Dunkin, Hays, Wedd, Hills, and Wheeler: Corn Factors 

An examination of the London Directories reveals the extent of John Dunkin’s influence in establishing many of his relations in business, showing once again the importance of the Dissenting tradition of keeping oneself and one’s family within “the household of faith”; in this case, it appears the “household” is not only the culture of Dissent but also his extended family and his particular line of work (cornfactoring). As the wealth of the family grew, Mary Hays at various times participated in their success and, at times, in their failures, assisting in the care of many of her nephews and nieces and their children from the 1790s to the early 1840s. 

In Lowndes's London Directory for 1786 (p. 66), we find Christopher Dunkin,  corn-lighterman, Gainsford Street; Henry Dunkin, Jr., corn factor, Horsleydown Lane; John Dunkin, Jr., flour factor, Thomas Street, Southwark; and John Dunkin, Sr., meal man, Shad Thames (neither Thomas Hills nor Mrs. Hays, Mary Hays's mother, appear in this Directory). In the Universal British Directory (1791), Elizabeth Hays is listed as a wine merchant in Gainsford Street, Horsleydown. Many Dunkin-related businesses are listed along the wharves in Southwark: Dunkin and Walton, sacking warehouse, in Horsleydown Lane; Dunkin and Stibbs, mealmen, Shad Thames; John Dunkin, Jr., flour-factor, Thomas St., Southwark; and Christopher Dunkin, lighterman, Horsleydown. Both John Dunkin and Thomas Hills were members of the London Livery through the Bakers Company, but they were not actual bakers, just flour and corn factors working in businesses clearly related to food services and preparation.  In Boyle's 1794 London Directory, we find a Dunkin and Goulding, cornfactors, at 11 Horsleydown, Southwark (30). In 1797, John Dunkin, Sr., is 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). 

In Holden’s 1808 London Directory, both John Dunkins (father and son) were listed as corn and flour factors at 90 Gainsford Street, Shad Thames, with the elder Dunkin having taken in his son, Summerhays Dunkin, as an apprentice in 1795, and who most likely was working with him in 1808.  John Dunkin, Jr., and Co., corn factors, were also in Gainsford Street, Shad Thames. There was also a John Dunkin, corn dealer, at 8 Charlotte Row, Bermondsey, in connection with Thomas Dunkin, son of John Dunkin, Jr., and returned from military service, working with coal, next door at 10 Charlotte Row; most likely the former Dunkin is John Hays Dunkin, John Dunkin, Jr.'s, eldest son. By 1811, the Post Office Directory lists a new business, Dunkin, Hays, and Wedd, as flour-factors at 89 Shad Thames, which is probably the same location as the 1808 business, with ownership having transferred to John Dunkin after the death of his father in 1809. Dunkin, always concerned with the Hays family as well as his own children, appears to have expanded the business to include as partners his brother-in-law, John Hays (soon to be married the next year), and his soon to be son-in-law, George Wedd, who would marry Sarah Dunkin the next year. Dunkin was also assisting his eldest son, John Hays Dunkin (1775-1858), and his son-in-law, Henry Francis (he married Dunkin’s daughter Elizabeth in 1803; his sister, Sarah, married John Hays Dunkin in 1799), and the second business listed in Gainsford Street in 1808 under his name was now Dunkin & Francis, corn dealers, at 90 Shad Thames. On 10 October 1812, the firm of John Dunkin, John Hays, John Hays Dunkin, and George Wedd, was dissolved. They had also managed a business as millers at Beeleigh, near Maldon, Essex, under the name John Dunkin and Co., besides being flour-factors at Gainsford Street, under the firm of Dunkin, Hays, and Wedd (see London Gazette, 17-20 October 1812, p. 2105).  All of this coincides with Wedd’s marriage to Dunkin’s daughter, Sarah, in 1812, and John Hays’s marriage that same year, as well as John Dunkin’s retirement from business.

