Hayes Records in Edgecombe & Halifax Counties 1734-1825

  • Edgecombe County was formed from Bertie in 1741 (Actually 1732 but it didn’t become effective until 1741.)
  • Granville County was carved out of Edgecombe in 1746.
  • Edgecombe County was split into two counties — Edgecombe and Halifax — on 1 January 1759 with Halifax County inheriting the courthouse and therefore the Edgecombe records up to that point.
  • Nash was carved out of Edgecombe in 1777.

1 Dec 1727
Patent:  John Haye 440 acres on the south side of Morattock River in Bertie precinct, joining Elk Marsh Wit: R Everard.   Patent:  John Haye 250 acres on the South side of Morattock River in Bertie precinct, joining the Elk Marsh Swamp Wit: R Everard.  [Hofmann, Margaret M. Province of North Carolina, 1663–1729, Abstracts of Land Patents (M.M. Hofmann, 1983), page 230.]

The “Morattock” River was later known as the Roanoke River.  Whether this was the John “Hay” of Southampton County or a John “Hays” is not completely clear.  Elk Marsh (now called simply Marsh Swamp) is located in what is now Halifax County.  This is a long way from previous sightings of men named John Hay(s)

10 May 1734
Deed: Jos. Jno. Alston to Thomas Hays, both of Edgecombe precinct, for £10 Virginia, 100 acres on the southerly side of Roanoke River and on the west side of Elk Swamp beginning at a (gum?) the west side of Elk Swamp running thence S5W 160p to a pine on the west side of a pond s50E 677p(?) to a red oak thence northerly to Elk Swamp thence up the sd. swamp to the first station, being part of a greater tract of 1,860 acres granted to sd. Alston 2 January 1729.  Signed: Jos. Jno. Alston. Witness: John Gray, Henry Guston.  Proved May Ct 1734. [Halifax County Deed Book 1, page 82.]

This land is in modern Halifax County.  Elk Marsh is shown on the Collet map of 1770 rising west of Halifax town and running first southeast then south to empty into Beech Swamp roughly at the town of Enfield.  It is now called simply Marsh Swamp.  

Edgecombe County formed from Bertie County.  Edgecombe records were kept at the courthouse that was inside Halifax County when it was carved out of Edgecombe in 1759, so Edgecombe records prior to 1759 are found in the Halifax courthouse.

7 April 1744
Deed: William Whitehead to William Hay, both of Edgecombe County, for £10 Virginia, 200 acres on the north side of Swift Creek near or over against the mouth of Rocky Run above William Busky’s plantation… being a patent to Col. William Whitehead 21 March 1742.  Signed William Whitehead.  Witness: N. (unreadable), John Dawson. Proved May Ct. 1744. [Halifax County Deed Book 5, page 232.]

This is probably in modern Edgecombe County — Swift Creek rises in Nash County and flows a long distance east and southeast across the county line and empties into the Tar River just northwest of Tarrboro. It isn’t clear that William Hay actually lived here because he sold it a bit more than two years later.

19 Aug 1746
Deed: William Hay of Edgecombe County to Benjamin Matthews, for for £20 Virginia, 200 acres on the north side of Swift Creek near or over against the mouth of Rocky Run above William Busky’s plantation… being a patent to Col. William Whitehead 21 March 1742.  Signed: William Hay.  Witness: William Dortch, Humphrey Pryor.  Prived August Ct. 1742. [Halifax County Deed Book 3, page 7.]

20 Dec 1748
Granville Grant: John Moreland, 300 acres in Edgecombe County on the W. side of Little Creek… hickory on John Spann’s line then along his line S20W 78p  to a poplar his corner then along his other line…  to a white oak on the creek then the meanders of the creek to the first station. Surveyed 5 March 1747. Chain Carriers: John Hays, Gilbert Hays. James Alston, surveyor. [Patent Book 11, page 234.]

This may be in northwest Edgecombe County.  A few deeds refer to Little Creek as being nearby Moccasin Creek, which runs roughly east-southeast through northwestrn Edgecombe into Swift Creek northeast of Tarrboro.

4 Feb 1749
Deed: Capt. John Spann & Mary his wife of Northampton County to Gilbert Hays of Edgecombe County, for £55, 250 acres beginning at a corner hickory in a branch of Great Creek on the south side in Rives (?) line thence east to a corner hickory in William Collier’s line thence South 101p to a corner red oak, hickory and persimmon thence south 140p to a corner pine… Signed: John Spann, Mary (x) Spann.  Witness: William Green, Will (x) Collier, H. Zollicoffer.  Proved May Ct. 1749 [Halifax County Deed Book 3, page 347.]

