Samuel Hays & Tilpah – 1761 Will


Numerous internet posts and compiled genealogies identify this man as the Samuel Hays who was the son of Peter Hays and Elizabeth Flake, mentioned briefly in Historical Southern Families, Volume 15 in a paper by Arnold Edmund Hayes.1

This appears to be based on his will of 1761 — which clearly identifies his father as John Hays.

The will of Samuel Hays, cooper, was dated 24 April 1761 and proved at the August court later that year in Northampton County, North Carolina:2

“In the name of God amen, the twenty fourth day of April 1761. I Samuel Hays of the County of Northampton, cooper, being very sick & weak in body but of perfect mind… make & ordain this my last will & testament… as touching such worldly estate wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me in this life I give, demise & dispose of the same in the following manner & form.  Item, I give & bequeath to Tilpah my dearly beloved wife seven pewter plates & two basins & two pewter dishes & one mare colt, two cows & one yearling, one bed & furniture & one spinning wheel. Also I give to my well beloved daughter Anne Hays eight pewter plates & three pewter basins & two dishes, one bed & sheet & one blanket & bolster, two cows & one yearling and my dearly beloved father John Hays to be my executor.”

The will was signed by his mark and witnessed by John Hays, George Reed, and Tilpah Hays.  No inventory or estate sale was recorded, probably because the estate was so small.

John Hays executed his bond as executor of the estate of Samuel Hays, deceased, on 28 November 1761 with Willis Boddie and Reuben Bass his securities.3

Samuel Hays was probably in his twenties when he died.  He was landless and his will mentions only one child and very little personal property.  His only other appearance in the records is his witness, along with John Hays, to the will of Andrew Taylor drawn on 1 March 1759.4


Was his wife named Tilpah or Filpah or Zilpah?

The will seems to spell her name Filpah in the body and Tilpah as a witness.  Margaret M. Hofmann, in her book of will abstracts, reported both occurrences of the name as Filpah.  In examining the handwriting of the clerk who copied the will into the will book, the first letter of her name in the body of the will looks closer to an “F” than to a “T”.  But the name of the witness is clearly rendered with a “T”.  The first letter of the witness’s name looks identical to the initial letter of “Testament” and quite different than the initial letter of “Father”.

However, it is possible that the clerk meant to render the letter “Z”.  Zilpah in the Bible was the younger sister of Leah who she gave to Jacob to bear his children.  Unfortunately I could not find the letter “Z” written anywhere by the clerk to compare.



  1. A. E. Hayes, “Hayes-Hays of Virginia & North Carolina”, Historical Southern Families, Vol. 15 (1973), page 172 and 175. []
  2. Northampton County Will Book 1, page 54. []
  3. The bond is not preserved in Northampton County records, but was fortuitously saved among the court records of Granville County.  Reuben Bass moved to Granville County and Willis Boddie sued him there, producing the bond as evidence, where it was saved among the loose estate records of Granville County. []
  4. North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol. 1 (January 1900) , page 493.  Also in  Abstract of North Carolina Wills Compiled from Original and Recorded Wills in the Office of the Secretary of State, John Bryan Grimes (1910), page 371.  A  Northampton County will but not in will books. []