Sarah Applegath Hays

Sarah Applegath Hays, grandmother of Mary Hays, married Capt. Thomas Hills,  (d. 1774, lost at sea) married sometime in the early 1740s, for she joined at Carter Lane in February 1744 (f. 16), which usually provides a clue to the time of marriage. Most likely suggests she was worshiping elsewhere with the Hays family at that time, possibly with the Unicorn Yard congregation, since the Gainsford Street chapel does not form until the early 1750s. Capt. Thomas Hill[s] joined at Carter Lane in September 1732 (f. 10). According to the Church Book, Horsley-down and Carter Lane, 1719-1808, now held at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, a Thomas Hills Sr. and Jr. and a Dinah Hills (most likely the younger Thomas’s sister) are among the signatories of a document dated 5 May 1771. In the list of members present upon the removal of the church from Horsley-down to Carter Lane in 1757, a Thomas Hills is listed (no date of membership), with the added note that he was “Dead Ship lost at sea & all perished (f. 23). A Sarah Hills is listed (f.  25) and described only as “dead,” but without a date. A Dinah Hills left the church in 1774 (f. 26), most likely now living with her brother Thomas, who left for Dean Street that same year. Capt. Hills appears in John Hays’s will in 1768 (proved in 1774, after his death). In his will, John Hays leaves his Gainsford Street house to his wife Elizabeth, and selects his stepfather, Captain Thomas Hills, and ‘my good brother Captain Joseph Judge’ [his wife’s father] as his executors, but also mentions his good friend John Dunkin, father of his future son-in-law. All were Baptists worshiping in the Gainsford Street chapel or at Carter Lane nearby. Both Thomas Hills, Sr. and Jr., marry women named Sarah, but most likely they are relations of the William and Thomas Hills (probably brothers since they are of similar age) who worship in the Baptist chapel in Gainsford Street. William has a sister, also named Sarah, both of whom attended the Northampton academies in the late 1760s operated by John Collett Ryland and Martha Trinder, a member of his Baptist congregation in College Lane. Neither Mary Hays nor her childhood friend, Ann Lepard (a member at Carter Lane), appear on the list of Mrs. Trinder’s students between 1766 and 1771.  However, Ann’s brother, William Lepard III (1768), attended Ryland’s academy at the same time as Dunkin and Hills.  Lepard appears several times in Hays’s correspondence with John Eccles (Brooks, Correspondence 35, 91, 96, 106, 127, 179).

    The fate of William Hills at Gainsford Street is not known, but his relation, Thomas, married Sarah Hays in 1776. William and Hannah Hill[s] from Blackfields attended Ryland’s academy and Mrs Trinder’s academy at the same time as Dunkin and his brother, Christophe. The mother of William and Hannah Hills is first found in the Unicorn-yard Church book, attending that church under William Clarke at that time, not Gainsford Street, where the Dunkins and Hays worshiped, or at Carter Lane, where Capt. Thomas Hills and family worshiped. All of these Hills are most likely related to each other.  She joins but then asks permission to leave to attend the same congregation where her husband attends, which is most likely Gainsford Street chapel under John Langford. According to the Unicorn Yard Church Book, Mrs. Hannah Hill was received into the church on 21 February 1766, based on profession of faith and a prior baptism ‘some years ago by Mr Davis’ (f. 203).  At the meeting for 26 September 1766 she asked the church for permission to leave to join another church where her husband was worshiping.  His church practiced mixed communion, and thus the Unicorn Yard congregation desired to send messengers to Mrs. Hill to see if she would reconsider, for they ‘could not give her a dismission to yt Church they not being of ye same faith & order’.  She still persisted and was removed from Unicorn Yard at a church meeting of 25 October 1766 (f. 205).  She is the same Mrs. Hannah Hill of Blackfields, Southwark, who subscribed to John Ryland jun’s Serious Essays in 1771. John Ryland writes in his diary of his Secret Society for the year 1770:

Took in Mastt [William Hills] of London first impress’d by the Talk of his Sister [Hannah], a very serious young Lady at Mrs Trinders.  40 days ago.  viz. Sep.r 14.---but soon after we had taken him among us we were sadly surprized with an Account of his being most shamefully & sinfully extravagant etc. at the same time when he had made the greatest Profession we spake to him about it twice, the first time took no Impression, the 2d he cried but grew more & more careless & also negligent in meeting, but while we waited in hopes of his Revival he went home at Christmas & not returning we did not formally exclude him, however there is (we fear) little or no ground of hope concerning him.