Most surnames evolved from four general sources: occupation, location, patronymic (one’s fathers name) and characteristic. The name Gay is believed to be locational and characteristic in origin, associated with the English meaning “dweller near Gaye in Normandy, and one who is light hearted and cheerful in spirit.”
Variations in spelling of this surname Gay, Gaye, Legay, Gai, so there may be other of our Gay relatives using one of these variations. Ancient records contain the name Gaye, but the spelling of Gay is the one most widely used today in England and America. Early dates of Gaye families were found in the Channel Islands after the Normandy Conquest on the Isle of Wight, in the English shires (counties) of Oxford, Somerset, Kent, Norfolk, and London.
In Oxyfordshire a Gaye families ancestry was traced to Norman origin before the year 1100 and first appears in these ancient records.
Of interest to researchers, of 936 Gays listed in Gloucester, England between 1685 and 1885. Gay name found in Scotland, Ireland, between these dates. Although we have no proof of who our Gay ancestors were before the ones who settled in America, it is interesting to note the people in England with the Gay, Gae, Guy, Gai, Gaye surname. The Gay families of England and those early Gays in America, it is probable that all the early bearers of the name Gay in America are from John Gay, of Deham, England born 1612.
According to old records, the Gays appear to be among the very early British settlers in the New World as immigrants, settling long before there were boundaries or territories. It became easier to pin point where these ancestors originated when counties were formed, however, they kept moving and expanding into other territories north, south, east and west.
We have taken care to document facts and tried to list all sources, but, as in all works of this type errors can be found. History books, public records in County Courthouses, cemetery gravestones, old newspapers, older family members and the WORLD WIDE WEB. In many cases there are contradictions in the dates and a judgment has to made, birth records reveal names of some persons who seemed to have never existed under that name.
This history research is not perfect and is incomplete, but hopefully it is current enough that anyone could easily pick up their family nameline and bloodline and complete their branch of direct lineage. This could not have been possible without the help of many people. The researchers reap the rewards from the project being able to meet or correspond with and share a few memories with uncles, aunts and cousins.
John Gay, from England, believed to have been the first of the name in America, records found about 1630 in Watertown, MA., may well have been the ancestor of most of the Gays in America, later settling in Orange County, Virginia. There are records, genealogical documents showing Johm Gay as a Quaker, there are many of his ancesters and descendants across the United States of which I believe I am one.
John Gay, of Watertown, Ma. and his wife, Joanna Baldwalke had eleven children, Samuel, Hezekiah, Nathaniel, Joanna, Eliezar, Abiel, Judith, John, William, Hannah and Elizabeth. Their descendants are as follows: 1. Samuel Gay married Mary Bridge in 1661 and had Samuel, Edward, John, Hezakiah and Timothey, 2. Hezekiah Gay died without issue at about nineteen years of age, 3. Nathaniel Gay, of Medfield, Ma. married Lydia Lusher and had Benjamin and Daniel who both died young, Mary, Lydia, Nathaniel, Lusher, Joanna, Benjamin, Abgail and Ebenezar, 4. Joanna Gay, 5. Eliczar Gay, was married to a woman named Lydia and had Eliczar, Lydia and John. 6. Abiel Gay, 7. Judith Gay, 8. John Gay, married Rebecca Bacon and they had Rebecca, John, Stephen, Abigail and Hezekiah. 9. William Gay, married Mary Bullard in 1687, and had Hannah, Mary, Jeremiah, Sarah, Johnatan and Abigail. Some historians believe that another John Gay also resided in Watertown, Ma. around 1688. His wife was named Hannah and they had two children, Hannah and Thomas.
