Taunton Courier 06 Jul 1921 100 Somerset Worthies James HAYES Founder of Hillcommon

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Taunton Courier. Bristol and Exeter Journal, and Western Advertiser Wednesday 06 Jul 1921
Page 8 Column 4


JAMES HAYES, FOUNDER OF HILLCOMMON. - James HAYES, of Oake and Hillcommon in Heathfield, was the son of William HAYES, of Oake, by Grace DYER, his wife, of Hillfarrance. He was born at Oake, and married at Hillfarrance 9th May, 1808, Martha, the eldest child and daughter of George DUDDERIDGE, of Norton Fitzwarren, Allarford in Hillfarrance, and Hillcommon in Heathfield, by Fanny JENNINGS, his wife, of Hillfarrance. In the course of his life he founded the hamlet of Hillcommon, at first a large tract of common land, which no one claimed or could appropriate except a house could be erected upon the portion required in one night and slept in there and then. For many years this was thought impossible till James HAYES solved the difficulty by building a house of turf in one night, and likewise sleeping in it. Having fulfilled the conditions, he claimed the land, no one disputing his right, and commenced building a substantial residence, making it his life's abode. Others in the neighbourhood, seeing this, followed James HAYES' example, and in a short time this common land was nearly built over. One piece, however, was left a a thankoffering to God, the Bible Christians meanwhile holding preaching services at the recently-erected house of Mr. CATTLE till the people of the hamlet had collected enough subscriptions for a permanent place of worship. A chapel was at length erected, the building of which was under the superintendence of the pious Aaron HAYES, the son. It has always been connected with the Bible Christians, and was built, as the stone outside it states, in 1842. James HAYES died at Hillcommon (?), aged 84, in 1875. The writer has been unable to trace his burial place. Could any reader supply it? His wife Martha died at Hillcommon, and was buried at Hillfarrance 3rd November, 1861, aged 77 years. James HAYES witnessed, with his father-in-law, George DUDDERIDGE, the hanging tragedy at Stone Gallows in 1801.


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