Peter Hayes & Martha Sledge

Arnold Edmund Hayes, writing in Historical Southern Families, Vol. 15 claimed that Peter Hays of Urahaw was the same person as Peter Hays the son of Peter of Blackwater, who married Martha Sledge.1  This claim is easily disproved.  They were two different men named Peter Hays. The Peter Hays who married Martha Sledge and died leaving a will in Halifax County in 1760 actually remained in Virginia for most of his life.  He was not the same person as Peter Hayes of Chowan and Bertie County, North Carolina.

Peter Hay(s) married Martha Sledge of Surry County sometime between 3 November 1725 when the will of Charles Sledge called his daughter Martha Sledge and 8 January 1726/7 when his widow Mary Sledge’s will called her Martha Hay and made her son-in-law Peter Hay executor.2  The significance of this is twofold: first, it places Peter Hay in Surry County in the late 1720s and second, it means his children were born no earlier than about 1727.

On 4 January 1731 “Peter Hay of Surry County” bought 100 acres on the north side of the Three Creeks in Isle of Wight County from James Atkinson, being a 1725 patent to Richard Atkinson, located in what is now the westernmost part of Southampton County. 3  Seventeen years later on 20 September 1748 Peter Hay was issued a patent for 130 acres adjoining his own land on the north side of Three Creeks.4  The area became Southampton County in 1749.

Clearly this is not the same Peter Hays “of Bertie County” who was witnessing deeds in Bertie County in 1728 and who bought land on Cashy Swamp in 1733 and who continuously appears in Bertie records until his 1761 will.

Nor could a man marrying in Surry County, Virginia about 1726 be the same person listed on a militia roster with an adult son in 1720 Chowan Precinct, North Carolina.

In the meantime his brother-in-law Henry Ivey, who had married Rebecca Sledge, also located nearby on Three Creeks.  The two brothers-in-law witnessed a deed together in Isle of Wight County on 22 September 1743 [Isle of Wight County Deed Book 6, page 367.]  (For more on Henry Ivey see my Ivey Family paper here and look for Henry Ivey on page 11.)

On 6 March 1749/50 Peter Hays and Martha Hays “of Southampton County” sold 100 acres of his 230-acre tract on the north side of Three Creeks and the Great Swamp to Henry Ivey Jr. [Southampton County Deed Book 1, page 78.]

Four years later on 13 March 1754 Peter Hay (sic) “of the parish of Nottoway” and Southampton County sold his remaining 130 acres to Francis Hilliard, described as including the 1748 patent granted to Peter Hay [Southampton County Deed Book 2, page 14.]  This is significant, for Francis Hilliard was the husband of the Peter’s daughter Winny Hilliard mentioned in the 1760 will of Peter Hays of Halifax County, North Carolina.   On 10 November 1762 “Francis Hilliard and Winny his wife of the county of Southampton” sold the 130 acres on the north side of the Three Creeks to Edward Reese, describing it as partly a patent to “Peter Hays late of said county”.  [Southampton County Deed Book 3, page 181.]  Henry Ivey and John Ivey witnessed the deed, which was proved in court by Francis and WInny.

The point of this is that Peter Hays lived on the Three Creeks land continuously from 1731 until 1754, and perhaps for a few years thereafter until making his will in Halifax County, North Carolina in 1760.   He could not possibly be the same person as the Peter Hays living continuously in the Cashy Swamp area of Bertie from 1728 until 1761.  (Nor could they be father and son for obvious reasons.)

Peter Hay wrote his will in Halifax County Virginia on 3 August 1760, which was proved at the March court 1761. 5  He gave five shillings each to his son Charles Hays, and five shillings each to seven daughters named Rebecca Emry (Emory), Edy Philips, Winny Hilliard, Selve Hays, Milly Hays, Wille Hays, and Hannah (no surname given). His wife Martha was executor, receiving the remainder of the estate, and the will was witnessed by Ruben Hays, among others.   There is no record of Peter Hays buying or patenting land in Halifax, and the will makes no mention of land. Indeed, there is no other record of Peter Hay(s) in Halifax County.

Mr. Hayes assumed that there were four older children (William, John, Thomas, Reuben) who were ignored by the will, though there is no evidence at all that there were other children.  The first three were sons of Peter of Urahaw.

The son Charles Hayes does not appear in Halifax records (nor in Southampton records.)  The identity of Reuben Hayes is unknown, as he does not appear in Halifax records.  (He is not likely to be a son of Peter Hays, as his witness to the deed would deprive him of any claim on the residual estate.)


  1. “Hayes – Hays of Virginia and North Carolina” by Arthur Edmund Hayes, Historical Southern Families, Volume 15, pages 174-5. []
  2. Surry County Deeds & Wills 7, page 623 and page 826, respectively. []
  3. Isle of Wight County Deed Book 4, page 146. []
  4. Virginia Patent Book 28, page 422. []
  5. Halifax County, NC, Will Book 1, page 24. []