Tag Archives: William Hay

William Hay of Stoneham, MA: A New Look

For being a lifelong New Englander, pinning down some of the details of the life of my 6X great grandfather, William Hay, of Stoneham, Middlesex, Massachusetts, hasn’t been easy.

William was born on 18 September 1744 in Stoneham, the son of Peter Hay and Lydia Lynde. The Hay family was prominent in the area and William’s grandfather, another Peter Hay, left a sizable estate after living to the advanced age of 93 years old. I mention this because it is an important part of William’s story.

William Hay was a shoemaker by trade, so he could work anywhere.

Peter Hay Sr. likely had an important role in raising William for Lydia Lynde, William’s mother, died when William was just three years old and his father died a few days before William’s 20th birthday. Undoubtedly, William lived with his grandfather on the old family homestead.

William Hay married at a young age compared to his peers – 20 years and 4 months – when many Massachusetts men were closer to 25 when they first married. His bride was Phebe Brown, daughter of Abiel Brown and Sarah Green, who also lived in Stoneham. Phebe was born on 29 March 1747 and two months short of her 18th birthday on her wedding day.

This brings up the first question about William and Phebe. Why did they marry in Medford? They didn’t marry in the town where they both lived, they married in Medford, which is 5 miles due south of Stoneham.

Medford Vital Records

It appears that William and Phebe eloped, likely because neither was of legal age (if 21 and 18, respectively) and would have needed consent of a parent or guardian.

William and Phebe were the parents of four children – no, the first baby didn’t come early so that doesn’t explain Medford- all born in Stoneham.


1. Phebe, born 9 December 1765; died 5 November 1789, Medford, Middlesex, Massachusetts; unmarried.
2. Abigail, born November 1768; died 19 September 1854, Glenburn, Penobscot, Maine; married Joses Bucknam, 19 September 1786, Wakefield, Middlesex, Massachusetts
3. Marmaduke, born 20 August 1771; died 11 March 1851, Melrose, Middlesex, Massachusetts; married Martha Barrett, 28 April 1793, Stoneham, Middlesex, Massachusetts
4. Charity, born 31 March 1775; died 4 August 1859, Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts; married Israel Hemenway, 4 December 1794, Stoneham, Middlesex, Massachusetts

Phebe (Brown) Hay died at the young age of 36 in Stoneham on 17 February 1783.

It is unusual to have only four children in that era, particularly when Phebe was a very young woman when she passed away. Note that Charity was born just as the American Revolution was about to begin.

This opens up an entire set of questions. Where was William Hay during the war?

William Hay of Stoneham is credited with military service as he answered the call to Lexington on 19 Apr 1775 in Capt. Samuel Sprague’s company of Minutemen.

After that time? William disappears forever from the Stoneham town records!

Years later, I discovered a William Hay living in Vermont and was able to prove that he was MY William Hay. When his grandfather died in 1790, William received an inheritance. Suffolk County, MA Deed Book 102:506-507 between William Hay and David Hay, dated 30 June 1790, is the acknowledgement by William, of Addison, Shoreham, Vermont that he has received his legacy left to him by Peter Hay.

Since then, new clues have been popping up that are making me ask if William abandoned his family and removed to Vermont during the war.

Here is the evidence:

American Ancestors has a set of index cards relating to the early settlers of Vermont. Here we have Sgt. William Hay living in Rockingham, Windsor, Vermont in 1781. Note the last line – Politics LBTY PTY TEND, which I assume means Liberty Party Tendency, which would certainly fit a man who marched to Lexington on 19 April 1775.

Further research uncovered Sgt. William Hay, Olcott’s Vermont Regiment, Militia, 21 August 1783. William Hay does not appear on a 1784 list of Stoneham residents, although his other family members are on it, including some relatives who didn’t own real estate.

2. The 1790 census of Bow, Rockingham, New Hampshire has an entry for a William Hay, living alone. Could William have stopped in Bow for a while before returning home to Vermont? Or was he just moving frequently? No other William Hay appears in the 1790 census in New England.

3. There is a marriage record for one William Hay and Betsey Currier on 4 December 1791 at Pembroke, Merrimack, New Hampshire. My William would have been only 47 in 1791. Both the bride and groom are listed as residents of Bow in Rockingham County.

4. There is a William Hay in the 1800 census in Pittsford, Rutland, Vermont. The family is enumerated as 01001-001. The History of Pittsford includes a notation during the commentary on the War of 1812 that, on 9 September 1814, men were raised for service in the war. It also noted that “William Hay was discharged on the 11th inst. on account of old age.” No other mention is found of William and Betsey Hay and what appears to be their young son. The son would be about 9 (in the 10-16 age range on the 1800 census) with William being 45+ and Betsey in the 16-26 age range.

This mention of William Hay in Pittsford on 9 September 1814 is the last record I have found. I have not found a single land deed for William Hay and I believe that is because he was a shoemaker.

Here is a map detailing the presumed migration of William Hay, from Stoneham to Bow to Shoreham to Pittsford:

Stoneham to Bow to Shoreham to Pittsford
Google Maps

Readers, what do you think? There are not many William Hays in New England in this time period. Is Sgt. William Hay in the Vermont militia MY William Hay?

At the moment, my thinking is that William might have married too young and when the war began, it presented a perfect opportunity to leave gracefully. His family lived in the homestead with his grandfather, so they were well cared for.

It would also explain the abrupt end to children being born after 1775.

Of William’s four children, Phebe predeceased her grandfather and Nabby married several years before Peter Hay died. Marmaduke and Charity were still at home but well into their teen years and likely remained with family in the house until they married a few years later.

I wish I could find more about William’s presumed second wife, Betsey Currier and the boy in their home, but, for now, they have been lost to time.





Rev. War Soldier William Hay Discharged from War of 1812 Duty Because of Old Age

William Hay is my 6x great grandfather and is a patriot of the American Revolution, having served as a soldier. He was born 18 September 1744 in Stoneham, Middlesex, Massachusetts. However, William didn’t stay put after the war and ended up in Pittsford, Rutland County, Vermont.

I know for sure that this is “my” William because William of Vermont executed a land deed selling property he inherited from his “honored grandfather,” Peter Hay of Stoneham in 1790. At that time, he lived in Shoreham, Addison County, Vermont.

By 1802, he had removed to Pittsford and was living there as late as 1814. I found the following mention of William as Pittsford learned of the attack on Plattsburgh, New York in September 1814. The print is very easy to read, so I won’t transcribe it, but in the second image, William is excused from service because of old age.


VT Historical Magazine 3:943-944

Since William was about 70 years old when he apparently tried to sign up, I take that as a sign that he still didn’t have warm and fuzzy feelings towards the British!

This is the last mention I find of William. He may have died before the 1830 census.



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.