Further notes on Robert and William Hay

Elsewhere in this notebook I have copied in full a biographical sketch of my grandfather, Robert Lyle Hay, which appears in a book entitled “Biographical Record of Henry County, Illa.” In it are certain items concerning his father, grandfather and great-grandfather which are so much at variance with what I have believed to be the facts that I feel note should be made of them.

The little that I know about these older members of the family came from two sources, my grandfather and my great aunt Margaret Patterson. Neither of them had any documentary evidence to fall back upon but as both had been in close touch with their parents for many years and grandfather had been in touch with his grandparents until he was over 20 years of age, I regarded them as reasonably good sources of information. Aunt Margaret appeared to be especially well informed and was acknowledged by grandfather to know much more about the family history than he did.

While visiting in Annawan in the summer of 1896, I got Aunt Margaret to tell me all she knew about the family and I made careful notes of what she said. These notes were shortly afterward read to my grandfather and his ideas on the subject were written down and at the first opportunity discussed with Aunt Margaret. I though that I had the facts settled as definitely as the conditions permitted.

According to Aunt Margaret, William Hay came to America in 1811 with a company of Scotch lowlanders who landed in Philadelphia, made their way to Pittsburgh and, descending the Ohio River by boat, stopped near Madison, Indiana, and settled on farms near the present town of Hanover. Whether William Hay brought his wife and four children with him or was followed two years later by them she was uncertain, but she thought they all came together. Some years later Robert Hay, William’s father, decided to join his son in America and came by way of Canada in order to visit a married daughter who was living thee with her husband. While with this daughter he was taken sick and died. The year of his death was definitely given as 1818 but the locality in Canada was unknown to Aunt Margaret and she was uncertain about the name of the daughter although whe thought it was either Lyle or Turnbull. Aunt Margaret also told me that when William Hay came to America, two children, Ann and John, were left behind in Scotland and that both of them died there.

My grandfather was quite sure that William Hay had brought his family with him and agreed that 1811 was the date. He put the date of Robert Hay’s death in Canada as 1818 and thought that the name of the married daughter was Lyle rather than Turbull. He said he had heard the story about the children who remained in Scotland but had paid little attention to it and had never known their names.

In a history of Bureau County, Ills. Published in 1877it is stated that William Hay came to America in 1811 bt in all the more recent histories 1813 is given as the date. My grandfather, in a letter dated 1895, states that it was 1813. My greatgrandfather, who was born n 1800, is said to have been 13 years old when he arrived in America, but I think this information was supplied by my grandfather. In the letter just referred to, grandfather says that his grandmother was either a lyle or a Turnbull, he did not know which, but he was sure that her first name was Ann. Four or five years later he appears to have decided that her name was Anna Turnbull. However there is some evidence that this last decision was right. My uncle F. M. Hay tells me in a letter that when he was a boy on the farm near Bradford, a little weasoned old man named Tommy Lyle used to come around about once a year to assist with certain work on the place and was recognized by the family as his father’s second cousin. Now, if Robert Hay’s daughter had married a Lyle, her son’s son would have borne this relationship to my grandfather but if Robert Hay’s wife was a Lyle this old man would have been no more than a fourth cousin. In this connection also, my uncle F. M. Hay tells me that he once spent the night with another old man, Tom Turnbull, a Scotchman, living about eight miles from Bradford, who regaled him with an account of how he was distantly related to the Hays.

In Scotland during the time of Robert Hay there were both Lyles and Turnbulls living in the same neighborhood. Some of the Lyles came to America and settled in southern Indiana and are buried in Carmel Cemetery, where William Hay and his wife are interred. It is entirely possible that my grandfather’s name Lyle was taken from some friend and neighbor, perhaps with the added incentive that it was the name of his great aunt and uncle.

I think it is a fair conclusion from the evidence given that the wife of Robert Hay was Ann Turnbull and that the name of the married daughter in Canada was Lyle.

I think, also, that 1811, rather than 1813, should be accepted as the date of William Hay’s coming to America. It is the date given in the older accounts and is much the more probably one. From 1812 to 1814 England and the United States were at war and crossing the ocean during those years must have been impossible or very hazardous. I have not been able to learn that my greatgrandfather himself ever stated that he was 13 years old when he came to this country. The statement was probably made in mistake by my grandfather, it may have been a typographical error or the author of some biographical sketch may have made a slip, but one having gotten into print became authoritative.

On the record sheet for William Hay I have suggested the possibility that the family he brought with him from Scotland was his second one and that there may have been an earlier marriage and a wife of whom we have no record. This idea has come to me as I have perused the meager data that I have been able to collect and is wholly my own supposition. Nevertheless I think it is worth considering.

William Hay was born in 1763, his son Thomas in 1800. (I have always had the opinion that Thomas was the oldest child, followed by Isabel, Elizabeth and Ann. Elizabeth was born in 1804 and Ann in 1809. I am resonably certain of these dates, but have not been able to find out when Isabel was born. However, William Hay was 37 years old when Thomas was born, certainly rather an advanced age at which to start a family.

Then there is the story of the children left behind in Scotland. They must have been older, by probably not less than 10 years, than Thomas, for we are told that Ann had married, a man supposed to be named Davidson, and John was a school teacher. The fact that the name Ann was given to the youngest daughter would indicate that the older Ann had died prior to 1809. Assuming that the story of Ann and John is true, there were thus two sets of children with an interval of probably 10 years between them which is most easily explained by attributing them to different wives.

But there is still another possibility. Jane Ann Taylor, William Hay’s wife was also well along in life, being 35 years old, at the time Thomas was born. It may be that the children who did not come to America were hers by an earlier marriage.

The name Cranston is another surname which has come down to recent generations as that of one of the family forebears. I suspect that it was the name of Jane Ann Taylor’s mother. There were Cranstons in lowland Scotland and one of my great-greatgrandmother’s brothers was Cranston Taylor.

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NOTES: The above was written by William Perry Hay sometime prior to his death in 1947. Since then, the following documentation has been found:
• The Scottish birth records for Isabel Hay was found in Scotland, and confirms that she was the oldest child, old enough to have been married in Scotland before the emigration to America in 1811
• 1811 is confirmed as the date that the family emigrated, and it is believed that all emigrated together, and that the landing was in New York not in Philadelphia.
• With the Scottish birth records for Isabella, Margaret and John, it appears that this was a first marriage for both William and Jane Taylor, and the older children left behind in Scotland, appear to be John and Margaret. Due to her age, Margaret is assumed to have died prior to the voyage.