Dunkin and Hays farms and mills there. Sometime in 1806 he returned to London, taking up residence at 54 Great Coram Street, Brunswick Square, a thirty-minute walk to Mary Hays's town home in Park Street, Islington. He appears to have remained there until his marriage on 4 May 1812 to Elizabeth Atkinson Breese (c. 1781-12 September 1832) at St. Bride, Fleet Street, London, after which he moved to a palatial home at 3 Paragon, Blackheath, another project built by the architect Michael Searles. Children from Elizabeth Breese's first marriage include Clara , who married Frederick Salmon on 24 June 1830,  Elizabeth  (1803-05), Hannah Bancroft  (b. 1805) and Elizabeth Bancroft  (b. 1810). After their marriage, John and Elizabeth Hays had six children: Elizabeth (b. 6 March 1813), Anna (b. 21 May 1814), Henry (b. 24 March 1817), Susanna (b. 20 September 1818), Matilda Mary (8 September 1820-97), and Albert (22 June 1823). In 1819 the Hays family moved back across the Thames to the same area in which he had previously lived, this time taking a large new townhome at 16 Doughty Street, just across the street from where Charles Dickens would live in the late 1830s. In 1823-24, John Hays moved to a massive estate, Norwood Lodge, about seven miles from central London at the end of what was initially Camberwell Road. After the death of his wife in 1832, he moved to Grosvenor Place, Camberwell, where he remained into the 1840s (Mary Hays would live with him at this location from 1832 to 1840). At the time of Mary Hays's death in 1843, John Hays was still living in Camberwell, but now in a townhome in De Crespigny Terrace. When Elizabeth Hays Lanfear's novel, Fatal Errors, appeared in 1819, John Hays, living then in Doughty Street, was joined among the subscribers by his wife, Elizabeth; Mar Hays (listed as ‘Mrs. M. Hays’, a common title given to older unmarried women), living then in Peckham; and his brother Thomas, living in Bermondsey, near the old family home in Gainsford Street. Surprisingly, Sarah Hays Hills (1765-1836), older sister to Mary and Elizabeth, did not subscribe to the novel. By 1821, John Hays was a partner with John Dunkin, Jr., by the mid-1790s as a cornfactor. Around 1812, he became a partner with George Wedd (who married Mary Hays’s niece, Sarah Dunkin, in 1808), forming hte firm of Hays and Wedd, Corn Factors and Millers, 9 Billiter Square, Shad Thames, Southwark. They were also connected with Hills Mills at Bromley, Middlesex, part of the business of William Hills, another nephew of Mary and Elizabeth who lived in Canonbury Square for many years. John Hays also operated at one time a counting house in Riches Court, Camberwell, and in Mark Lane. Like his two sisters, he was  a published writer. His Observations on Existing Corn Laws appeared in 1824 (2nd ed. in 1828, and a later edition in 1847, titled Revised Observations .... ), with the Preface to the 1824 edition located at Billiter Square, and dated 19 March 1824, but without his name, though his name does appear on the title page.  During her time with her brother in the 1830s, Mary Hays played a major role in shaping the formative years of her niece, Matilda Mary Hays (1820-97),  erving as her primary tutor, much as  Hays had done for her Dunkin nieces c. 1807-08. Like her aunt, Matilda Mary Hays became a writer and a radical voice for social and political reform. Her first novel, Helen Stanley, appeared in 1846, and a second novel, Adrienne Hope, two decades later. She is best known for introducing the novels of George Sand into English, her translations appearing in 6 volumes in 1847, published by Churton. Her last translation of Sand was Le Petite Fadette, which appeared in 1851. She co-founded the English Woman’s Journal in 1858. Matilda Hays was a lesbian and became widely known for her public relationships. Crabb Robinson knew her as a result of his long friendship with Mary Hays and her large extended family. He notes in his diary on 24 May 1844 that Matilda, now 24 years old, had written to him asking advice ‘about the character of a publisher of a novel she has written’ (Helen Stanley). He later adds this telling comment about her on in his Reminiscences for 1819, composed on 31 July 1859: ‘It is a curious fact, that a niece of Mary Hayes (a daughter of her Brother John,) is become an authoress, being as her aunt was, in advance of the age – if advance be the proper term, which it is to be hoped, it is not; for that implies that the age is to follow = She is the translatress of several of George Sand’s novels!!!’