Also around 1744, six brothers, William, James, John, Robert, Henry and Samuel Gay and their sister Elizabeth came from England and made their homes in the south. William Gay, married a Margaret Walkup, and had William and Robert and daughter Mary. John married Jean Ramsey and had a daughter named Jean and a son. Robert Gay, settled in Augusta County, Va. about 1750 descended from the above mentioned branch of the family. He moved to Pochontas County, Va. around 1775 his first wife was Hannah Moore. They had eight children Samuel, George, Andrew, Robert, James, Virginia¸ Elizabeth and Agnes.
These Gays settled in various counties of Virginia and have spread to many states across America and have aided in the growth and expansion of the country as did their ancestors in its founding.
The Gay surname, the Gay families are one of the oldest families in America coming from England among the very earliest immigrants, settling long before there were boundaries or territories. When counties were formed it made it easier to pin point where these ancestors originated. They kept on moving, expanding into other territories north, south, east and west. Researchers now find proof by documents, wills, deeds, and other entitles and public records, marriage, birth, death, census in tracing the Gay surname. The forming of Orange County, Virginia created in early 1700’s and the keeping of public records has helped researchers with more productive documented history.
Orange County, Virginia has the distinction of having been the largest Virginia County ever formed. It covered the vast unknown territory extending from the present eastern boundary to the Mississippi River on the west to the Great Lakes on the north. A settlement was formed in 1714 by a group of German immigrants on the banks of the Rapidan River called Germanna. At that time it represented the western frontier for English settlements in the New World. There was an expedition from Germanna westward over the Blue Ridge Mountains, designed to make known the fact the mountains were passable and that vast rich land lay beyond westward. This venture led to the ultimate settlement and the development of our United States.
Orange County’s contribution was large in the development of our history. The evidence of that history is discovered in our research of the public records, they are complete from the County’s creation to present day. The division of this County into now Augusta County, the west side of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Bath, Albermarle and Rockbridge Counties.
Often through lack of contact, relatives become mere acquaintances even strangers. In reading these pages, both present and future generations may be more closely bound together in family pride, admiration and esteem for each other.
Some dates may be in error and names misspelled, but, we tried to include both names and dates according to the information obtained from the different family members and public records. It is not compiled for it’s literary worth or for monetary compensation.
We are in hopes that the future generations of the GAY FAMILY will search for more information concerning the genealogy of these connected families and add to this accumulation of research by supplementing this edition with that information.
It would be interesting to have a brief sketch of those early settlers of the GAY FAMILY, but, it would make for a very large book, however, they represented all the elements of American Civilization and they possessed common sense and vision for the future of this section of the country.
It is said, God leads his children in mysterious ways and chooses only those that are willing to follow their impulse and have courage to face all the hardships of life. So it would seem God blessed our fore fathers with this “hill country” that was the wild section of the Virginia Colony.
The GAY FAMILY inherited through birth the principle of honor, honesty, courage and manhood, the love of home, liberty and happiness. The religious influence for good among these old settlers contributed to the morals of the people, as a result the children grew up with sacred regard for righteous living.
The pioneer settlers in the GAY’S, led in the work of uncovering the valleys and hills of tangled forests, converting the land into fertile fields. Every mountain peak is a monument to all the struggles and all achievements, the sloping hillsides were transformed into plantations and industry by our fore fathers.
Since the future is built on the past we need to know as much of our past as we can. The health, longevity, cause of death, physical traits, physical features, and personalities of our ancestors are in part reflected in us, be that good or be that bad. It is up to us to know this so that we can profit from it or cope with it for our betterment and avoid downfall.
The information in this work was researched over several years. It is not compiled for it’s literery worth or for monetary compensation. It is compiled so that those who come after us may know part of “From Whence They Came”. We can define our personal “heritage” by records of the past, recent and present history are not so easy to define.
Perhaps you have wondered why your grandparents have treasured and protected a piece of memoribilia, a photo, an old bible or locket; perhaps you’ve wondered why holidays are celebrated differently on your mother’s side of the family in regard to your father’s.