28 Oct 1751
Warrant: Gilbert Hays warrant to James Conner to survey 250 acres in Edgecombe County, joining Giles Hidgepeth, Mr. Williams, and Capt Spann, entered at Edgecombe 23 April 1750.  Back of document reads: “200 acres In the Name of Matthew Cartwright. Grant 3 July 1760. [Thanks to Bob Martin’s internet posting referencing Miscellaneous Land Office Papers, NC State Archives.]

The survey was used for a grant issued 3 July 1760 to Matthew Cartwright for 200 acres in Halifax County “beginning at Giles Hedgepeth’s corner tree running south 160p to a white oak on John Alston’s line then along his line east 194p to Spann’s line thence north along Spann’s line 170p to the center of three red oaks Spann’s corner then west 180p to two white oaks then S20E 22p to the first station.” [NC Grant Book 14, page 127.]

21 May 1755
Deed: Gilbert Hays & Jean his wife  to John Good, all of Edgecombe County, for £10 Virginia, 100 acres beginning on the east side of Collier’s Branch on the line thence to a corner red oak thence south along Span’s line… Signed: Gilbert Hays, Jean (x) Hays.  Witness: William (x) Collier, John Spain [Spann], John Wyatt.  Proved November Ct. 1755 [Halifax County Deed Book 2, page 353.]

Muster Roll of Edgecombe County Militia, Captain Nathaniel Bradford’s Company: …Will:m Collier…Gilbert Hays, John Wood… [Murtie J. Clark, Colonial Soldiers of the South 1732-1774, page 679.]

There is no date on the paper, but we know it was 1756 or earlier, because Nathaniel Bradford made his will in Edgecombe on 2 October 1756 and it was proved at the February Court 1757. 

12 Feb 1757
Deed: David Hunter to John Hay, both of Sussex County, Virginia, for £5 Virginia, two tracts totaling 965 acres being granted to sd. David Hunter by John Earl Granville bearing date 27 October 1753. Signed: David Hunter. Witness: Robert Jones Jr., David Jones, Wm. Hunter.  Proved May Ct. 1757.  [Halifax County Deed Book 6, page 193.]

23 Oct 1758
Will of Richard Richards: Sons John, Jesse, Richard.  Wife and executrix Rebecca Richards.  Executor David Crawley.  Witness: Wm. Kinchen, Wm. Hayes, John Green.  Edgecombe County.  [J. Bryan Grimes, Abstracts of North Carolina Wills (1910), page 313.]

This was recorded at the Secretary of State’s office. Grimes’ book consists of wills that may or may not have been entered into the county will books.

Jan 1759
Effective date of formation of Halifax County from Edgecombe County. The courthouse at Halifax was within Halifax County, so it inherited Edgecombe’s records.

Jan 1759
Deed (day of month left blank): Gilbert Hays & Jean his wife to John Good, all of Halifax County, for £100 Virginia, 150 acres beginning at a corner hickory on the branch in Reves line thence east along the line to a corner hickory Wm. Collier’ scorner thence south along Collier’s line… Signed: Gilbert Hays, Jene (sic) (x) Hays. Witness: Amos (x) Sampson, Wm (x) Collier, Jno (x) Hays.  Proved September Ct. 1759. [Halifax County Deed Book 7 page 51.]

This is the last of the tract he bought from John Spann in 1749.

Gilbert Hays removed to South Carolina where he was granted land in Craven County in 1764.  After defaulting on a bond in Berkley County in 1768 he removed to British West Florida where he died about 1778.  According to a descendant, he testified in court there that he was born in Williamsburg, Virginia about 1727. Surry County seems more likely.

14 July 1760
Writ: George II to Sheriff of Halifax County… to form a jury to value 150 acres on Tuckahoe Swamp owned in fee tail by William Hays…  being part of a patent to Benjamin McKinnie of 640 acres granted 2 April 1741.  On 26 August 1760 the jury valued the property at £40 and confirmed that it was not contiguous to any other property owned by William Hays.  [Halifax County Deed Book 7 page 111.]

This means that he had inherited land that was entailed.  Land held in fee tail could not be sold or devised in a will, so William Hays is preparing to convert the ownership to fee simple by establishing that it met the requirements of a writ of “ad quod damnum” — a legal device used to dock the entail and convert the ownership to fee simple whose use was limited by the Legislature to property of low value.

The original grant to McKinnie (see Grant Book 5, page 810) was on the “Connahonaro” Swamp.  This is now called the Conoconnara Swamp — ir rises in central Halifax County and flows northeast into the Roanoke River.