John Dunkin’s brother, Christopher, was listed as cornfactor in Potter’s Fields, Horsleydown, Southwark. Emma Dunkin, another daughter of John Dunkin, married William Hills, son of Sarah Hays Hills, in 1810, and in the 1811 Directory he was listed as partner with his brother-in-law, William Wheeler (he married William’s sister, Sarah Hills, in 1808) at 8 Haydon Square, the Minories, the section of London in which Hills’s parents had moved in the late 1770s His marriage was in Islington, so it is possible the John Wheeler living in Park Street was his father. After William Hills moved to Canonbury Lane, Islington, after his marriage in 1810, Mrs. Hills moved into a townhome nearby in Felix Terrace. Dunkin’s eldest daughter, Joanna, had married Nathaniel Palmer in 1798 and he too was well established as a cornfactor, living in Aldermanbury. Thomas Hays appears on his own in the 1811 Post Office Directory as a Corn and Flour Factor at Mill Street, Dockhead, operating directly across the Thames wharves at the end of Gainsford Street and Shad Thames in Dockhead (he was living at Wandsworth Common, near Clapham, at that time, with Mary Hays living with him at that time).  Ambrose Lanfear, stepson of Elizabeth Hays Lanfear, took his father’s place in the firm of Lanfear and Holland, haberdashers, at 101 Fleet Street. Mrs. Hays was still living at 9 St. George’s Place, Camberwell, though she would die in 1812. 

In the 1814-1816 Post Office Directories, John Dunkin, having lived nearly ten years at Woodham Mortimer, Essex, was no longer listed with a business, but his son’s business, Dunkin & Francis, continued from 90 Shad Thames. Continuing also were Hills & Wheeler at Haydon Square, Hays & Wedd at 89 Shad Thames, next door to Dunkin & Francis, and Thomas Hays at Mill Street, Dockhead.  George Wedd and family are living at this time in Gainsford Street, and Thomas Hays and family in a house on Mill Street (see subscription list to Lanfear’s Fatal Errorsin 1819), so both families living near their places of business. Ambrose Lanfear does not appear at this time. By 1815, Dunkin’s youngest daughter, Marianna, had probably married William Bennett, though the exact date of their marriage has not been found yet. In the 1815 Directory, no less than five William Bennetts appear, but it is unclear which was her husband. The most likely prospects are the William Bennett, 1 Saville Row, Walworth, jeweller and toy dealer (operating in 1825); William Bennett, 3 Dover Place opposite Surrey Square, Kent Road, paper stainer (operating in 1817); and William Bennett and Co., woolen drapers, 171 High Street, Borough, Southwark (1828-29 Pigot’s London Directory). 

By 1818, changes occur in the Post Office Directory. John Hays Dunkin was now partnering with his relation, a Mr. Summerhays. John Dunkin’s father’s second marriage was to Mary Summerhays, and most likely this is one of her children or grandchildren (most likely) from her first marriage. Henry Francis would form his own business at this time. Continuing again were Hills & Wheeler at Haydon Square, Hays & Wedd at 89 Shad Thames, and Thomas Hays at Mill Street, Dockhead. Ambrose Lanfear reappears this year, now working on his own as a merchant at 8 Warnford Court, Throgmorton Street. In Holden’s London Directory for 1817-1819, Thomas Hays is partnering with a Mr. Clulow as wharfingers and lightermen, still in Mill Street, Dockhead, Bermondsey; Hays and Wedd still located at 89 Shad Thames. 

In Robinson’s London Directory for 1820, Henry Hays Dunkin is now listed on his own (without Summerhays) at 25 Shad Thames. Hays and Wedd still at 89 Shad Thames, but Thomas Hays is now listed at Shad Thames as well, not Mill Street. Hills and Wheeler are still at Haydon Square, but now what is most likely Wheeler’s brother (possibly the John Wheeler living a few door down from Mrs. Hills in Felix Terrace) has joined with one of the Hayses (which one is not clear) and formed Hays and Wheeler, lightermen and wharfingers, at St. Saviour’s Dock, Dockhead (just across the narrow waterway separating Gainsford Street from Dockhead). Thomas Hills (b. 1786), younger brother of William Hills, had now joined the group and established himself as a flour factor at 34 Mark Lane, Fenchurch Street. In Pigot’s 1823 London Directory, only one H. Francis appears, and he is a grocer operating from 32 Greek Street, in the Soho. In the 1805 Holden’s London Directory, Henry Francis was listed as a Gentleman living in Aldermanbury, the same place his relation, Nathaniel Palmer, had moved to in 1803. 

