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“Mr CLAY of Hercules Buildings”

Angus Whitehead

Abstract


In his manuscript “Life of Blake” (c. 1832), Frederick Tatham writes that during the 1790s William and Catherine Blake

resided in Hercules Buildings in a pretty clean House of 8 or 10 Rooms & at first kept a servant, but finding (as M.rs Blake declared & as every one else knows) the more service the more Inconvenience, she like all sensible women, who are possessed of industry & health & only moderate means, relinquished this incessant Tax upon domestic comfort, did all the Work herself, kept the House clean, & herself tidy, besides printing all Blakes numerous Engravings, which was a Task alone sufficient for any industrious Woman, but however as there is no state, or scheme, or plan, without its accompanying Evil Blake had reason to regret his having left no one in possession of his House during his & M.rs Blakes absense for one day paying some friendly visit, some Thieves entered it & carried away Plate to the Value of 60 Pounds & clothes to the amount of 40 more.

However, as this note will demonstrate, by the end of January 1791 William and Catherine may have been all too aware that leaving a servant in charge of 13 Hercules Buildings was no sure security against burglary.


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