13 Sept 1760
Deed: William Hays to Stephen Dewey, all of Halifax County, for £30, 150 acres… William Hays being seized of an estate in fee tail of 150 acres… to better effect the [sale] has procured a writ of ad quod damnum 14 July 1760… bounded as by a deed from James Carter to the said William Hays bearing date 27 February 1759… Signed: William Hays.  Witnesses: None.   Mary Hays the wife of said Wm. Hays being privately examined… September Ct. 1760. [Halifax County Deed Book 7 page 112.]

I could not find such a deed from James Carter to William Hays in either Halifax or Edgecombe.  However, there is a deed from James Carter to Peter Jones dated 26 February 1755 that explains this.  In that deed, James Carter states that Peter Jones had married his daughter and gives 150 acres on Tuckahoe Marsh to “Petter (sic) Jones and his heirs begotten upon the body of the sd. Carter’s daughter”. That language conveys the tract in fee tail rather than fee simple.  (That is, it coveys the land to Peter Jones AND to a specific set of heirs, thus preventing Peter Jones from disposing of the land himself.)

It isn’t clear whether William Hays has married another daughter of James Carter or the widow of Peter Jones.

3 August 1760
Will: Peter Hays of the province of North Carolina in the County (sic) being sick and weak in body…
Item, I give unto my son Charles Hays five shillings
Item, I give unto my daughter Hannah five shillings [no surname noted]
Item, I give unto my daughter Rebeca Emry five shillings
Item, I give unto my daughter Edy Phillips five shillings
Item, I give unto my daughter Selve Hays five shillings
Item, I give unto my daughter Winney Hilliard five shillings
Item, I give unto my daughter Milly Hays five shillings
Item, I give unto my daughter Hille (?) Hays five shillings
Item, I give unto my son Ruben Hays five shillings
and as for all and every other part of my estate I give to my wife Martha Hays whome I appoint my executor of this will and testament as witness my hand and seal..
Signed: Peter (x) Hays  Witness: Thos. Good, Wm. (x) Rogers, Ruben (x) Hays.  Proved by Ruben Hays March Ct. 1761 [Halifax County Will Book 1, p24.]

This is indexed in the Will Book as Peter “Hay”.  His signature mark was reproduced by the clerk as a simple slash. This is the only record I found in Halifax County for Peter Hay(s) — raising the question of who he was living with and in what part of Halifax County.  He came from Southampton County, Virginia where he had sold his land in 1749 to Henry Ivey Jr., the son of his wife’s brother-in-law, and in 1754 to his son-in-law Francis Hilliard, husband of Winney Hays.  Peter Hays had married Martha Sledge about 1726 in Surry County, Virginia and migrated southward.  His children were clearly relatively young when this will was written. 

It isn’t clear whether the son Reuben Hays was the same person as the Reuben Hays who witnessed the will.  There does not seem to be an inventory recorded..  Neither Charles Hays nor Reuben Hays appears in subsequent Halifax records.

Rebecca Emry was the wife of Edward Emry (Emory) who wrote his will in Halifax County on 6 February 1792 naming his wife Rebecca and leaving a legacy to, among others, Temperance Hilliard “if she be alive”.  Winney Hilliard, as mentioned above, was the wife of Francis Hilliard.

5 Sept 1762
Will:  Edward Jackson… Names wife Mary, son Isaac Jackson and “my five daughters” Johannah Green, Jane Hays, Mary Jackson, Pattey Jackson and Elizabeth Jackson.  Executors sons Isaac Jackson and Thomas Jackson.   Witness: Charles Sanders, John Good, Francis Myrick. Proved September Ct. 1762.  [Halifax County Will Book 1, page 81.]

Jane is the wife of Gilbert Hays.

15 Apr 1764
Deed: Joseph John Williams to William Hays, both of Halifax County, for £10 Virginia, 25 acres beginning at three white oaks Yancy’s corner thence along his line S15E 120p to a maple on the Beaverdam Swamp thence down the swamp 24p to a maple in William Alston’s line thence to the first station. Signed: Joseph John Williams.  Witness: Thomas (blank). Proved April Ct. 1764. [Halifax County Deed Book 9 page 3.]

2 June 1769
Deed: Samuel Lassiter to Joseph Hayse, both of Edgecombe County, for £25 Virginia, 100 acres beginning at the mouth of the flat branch & thence up the said branch to the upper fork of the branch & from thence a strait (sic) course to Samuel Lassiter’s back line… to the creek at the mouth of the Deep Bottom… Signed: Samuel Lassiter.  Witness: Tobias Lassiter, John Williams, Thomas Hays.  Proved February Ct. 1770.  {Edgecombe County Deed Book D, page 186.]

