Hayes (Kent) History

Hayes (Kent) History

THOMPSON, Thomas Sparke 
28 March 1798 – 6 September 1873
Naval career, Churchwarden, School Trustee

Thomas Sparke Thomas began his naval career as young boy in 1811.  He was a Lieutenant when he proposed to Henrietta, daughter of James Norman of Bromley Common.  Her brother George was very concerned about the proposed match writing to his sister that he did not doubt that Thomas was a gentleman but that he should not have asked for her hand in marriage and that she would not be able to live on his income. ‘Think of the situation of your offspring if you have the fortitude to support the pangs of poverty’.  However, the marriage took place in 1830 and Thomas continued in his naval career gradually moving up the chain of command. In 1832 he became a Commander.


His daughter Emma was born in 1835,and her brother Norman a year later but he died in New Zealand in 1881. Another daughter, Henrietta, was born in Hastings in 1840. Shortly after her birth the family moved to the Nest in Hayes where Henry was born in 1842. They employed three resident servants. When Thomas was posted abroad. Henrietta was able to rely on the support of her Norman family, particularly her brother George, who lived nearby.

Career – From Captain to Rear- Admiral

In 1843 Thomas was at Chatham when he wrote to thank his brother-in-law for his gift of wine and saying he would be going to Plymouth ‘my ship looks very beautiful, has stored four months provisions under hatches for 130 men without difficulty’.  He entrusted his wife and children to George’s care.

The next year he was back in Hayes. He was described as churchwarden and a guardian of the poor when arrangements were made to sell the Parish Workhouse.

Soon after he was again at sea and wrote to his brother-in-law, my dear Norman, from his ship HMS Comus in Buenos Ayres discussing how they were likely to remain there until the question of peace or war was settled.  In 1846 he was made a Captain but remained at sea, mainly off the South East coast of America returning to Sheerness in 1850.  

The family had left Hayes on his appointment but returned in 1852 to move into Street House which George Norman had bought in 1841 and this remained his home for the rest of his life.

Parish Activities

He was soon involved in parish activities and very concerned with the plans to build a north aisle to the Parish Church in 1856, for which he donated 11 guineas and his daughter Henrietta 1 guinea. Thomas was also one of the contributors to the East Window installed in Hayes Parish Church.  He was able to persuade George Norman that it would be a fitting memorial to the memory of his eldest son George Herman Norman, who was killed during the Crimean War in June 1855. 

Death of son Henry

Sadly, two years later, his only son Henry, who had followed his father into the navy, died during the attack on Canton in 1857. A memorial panel showing Christ helping the lame beggars was erected in the north sanctuary window.

 In memory of Henry Thompson, Midshipman of HMS Sanspareil who fell mortally wounded in the assault on Canton on the 29th Dec 1857 and died on the following day, aged 15 years and 11 months. This window was erected by some friends in the neighbourhood on Oct. 30 1858

Other parochial matters with which Thomas Thompson became involved were with a committee to examine encroachments on the Common in 1859 and the restoration of the Church Tower in 1862 to which he contributed £20. He remained a churchwarden until 1872. A new organ was installed in 1862 and was played by his daughter Henrietta who was a talented musician. The village school also occupied his attention, particularly in 1860 when an unfavourable Inspector’s Report meant a decision had to be taken about the existing teacher Mr Chaplin.  The school finances were also in a poor condition and an appeal was made to parishioners for contributions. 

Death of wife Henrietta
His wife Henrietta rejoiced with him at his appointment as a Rear- Admiral (Retired) in 1864.  However, she died two years later in July 1866. He commissioned a stained glass window in her memory to be installed in the north aisle of Hayes Church. 

He continued to live in Hayes with his daughters Emma, Henrietta and three domestic servants. In 1871 he continued in his post as Guardian of the Poor and was also made a Vice-Admiral. After his death in 1873 he was buried in the churchyard beside his wife.
Neither of their daughters married and they continued to live at Street House after their father’s death. Emma died and was buried in an adjacent plot in 1881. Henrietta remained in Hayes until 1887 and continued to play the church organ until the death of the Rector, Revd George Varenne Reed. She moved to Keston and became the organist at St Audrey’s Chapel, which had been recently built by Lord Sackville Cecil. She died at Millfield, Keston and was interred in her parent’s grave in Hayes Churchyard in 1919.

Kent Archives U310/206
Bromley Historic Collections P180
St Mary the Virgin, Hayes, Kent  Church Guide