Preserving memories, customs and traditions of your family
heritage, research preserves the family story and individual identify and
helps communicate with living family members. A general look at your name,
and the people who share it will help expand your knowledge of the GAY
family surname, history and lineage.
“Pieces of the past” collected and pieced together, unlocking clues from other family memebers can help tell the story of origin. Unfortunately many of our older relatives will have left us before we had gleamed their knowledge.
Who were these people with our family surname of GAY? In what parts of the world did they originate, and come from and where did they settle. Why did they leave their homeland? Have spelling changes occurred in the name since its origin, was it changed by time, migration, or by ignorance?
As you read on, allow yourself to remember and associate what you may have heard an older relative talk about ______ it my fit into the “puzzle” as a long lost piece. For beyond a certain point (which may be any where, any time) our origin became a mystery.
Our origins change, there are changes in names, but remember individual families are a part of a larger group of people. To understand our origin we must first know the history of the people preceeding us. The when and where of our origins ______ it is agreed after the ultimate beginning men began to migrate mostly as family groups, some stayed put, but a large amout of members migrated to other lands.
“Immigration To North America The Beginning”
The earliest immigrants were motivated by profit and self gain. The Spanish were interested in Haiti and West Indies and Florida; the English to Cape Hatteras and Jamestown. Farther north inside the great Chesepeake Bay basin, and farther up the James River, a colony was formed at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 by Captain John Smith and several other English adventures.
Many immigrants to America were drawn from Great Britian and Europe to escape disquiet and persecution. Many researchers today can trace their origin from the Mayflower by written records. Other records are church rolls, property ownership records even court punishment records.
These people of moderate piety sought relief from economic problems of England. Seeing no chance to own even a meager plot of land, they choose the long voyages to the “NEW WORLD”.
Other settlements were founded, Boston and the original Pymouth settlement, moving west along the Connecticut River founding the colonies of Hartford and Windsor, people commonly referred to as “Quakers” settling in Philadelphia. The Anabaptists or Minnonites came from Germany, Holland and England, first settled near Philadelphia and called this settlement “GERMANTOWN”.
The Mennonites of Germantown, another branch of Mennonites, the Amish, (upland Anabaptist) settled farther west calling it “LANCASTER”, this cloister known as the “Pennsylvania Dutch”. Other Amish pushed on westward into Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin, and more pushed on westward settling in the prairie lands of Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa.
These are our modest beginnings from which began a series
of migration westward.
"Early Gay Immigrants to North America"
The Gay individuals who left their homes for life in the NEW WORLD were courageous
“Passenger arrivals Port of Baltimore (1820-1834)”
Jas., age 12 arrived in Baltimore, Md. in 1829
Jno., age 18 arrived in Baltimore, Md. 1829
John, age 40 arrived in Baltimore, Md. 1829
Lewis, age 10 arrived in Baltimore, Md. 1829
“Port of New York”
Antheline arrived in New York in 1784
“Port of Virginia”
James arrived in Virginia in 1623
Pierre, age 20 in Virginia in 1719
Saml arrived in Virginia in 1740
Thomas arrived in Virginia in 1622
Mary arrived in Virginia in 1663
Richard arrived in Virginia in 1663
Wilban arrived in Virginia in 1634
William arrived in Virginia in 1663
William arrived in Barbados in 1663
“From Canada and Nova Scotia”
David arrived in Ohio in 1798
William arrived in Powhatan Co., Va. in 1777
Anne arrived in Virginia in 1663
Geo arrived in Virginia in 1654
Henry arrived in Virginia in 1663
Margaret arrived in Virginia in 1664
Sara arrived in Virginia in 1664
Thomas arrived in Virginia in 1661
William, age 20 arrived in Virginia 1635
William arrived in Virginia in 1772
Anne arrived in Maryland in 1723
John arrived in Maryland in 1641
Johns arrived in Maryland in 1642
John arrived in Massachusetts in 1635
Johns arrived in Dedham, Ma. 1644
John arrived in Dedham, Ma. in 1635