This land is in what became Nash County in 1777.  Joseph Hays is listed in the 1782 tax list of Nash County with 150 acres, and appears there in the 1790 census with 2 males over 21 and under 60, 4 males under 21 or over 60, five females and 20 slaves.

Muster Roll of James Wooten’s Company of Johnston County Militia:
Joseph Hayes
[Colonial and State Records of North Carolina, Vol. 22, page 332. Also Colonial Soldiers of the South, 1732-1774, page 807.]

Numerous internet posts attribute a date of 1754, but the list was marked by an archivist as “ca 1770”.

7 May 1774
Deed: Thomas Marshall & Winifred his wife to William Hays, all of Halifax County, for £62:10s proclamation, 17½ acres beginning at a white oak thence N 40p to a pine thence W 82p to a pine thence S 24p to the road, thence down the various courses of the road E 78p to the beginning, being the land & plantation whereon William Robert formerly lived; also a tract of 100 acres beginning at two red oaks and a Spanish oak at Burt’s corner thence NNE 224p to a corner pine in Richard Burt’s line then S7SE 3p to John Marshall’s corner thence S80E 50p to a blackjack in Nevill’s line…; also a tract of 80 acres beginning at a hickory in the line of Roberts plantation herein before rented…  Signed: Thomas(x) Marshall, Winifred (x) Marshall. No witnesses.  Proved My Ct. 1774.  [Halifax County Deed Book 13 page 1.]

3 March 1776
Theophilus Hays enlisted in army for 2½ years. [NARA card]

19 Aug 1778
Deed: William Smith & Sarah his wife, to Mary Hayes, all of Halifax County, for £25 proclamation, beginning at George Gardner corner red oak then east to a corner red oak then north to to Williamson Haile’s corner red oak then along said Haile’s line until they get sixty acres… which said land Edward Crosland sold to Thomas Hail and by the said Thomas Haile sold to the said William Smith…  Signed: William Smith, Sarah (x) Smith.  Witness: William McCluochan, Thos. Coleman.  Proved August Ct. 1778.  [Halifax County Deed Book 14 page 3.]

Her husband Theophilus Hays is off serving in the Revolution. See below.

9 Sept 1778
Muster Roll of Major Hardy Murfree’s Company, 2nd North Carolina Battalion at White Plains, NY:  … Theophilus Hays… [The (North Carolina) Colonial and State Records, Vol. XIII. page 521.]

Halifax Tax List:
William Hays — 100 acres, 1 white poll  (District 2)
Theophilus Hays — 50 acres, 1 white poll  (District 5)

Halifax Tax List:
William Hays — £193 estate value, 16s:1d tax  (District 2)
Theophilus Hay (sic) — £15 estate value, 1s:3d tax (District 5)

Halifax Tax List:
William Hays — 150 acres, 1 white poll  (District 2)
Theophilus Hase — 60 acres, 1 white poll (District 5)

North Carolina, unlike Virginia, only taxed white males aged 21 and over.

Jan/Feb 1786
State Census taken for Halifax County:
James Hays 1 0 0 0 0 (District 4)
William Hays 1 0 2 0 1 (District 2)
Theophilus Hayse 1 2 3 0 0 (District 5)

2 Oct 1786
Deed: Theophilus Hays & Marah (Mary) his wife of Halifax County to William Duberry, for £45 Virginia, 60 acres beginning at George Gardner’s corner red oak then east to a corner white oak then north to Williamson Haile’s corner red oak then along said Haile’s line until they get sixty acres… which said land Edward Crosland sold to Thomas Hail and by the said Thomas Haile sold to William Smith…  Signed: Theophilus (x) Hays, Mary (x) Hayes. Witness: Henry Blays, Jesse Hayle.  Proved August Ct. 1787.[Halifax County Deed Book 16 page 333.]

He enlisted on 3 March 1776 for 2½ years in the 10th North Carolina but later appears on a muster roll of Major Hardy Murfree’s company of the 2nd North Carolina Battalion 9 September 1778 at Valley Forge as well as later muster rolls.  He was issued a military warrant for land in Tennessee, and in 1788 entered a claim in Sumner County which resulted in a 1791 grant of 411 acres. [NC Grant Book 77, page 358.]

He moved to Granville County after selling his land, where he appears on the 1788 tax list.

8 Sept 1787
Bill of Sale: William Spikes of Richland District, South Carolina, to Sampson Hays (county not given), for £150 proclamation, one negro wench Beck and child Charlot.  Signed: William (x) Spikes.  Witness: Mary Nessery?, Richard Bailey.  Proved February Ct. 1788. [Halifax County Deed Book 16 page 476.]

