Thomas Hays (II)

Thomas Hays (c. 1772-1856) married Elizabeth Dunkin (c. 1775-1832), his cousin, late in 1796. Like his brother, John, and his brother-in-law, John Dunkin, Thomas Hays becomes a cornfactor and wharfinger along Shad Thames, Gainsford Street. For many years he lives in or near the original Hays home in Gainsford Street (certainly during the late 1790s), but by 1801 he moves to Mill Street, Dockhead, and then in 1806 to a large home (his family has grown considerably in number by then) on Wandsworth Common, near Clapham, where Mary Hays will live with his family between 1809 and 1813, when she departs for Oundle, Northamptonshire; she will also live with him at various times after she returns from Northamptonshire and later from Bristol. In 1812 he became a business partner with his younger relation, George Wedd, who also lived for many years along Gainsford Street and Mill Street. Thomas Hays and his wife Elizabeth appear several times in the diary of Mary Summerhays Dunkin, mother of Thomas's wife and step-mother to John Dunkin, Jr. By the date of their marriage in 1796, neither Thomas nor Elizabeth appear to be following in the religious footsteps of the older members of the Hays and Dunkin families, or at least Mrs. Dunkin seems to have some concerns about them, writing in her diary on 30 November 1796 that she prays that "neither of them may make this world their rest, for this life at best is short and uncertain" (John Townsend, The Christian's Life and Hope, a Funeral Sermon for Mrs. Mary Dunkin [London: Williams and Smith 1806], 66). On her deathbed in 1806, she asks to see Thomas Hays, admonishing him to "see Jesus! Search the Scriptures, Thomas; they are full of Jesus Christ; and invites you to come to him in every page. Come out from the world, my child; the world will do you no good when you come to die. What should I do now without Jesus? it is he makes my dying bed so easy. I beseech you, Thomas, keep holy the Sabbath-day; do not break if for any one; do pray keep the sabbath. Love my child, be kind to my child [her daughter, Elizabeth, his wife], and may God give you both his grace, that we may meet around his throne in glory! Amen" (79).   She talks to him again with another death-bed request, "That he would be sure not to forget the fatherless children Susan and Joseph [possibly two grandchildren whose father had died, but this is not clear]; remember they are orphans in this miserable world; pray, T-----, do not forget the poor fatherless children; do all in your power to assist them; do not let them want your help" (81). Later she spoke to Elizabeth Hays, her daughter, imploring her to "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shat be saved. Keep holy the Sabbath-day; oh, do not break the Sabbath! Come out from the world, and the Lord will receive you; the world can to nothing for you when you come to die" (82). These comments suggest that Thomas and his wife might have become Unitarians and were not zealous in attending church on Sunday, or, what seems more likely given that their children appear to have been christened, the Hayses had conformed to the Anglican church but were not attending regularly anywhere. Whatever the case, to the devoutly orthodox Mary Dunkin, such death-bed were to be taken seriously, both as a indication of her dying spiritual state and her perception of the spiritual state of others.

    Like his brother John, Thomas's finances experienced considerable turbulence after 1815, with several highs and lows (he becomes insolvent on more than one occasion), though overall the family live very well by most standards. By 1817, Thomas Hays has experienced some severe financial setbacks and decided it is more feasible to return to a house closer to his business, which was located in Mill Street, Dockhead, Bermondsey, along the wharves on the opposite side of the narrow inlet separating Gainsford Street in Blackfields, Southwark, from Mill Street. He will remain there into the 1840s.

    During 1820 Robinson begins to take on an important role as financial advisor for Mary Hays, and early on he is called upon to arbitrate on her behalf between her brothers Thomas and John concerning the investment of her mother's estate, of which some £800 went to Mary.  On 3 June 1820 Crabb Robinson calls on her and she is in "low spirits" over issues with her brothers about her monies. Robinson shields her somewhat by his shorthand, but nevertheless exposes the heart of the controversy: "<She is treated> unkindly and even ungenerously <by her brother John, who> throws <on her the trouble> of arranging her affairs <with her brother Thomas, who has much of her property. It appears that all Miss> H’s <property consists of a> Jahrgeld <for life and forty pounds from Mr> Dunkin <a sum for her brother John’s business, nine hundred pounds in her brother Thomas’s> hands <part of which she is now under the necessity of turning into an> annuity <for which John is also> surety." He meets her later that day at her brother Thomas’s house in Mill Street, Bermondsey, and draws up an agreement between her and her brother about her £900, placing many details in shorthand: "<She lends him> £900 – £500 <on interest For the> £400 <he is to pay her an annuity of> 40 <pounds for her life. He gives her a bond, and also, as collateral security, puts into her hands the lease which has many years to run; and assigns over to her his policy of> assurance <on his life, which before the lease is at> an end <will be worth much more than the money.>"  On the 29th they all meet (by accident) at George Wedds and Robinson discloses more details about Hays’s financial arrangement with her brother Thomas: "It was settled that no bond should be given for the money lent to Mr H. by Mrs H:  or for the annuity but that his policy of insurance should be actually insured to her and that she should take the lease of property as a security which if necessary is to be assigned to her – and I was to have an agreement copied on stamp, which in fact I did the next morning and it was taken by Davis the same day."  [For more on Thomas Hays's interactions with Mary Hays, see A Mary Hays Chronology.]

    Elizabeth Dunkin Hays died in 1832, and by the 1841 census, Thomas Hays was still living in Mill Street, Bermondsey, with one daughter, Mary, and two female servants. Two years later, along with his brother John, George Wedd, and Crabb Robinson, Thomas Hays will serve as one of the attendants for Mary Hays at her funeral in February 1843. Thomas Hays died in 1856. An obituary notice of his death appeared in the Gentleman’s Magazine, New Series 45 (April, 1856), 436. “At Seaton, Kent, the residence of his son-in-law, R. C. Kingsword, aged 84, Thomas Hays, esq. late of Bermondsey.”  Among his numerous children are Christopher Dunkin Hays, born 19 April 1800, Southwark; Elizabeth Clulow Hays, born 7 October 1801, christened 11 November 1801, St. Mary Magdelene, Bermondsey; Mary Dunkin Hays, born 25 March 1803, christened 23 April, St. Mary Magdelene, Bermondsey; Thomas Hays, born 10 December 1804, christened 9 January 1805, St. Mary Magdelene, Bermondsey; Marianna Hays, born 14 July 1807, christened 31 May 1808, St. Mary Magdelene, Bermondsey; and Joseph Judge Hays, born 26 May 1806, christened 31 May 1808, St. Mary Magdelene, Bermondsey.