Johns arrived in Watertown, Ma. in 1630
Jothan arrived in Boston, Ma., in 1769
Francois, age 22 arrived in Quebec in 1671
“Directory of Scots banished to the New World”
Edward arrived in the New World in 1678
Francis to Philadelphia in 1795
Jacob arrived in Pennsylvania in 1765
Chas. W., age 28 arrived in Philadelphia, Pa. in 1822
Robert, age 30 arrived in Philadelphia in 1823
George arrived in Philadelphia in 1852
James, arrived in Philadelphia in 1823
James, Jr. arrived in Philadelphia in 1855
Johns arrived in Philadelphia in 1855
Johns arrived in Philadelphia in 1840
Thomas arrived in Philadelphia in 1826
Richard, age 24 arrived in Jamaca in 1685
Theodore arrived in Charles Town, SC in 1763
Arthur arrived in Alleghany Co., Pa. in 1892
Our ancestors came to the “New World” by ship from Europe, the providence of England was crowded full of people and the hardships of living became impossible. They are tempted and encouraged to leave their home land for a better future.What they endured aboard the ships sailing to America to the “New World” it has been said, “the conditions were not fit for man or beast”
The journey lasts for many months amid hardships and misery as no one is able to describe. The people are packed like herrings in the large sea-vessels, one person received about a 2`wide by 6` long bedstead for one ship would carry from four to six hundred people plus all the implements and supplies. They had to endure terrible misery, odor from sea sickness, fever, dysentery and illnesses caused by old and heavily salted food and meat, and foul water, many died.
Think what the first sight of land would have been like for the immigrants, our ancestors. With this it seems our ancestors endured a great hardship and a traumatic experience to come to America, the “New World” for a better life. It’s been said that aboard the ships, only men over the age of eighteen were allowed to sign the passenger book, which could explain why through our research names could not be found.
Our ancestors lived but simple lives, held together by mutual beliefs and helpfulness; first, their greatest aim was building shelters, cabins, clear the land and provide their families food. The improvements gauged predominately by the indefinite means of necessity.
This necessity drove them with the passion of hunting and rambling, and discovery many times leaving their families to shift for their selves for long periods of time. Finally returning home with their bounties of meat, fur, hides, all means for survival.
The senses of these frontier settlers were as keen as the native Indian and the wilderness became an open book to them all. The child at a very early age joined his father in hunt and in the fields, learning to use and respect the fire arm referred to as “flintlock”. In the hands of the true woodsman the gun was a weapon of defense and protection.
The early settlers lived in a stage of independent economy producing everything from bread to their clothing. The grubbing of earth to plant corn in early spring done by the man found little time for clearing of more forest during growing season. The women, married and unmarried spent their time quilting a bed cover or separating sheep’s wool for weaving yarn. Often times there was mutual trade off of neighbors helping first one settler then another, he who rolled logs for another would then have help in rolling his logs giving the true meaning to being a neighbor.
It would be hard to imagine what the feeling and sensations
of our ancestors were, born and raised in a country in Europe, the trials
of what must have felt like an endless journey to this “New World”.
34going into a wilderness surrounded by mountains, hills and thick forests with ravines and narrow deep valleys.
34but, this forest produced the finest of timber and the purest of water, a virgin soil when cleared and properly cultivated, and yielded bountiful crops.
34they selected their locations and then went to work using their instincts and inbred common sense, and soon built a shelter for the family and their animals.
34as soon as things were put into shape and crops planted, they would start to look for work in order to supply provisions they could not make, working for wealthy farmers who had such things as wheat for flour. They worked for perhaps a bushel of wheat for a days labor, often contracting to clear ground for 50¢ a day or in exchange a cow, brood sow, or a sheep.
They were emigrants our ancestors, unlike the emigrants of today, coming to this country, the “New World” intending to make a permanent home and becoming citizens.