5 Jan 1789
Deed: John Hayse & his wife Sarah Hayse to Henry Williams, all of Edgecombe County, for £25, 90 acres on the north side Tyancokey Swamp beginning at a persimmon at Jarst’s old field in Elijah Horn’s line then along a jury line of marked trees to the cross fence and a line of chopt stumps running with the sd. fence… to a pine in Samuel DeLoachs line thence along the sd. Samuel DeLoachs & Jesse DeLoaches former line to his the sd, Samuel DeLoachs corner in Elijah Horns line then along the sd. Elijah Horns line to the beginning it being one-third part of the land formerly the property of Solomon DeLoach dec’d which land the sd. Sarah Hayse wife of the sd. John Hayse was seized and possessed as her dower & since become the wife of sd. John Hayse…  Signed: John (x) Hayse, Sarah (x) Hayse.  Witness: Samuel DeLoach, Absalom Williams.  Proved February Ct. 1789. [Edecombe County Deed Book 5, page 63.]

10 July 1789
Deed: William Hays to Benjamin Nevill, both of Halifax County, for £80, [the three tracts purchased in 1774 from Thomas Marshall].  Signed: William Hayes (sic). Witness: Thomas (x) Hawkins, Benj. Hawkins.  Proved February Ct. 1789.  [Halifax County Deed Book 17 page 171.]

1790 Census:
Adam Hays  1 0 0 0 0

No Hays deeds for more than 30 years

18 Oct 1817
Marriage Bond: Jesse Hays to Mary Brooks. Security: Francis C. Broom.

1 March 1820
Deed: Mark W. Taylor to Jesse Hays, both of Halifax, for $190, 76 acres beginning a a post oak on Hills road running thence S41E 169p to three sweet gums in Culpepper road thence along said road N19E 22p, N15E 98p to a blackjack stump or pile of rocks on the side of said road then S84W 36p to a pine in a prong of Kits Branch thence up the said branch to Hills Road thence along Hills road…  Signed: Mark W. Taylor.  Witness: Jesse Peebles, Richard Daniel. Proved May Ct. 1822. [Halifax County Deed Book 25 page 517.]

23 Aug 1820
Deed: William Taylor & Thomas B. Taylor to Jesse Hays, all of Halifax County, for $93, 46½ acres beginning at a post oak on HIlls road thence down HIlls road N44½E 28p then N51E 30p to a post oak Jesse Hays corner then along Hays line S41E 146p to a sweet gum in Culpepers road…  Signed: William Taylor, Thomas B. Taylor. Witness: V. Baily, Drury Daniel.  Proved February Ct. 1825.  [Halifax County Deed Book 26 page 177.]

2 Jan 1822
Deed: Jesse Hays to Robert Jelles, both of Halifax County,for $1,000, 330 acres, a tract whereon Thomas Curtin? formerly lived… north side of Breeches Swamp…  Signed: Jesse Hays.  Witness: Valentine Bailey, A. B. Culinn (sic). [Halifax County Deed Book 25 page 453.]

12 Jan 1822
Deed: Jesse Hays to William Lanier, both of Halifax, for $420 a tract of 175 acres beginning at t a blackjack or pile of rocks on Culpepers road Archibald Daniel’s corner then along a branch to Hills road then up Hills road to a post oak William Taylor’s corner then along Taylor’s line a straight course to Culpepper’s road to a post oak, turkey oak and blackjack William Taylor’s corner then down Culpepper road to the first station.  Signed: Jesse Hays.  Witness: V. Bailey, Thomas White.  [Halifax County Deed Book 25, page 567.]

This is the 76 acres he bought in 1820 plus another 100 acres.

22 Dec 1823
Mortgage Deed: Jesse Hays to Francis Broom (no counties mentioned),,, whereas Jesse is indebted to John (sic) Broom in the amount of $500 payable 25 December next… to secure debt, for $1, mortgages to the sd. Frank a negro woman Sarah & her two children Isabel & Eliza. Signed: Jesse Hays.  Witness: Thomas White.  [Halifax County Deed Book 26, page 107.]

17 May 1825
Deed of Trust:  Whereas Robert L. Whitaker is security for Jesse Hays’ bond of $120 to Dancy Adams dated 10 May 1825, no Jesse Hays mortgages to James C. Faucett as trustee one negro girl named Isbell, one negro boy named John, one grey colt, bed & furniture… Signed: Jesse Hays, James C. Faucett, Robert L. Whitaker.  Registered May Ct. 1825. [Halifax County Deed Book 26, page 221.]


I stopped collecting records at this point after establishing that there did not appear to be any later records that bore on the colonial-era families of Edgecombe or Halifax.