Records of the Sun Fire Insurance Company reveal that on 29 June 1820,  Messrs [Thomas] Hays and [George] Wedd were listed as corn factors millers and merchants in Shad Thames, with other properties listed as Benson's warehouse, Gainsford Street, Horselydown, late Davis's cooperage. On 8 November 1820 record lists an affiliate property as Hills Mills, Bromley, Middlesex. On 14 February 1821 they appear as Messrs Hays and Wedd, corn and flour factors and millers at 8 Billiter Square with other property listed as Hills Steam Mill, Bromley Middlesex, as well as Leader and Company, Water Corn Mill, Isleworth Middlesex.

In the Post Office Directory for 1823, Henry Hays Dunkin had now joined with his brother-in-law, John Lee (he married John Dunkin’s daughter, Anne, in 1805 and appears in one of Dunkin’s letters to Mary Hays in 1807), still at 90 Shad Thames. Hays and Wedd are still at 89 Shad Thames but also at Lime Street Square. Hays and Wheeler still at Mill Street, Dockhead, and Hills and Wheeler at Haydon Square, with Thomas Hills still at Mark Lane, near Samuel Palmer, also a corn and flour factor in Mark Lane. 

In the 1824, 1825 and 1826 London Post OfficeDirectories,Hays and Wedd are at 89 Shad Thames and now also at 8 Billiter Square; Hays and Wheeler are at Meriton’s wharf, Mill Street, Dockhead, with Hills and Wheeler at Haydon Square. In Pigot’s 1826-1827 London and Provincial New Commercial Directory, Hays and Wedd are still 89 Shad Thames and now also at 8 Billiter Square; Hays and Wheeler are at Meriton’s wharf, Mill Street, Dockhead; Hills and Wheeler are still at 8 Haydon Square, and Thomas Hills at 34 Mark Lane, all listed as Corn Merchants. In the 1827 Post Office Directory, Hays and Wedd has changed to Hays and Douglass, with the location remaining the same at 89 Shad Thames and 8 Billiter Square; Hays and Wheeler are at Meriton’s wharf, Mill Street, Dockhead; Hills and Wheeler are still at 8 Haydon Square. In Pigot’s 1828-1829 London and Provincial New Commercial Directory, Hays and Wedd are still 89 Shad Thames and now also at 8 Billiter Square; Hills and Wheeler are still at 8 Haydon Square, and Thomas Hills at 34 Mark Lane, all listed as Corn Merchants, but no Hays and Wheeler. In Pigot’s Metropolitan Alphabetical Directory for 1828-29, Hays and Wheeler are at Scott’s Wharf, Dockhead; Hays and Douglas (not Wedd) are listed at 8 Billiter Square, corn and flour factors.

In the 1832 Post Office Directory, Hays and Wheeler still at Mill Street; now William Hills & Co, cornfactors, 8 Heydon Square (sic). In the 1838 Post Office Directory, we now see Hays, Irvine, and Anderson, Cornfactors, 2 Riches Court, Lime Street; also John Hays, cornfactor, 2 Riches Court, Lime Street, and John Hays, Cornfactor, 89 Shad Thames, Southwark. Thomas Hays is now listed as Wharfinger without a partner, still in Mill Street, Dockhead. For the first time, Henry Francis and his son, Henry D[unkin]. Francis, Attornies, at 4 Monument Yard, appear. William Hills & Co. still at Haydon Square; Thomas Hills, corndealer, now located in 8 Red Lion Street, Holborn. George Wedd is now listed by himself as Corn and flour factor at 7 London Street, Fenchurch Street. In the 1840 Post Office Directory, Thomas Hays and son are listed as wharfingers at Meriton’s Wharf, Mill Street, Dockhead. John Hays is still listed as cornfactor at 89 Shad Thames. In the 1841 Post Office Directory, George Wedd is listed at 7 London Street, Mark Lane. John Hays is no longer listed, probably retired at this point.