Where Did Rev. War Soldier William Hay of Stoneham, MA Go?

William Hay served as a soldier in Capt. Sprague’s company during the American Revolution. He was born 18 September 1744 in Stoneham, Middlesex, MA to Peter Hay and Lydia Lynde. He married Phebe Brown on 25 January 1765 in nearby Medford, MA. They were the parents of four known children:

1. Phebe, born 9 December 1765, Stoneham and who died on 5 November 1789 in Medford, MA; unmarried.
2. Abigail, born November 1768, Stoneham and who died on 19 September 1854 in Glenburn, Penobscot, ME. She married Joses Bucknam on 19 September 1786 in Wakefield, MA. Joses and Nabby removed to Mason, Hillsboro, NH, where he died in 1835. Nabby was living with her daughter’s family in Maine when she died in 1854.
3. Marmaduke, born 20 August 1771, Stoneham and who died on 11 March 1851 in Melrose, MA. He married Martha Barrett on 28 April 1793 in Stoneham, but they had no known children.
4. Charity, born 31 March 1775, Stoneham and who died on 4 August 1859 in Malden, MA. She married Israel Hemmenway on 4 December 1794 in Stoneham. They had at least three known children.

Phebe Brown Hay, William’s wife died in Stoneham on 17 February 1783, near the close of the war.

However, there is no burial record for William in Stoneham or any other nearby towns, in spite of the fact that he belonged to a prominent family.

There are clues suggesting he may have moved out of Stoneham by 1786. Young ladies typically married in the town where they lived. Abigail Hay married Joses Bucknam, who resided in Reading, in the town of Wakefield, MA in 1786. She was also young when she married – two months shy of her 18th birthday – so her father would have had to give consent and she was likely living at home at the time of her marriage. Perhaps William moved to Wakefield after wife Phebe’s death.

William was definitely still living at this time as proven by two documents dated 1790. The first was the 1768 will of his grandfather, Peter Hay, probated in April 1790. William, like Peter’s other grandchildren, were each given a legacy of £6.

To my beloved Grandson, William Hay

Peter’s only surviving son, David Hay (William’s uncle) was the executor. The will stipulated that William should receive his legacy within six months. Found in the deeds of Middlesex County, MA, recorded on 30 June 1790 is a document from William Hay of Shoreham, Addison County, Vermont to David Hay for consideration of £6 received by William, left to him by his honored grandfather, Peter Hay.

This is the last document found for William Hay with a proven tie to my soldier, William Hay of Stoneham. However, there are further records that may well pertain to him.

The 1790 census show no William Hay living anywhere in Vermont, but that same census of Bow, Rockingham County, New Hampshire shows one William Hay, alone in the household.

Bow, New Hampshire is right along a major highway (and likely a main travel road even back then) that heads from Stoneham up to Shoreham.

Next found is a marriage record for William Hay, of Bow, to Betsy Currier, of Bow, on 4 December 1791. At first, I thought this was my William Hay, but I no longer believe that. This William and Betsy moved to Charlestown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts by 1800, where they appear in the census. By following the family forward, I discovered that while this William died on 15 May 1815, widow Betsy survived until 1852, also dying in Charlestown. This William Hay was apparently born in Charlestown, MA and Betsy was born in Concord, New Hampshire. Lastly, this William Hay was in the 26-44 age range in 1800, while my William was 56 years old in 1800.

My current theory is that my William Hay was missed in the 1790 census. Remember, he was in Cambridge with his uncle David recording the receipt of his legacy on 30 June 1790. The census taker could easily have passed by his home in Vermont when he wasn’t there.

The 1800 census of Pittsford, Rutland County, Vermont, which is about 25 miles southeast of Shoreham shows a William Hay.

This William Hay is over 45 and is living in Vermont, only about 25 miles from where William stated as his residence in the 1790 deed. There is also a female in the household over 45 and a male 10-16 years old.

I haven’t been able to discover anything about the adult female and young male in the household.

Two land deeds have been located in Rutland County for William Hay. The first is dated 6 September 1798 whereby William Baxter sells 110 acres of land to William Hay, both of Rutland County.

Perhaps William Hay didn’t fulfill payment or something because on 12 March 1800, he quit claimed the exact same piece of land back to William Baxter for the grand sum of $1.00. However, the deed wasn’t recorded until 13 March 1802, when it states that William Hay appeared before the clerk.

No William Hay has been found in the 1810 Vermont census and it would be reasonable to believe that he might have died. However, one more record has been found in the Vermont Historical Magazine, volume 3, pp. 943-944 regarding the War of 1812:



On 9 September 1814, a company of men assembled in Pittsford with the intent of marching to Plattsburgh, New York to help defend it. On 11 September 1814, one William Hay was released because of old age. My William would have been only one week away from his 70th birthday.

No further land or probate records have been found for William Hay in Vermont. There is no hint of where he was living at the time of the 1810 census, but if he was in Pittsford, it must have been with someone else not named Hay as head of household. No death or burial records have been found either, but I believe this is my William Hay.

I don’t know whether there is any type of record of his death to be found, but I will take another look at the Rutland County, Vermont records next month at the Family History Library.

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