34they did become Americans calling it home, raising their children and giving them all the benefits.
34without doubt succeeded far beyond their own expectations, they could see in the future there would be a change for the better for their souls and their spirits and learned to possess their selves in patience.
I can not help but feel that somehow this part of our heritage has been lost over time, but, that is progress.
They went into the wilderness not as Caesar entered into
the city with all the appliances of war, and conquered and wrote home,
“I came, I saw, I conquered”;
34they laid siege on the wilderness and after many years of toil and sacrifice, perseverance and deprivation, they can say as did Caesar, “We came, we saw, we conquered” and went silently into the night.
This is our legacy, these were our ancestors, we are lucky to inherit this kinship.
From the other side of the Atlantic to the shores of the “New World” they came, saw and conquered and we reap the rewards.
I went searching for an ancestor I can not find him still
He moved around from place to place must not have left a will
Could have married where a court house burned sure mended all his fences
Maybe he was also missed in the taking of the US census
He sure kept all his belongings packed this man who had no fame
And every once in a while he changed the spelling of his name
His parents were from overseas I’m sure were on a ships list
Of passengers to the USA maybe some how they got missed
I’ve wondered if anyone else is a searching for this man
I’d do almost anything to find more records if I can
I’m told he’s buried in a plot and with a gravestone blessed
But the weather took off engraving and vandals did the rest
He’s evidently married before the counties put down records
Haven’t found a family bible yet in spite of all my efforts
But now I’m all a flutter happy as can be
I found the piece that was missing I can complete my family tree
I finally found someone also searching to and fro
That knew gggg Grandpa Samuel was betrothed to Margaret Mustoe
“Climbing Down The Family Tree”
by: Eldon E. Johnson
By way of introduction, I am the 8th. generation of (2) Samuel Gay born 1699 died 1781, he was the first of the name to locate west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. He came to Orange County, Virginia where he purchased 324 acres of land from one William Berksley on Jan. 5, 1778 in what is now Augusta Co., Va.
(2) Samuel Gay, was one of the 12 captains appointed in 1742 for military purposes and appointed a member of the first court of Augusta Co., which was organized July 7, 1746. In 1747 he purchased land on the Calfpasture River in the Border Grant now Rockbridge Co., Virginia.
*William Gay, born 1725 married in 1757 in Augusta Co., Virginia, Margaret Walkup, who died in 1769. William died August 18, 1767.
William Gay and Margaret had a son William, born 1758 in Calfpasture Augusta County, Virginia; married Sept. 27, 1785 to Mary Craig who died ca1835. Children: William Jr., b. 1787 Augusta Co., Alexander, b. 1790 French Broad, North Carolina, Mary, b. Aug. 10, 1792 Knox Co., Tn. married July 8, 1816 to William Everett who died June 13, 1869, Richard b. 1793, Knox Co., Tn., Samuel, b. 1797, Blount Co.,Tn.
(3) Robert Gay, born 1729 married in 1772 Hannah Moore, settled in Augusta Co., Va about 1750. They lived on the farm which had been purchased by his father in 1747. He was a justice of the peace.
(3)Robert Gay’s 2nd. wife was Sarah Johnson. They had a daughter Mary, born ca1779 in Rockbridge Co., Va. married 1797, John Rhea, son of Archibald and Margaret (Campbell) Rhea.
(4) Samuel Gay, born 1774 died 1851, son of (3)Robert and Hannah (Moore) Gay married September 12, 1799, Margaret Catherine Mustoe, born January 16, 1782 died May 10, 1840, the daughter of Anthony and Dorthy (Silor) Mustoe. Samuel and Margaret lived and died near Warm Springs, Bath Co., Virginia.
We know more about Samuel Gay and Margaret (Mustoe) Gay through Baptismal certificates, written court records and entitlements, and family documentaries and recollections.
Direct bloodline and nameline is what has been included in this record, with the hopes that future generations will continue to add their information