Hayes (Kent) History

Hayes (Kent) History

FINDLAY, Alexander
7 December 1788 – 7 January 1870
Geographer and Engraver of maps and charts
Founder Member Royal Geographical Society
Built The White House, Hayes about 1830

Alexander was born in Bermondsey, the eldest child of Archibald and Mary Findlay. From an early age he was involved in the production of maps and charts and did much of his work for the map publisher Richard Holmes Laurie, whose business he helped to expand 

He married Sarah in 1810 and had four children, Alexander, Archibald, Sarah and William. His office was in London but he moved with his family to the countryside, initially to Keston. His son Archibald died in 1828 and was buried in Keston Parish Churchyard. Shortly afterwards the family moved from Keston to a house, later known as the White House, on Hayes Common. He also leased some land at the back of the house from George Norman.

Map work
In 1829 he engraved R H Laurie’s survey of the Environs of London and a year later he became one of the founding members of the Royal Geographical Society. He remained a fellow of the society until his death in 1870.
His works included a Chart of the Estuary of the Thames, maps of North America and Europe and a chart of the Mediterranean Sea. He continued to be involved in producing maps until 1865. His map of Hayes and its environs was included in Charles Kadwell’s History of Hayes, 1833.

Churchwarden and Overseer of the Poor
He played an active role in the Hayes Vestry between 1835  and 1855. In 1840, as one of the two Overseers of the Poor with Joseph Langridge, he presented the accounts which the Vestry approved. In 1841 the other overseer was John Rose Brandon and from 1842 to 1844 Timothy Tilden. This included the challenging period when the local workhouse was replaced by the Union Workhouse set up in Farnborough after the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 and there were difficult decisions to be made about the sale of the Parish Workhouse.

He attended the Vestry as a Churchwarden from 1845 to 1855 and chaired some of the meetings in 1848,49 and 52. He was also present in 1859 and 1860 when the Vestry considered encroachments on the Common, the possible disposal of Parish properties which included his home and the rights of Commoners.

Death
His wife Sarah died in 1865 from congestion of the lungs at the age of 76. She was buried in Hayes Churchyard. Alexander seems to have been deeply affected by his loss. In 1870 he died from ‘Decay of Nature’ in the presence of his clergyman son William who assisted at his burial in the Churchyard on 13 January 1870.

References:
P Griffiths The Findlays of Leith & London and their Kettle descendants www.genealogycrank.co.uk with special thanks for the photograph of Alexander Findlay
C Kadwell The History of Hayes in the County of Kent Bromley Historic Collections P180/28/12