Wandsworth Common

Wandsworth Common, with her brother Thomas, 1809-13


Thomas Hays's residence in Wandsworth Common is first mentioned by Henry Crabb Robinson in his pocket diary in April 1809; the address also appears often in the letters of Eliza Fenwick to Hays. Hays moved in with her brother's family after her stay at Islington, just after the suicide of her brother-in-law, Ambrose Lanfear. Fenwick's son, Orlando (1798-1816), attended a boarding school nearby and often stayed in the home of Thomas Hays, with Mary Hays becoming his surrogate mother and teacher at that time. Hays was involved as well in the education of Thomas's young children. Mary Hays was still living with Thomas in September 1812, just after her mother’s death that summer. Her mother’s will was proved in January 1813, and from that money Hays would eventually leave London for a few years. The homes pictured here surround Wandsworth Common, which still exists to this day. At the time Hays lived there, only a few homes bordered the common, and whether they are the ones pictured here is uncertain, but they give a sense of the wealth and success of Thomas Hays at that time. Crabb Robinson records in is diary a visit to Hays at Wandsworth and notes that they walked with his children in Spencer Park (see below), which is adjacent to the Common and the row of houses that existed on the Common at that time.