St. George's Place, Camberwell

9 St. George's Place, Camberwell, 1803-1806


Female Biography earned Hays enough money from her publisher, Richard Phillips, to move in the early spring of 1803 (with one servant) to 9 St. George’s Place, a new row of townhomes along Camberwell Road between Southampton Street and Camberwell Green. St. George's Row was situated directly across from the Rotunda Building, which became the site in 1807 of the Surrey Literary Institution, a place that would have been of great interest to Mary Hays had she stayed in St. George's Place after 1806. Hays was not situated far from open spaces to her southwest from which she could indulge in the long walks she would enjoy for many years at a series of residences in Islington, Wandsworth, Oundle, Bristol, Peckham, and Greenwich. Her move to Camberwell was also motivated by family concerns. A three-quarter-hour’s walk to the north through Southwark and Bermondsey brought Hays to her original family home in Gainsford Street, where her mother, Elizabeth Judge Hays (c. 1730-1812), and Mary’s younger sister, Elizabeth (c. 1765-1825), had primarily resided. Hays appears as “Mrs. Hays” in Holden’s London Directory for 1805, Private Residences (n.p.). She appears as “Mary Hays” in the Poor Rate Books, St. Giles Parish, Camberwell, 1802-04, and 1807 (GC/3/1/5-6, Southwark Local History Library, London, n.p.), the first time in her life she would appear as an independent woman and rate payer in a Poor Rate Book. During her time in Camberwell two other single women were her neighbors along the one-block row of townhomes at St. George’s Place. Hays disappears from the Rate Books by 1807, having moved to Islington.