The Wives of William Hayden

Cliff McCarthy, 2016
Updated 5 January 2018

There are many competing theories as to the identities of William Hayden’s wives. I have attempted to sort out the origins of some of these theories, giving the basis for them where possible.  Hopefully, this will serve to limit the circulation of “bad” information and, given the lack of documented proof, at least help generate a consensus around probabilities. I encourage readers to interact, comment, and dispute the evidence given here.

What is known: William Hayden was married at least twice and had twelve children in total.

Wife #1:

Back in 1978, Sister Mary Louise Donnelly first published Rapier, Hayden & Allied Families, which had this about William Hayden’s first wife:

“William Hayden with Charles Milly administered the estate of Peter Grays (Tst. Pro. 18B:54) on 4/12/1701. Peter Grays’ inventory was approved by William Hayden and John Barrow.

Mary, the widow of Robert Thompson (d 1697), m(2) Thomas Cissell. Their marriage was short lived and Thomas Cissell d. in 1701. In his will he states, “I doe bequeath all my lands to the Child my wife goeth withall to the said Child and the Heirs of its body lawfully begotten and in case it should happen to dye without Heirs I leave and bequeath One hundred acres, being that part whereon I have built and settled Secured from that William Heydon is to have, I say I bequeath it to my Daughter in Law called Betty …” Betty was also to receive one cow when she became sixteen or married. (Will 11:68-70)

From these records the first wife of William Hayden might have been a Grays or a deceased Thompson (in 1701). By m(1) William Hayden had the following children: Charles Hayden; Grace Hayden m Matthew Herbert; Thomasin Hayden m. Luke Cissell; William Hayden b. c.1700″

From these flimsy possibilities, the theories of “Elizabeth Grays” or “Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Thompson” were born. Neither holds much weight and, in fact, Sister Donnelly, in her follow-up work Colonial Settlers in St. Clements Bay, explores the life of this Elizabeth “Betty” Thompson, daughter of Robert & Mary (French) Thompson, and makes no mention of a marriage to William Hayden. (This Elizabeth Thompson does marry four times, and once to a William Roach, which comes into play below.) Yet, Betty Thompson proliferated in the environment of the newly-invented internet.

In 1984, Mrs. Maurice Ignatius Mattingly in “Mattingly Geneaology” posited that William Hayden’s first wife was Mary (Gray) Thompson, widow of Robert Thompson, and she was the mother of Hayden’s first four children. This theory, too, seems unlikely. Other researchers believe the widow Mary Thompson was not a Grays, but a French.

In 1985, Hayden researcher Marion Hayden wrote what was the standard thinking at the time about Wife #1: William Hayden, son of Francis & Thomasine Heydon married “Elizabeth ?” and had four children (Charles, William, Grace, and Thomasine). In a footnote, he added this about “Elizabeth ?”: “Letter from Mrs. George Moore of Glendale, Maryland indicates her name was Thomas or Thompson; the last seems most probable,” with no further explanation of where those surnames came from.  Why Elizabeth? And why Thomas? Who was Mrs. Moore?

In 1991, Sharon Doliante published Maryland and Virginia Colonials in which she stated:

“William Heydon, b. 1674 [Md. Hist. Mag., Vol. 23, p. 207]. in Md.; d. testate, Mar., 1734, St. Mary’s Co., Md; m. (1) _______ (?Thomas) ….William leased for 5 years, from Thomas & Mary Davis, & from William & Grace Arthur, “which Mary & Grace are co-heirs of Thomas Thomas”

and she goes on to describe the bounds of the land known as “Small Hope.” Since “Small Hope” came into William Hayden’s possession, it reinforced a possible connection to the Thomas family. More proof is needed, however, I believe this remains the strongest possibility for wife #1.

Wife #2

Since William Hayden left a will naming his wife, we know that his widow was “Elizabeth” — but what was her surname? [for William Hayden’s Will]  It is also clear from his will that his first four children (Charles, William, Grace, and Thomasine) were distinct from his eight other children (Francis, Susanna, James, George, John, Clement, Richard, and Elizabeth). He leaves bequests to the former, but names the latter only in case his widow should remarry. It implies that his widow would provide for the latter eight children upon her death — which is exactly what happened. In her will Elizabeth names all of her children except Elizabeth, who may have been deceased, plus she names Joseph Clark, who might have been daughter Elizabeth’s husband. [for Elizabeth Hayden’s Will]

Sharon Doliante speculates in Maryland and Virginia Colonials that Wife #2 was Elizabeth (?Clement), but no rationale is given for this.

Could the above Elizabeth Thompson, daughter of Robert & Mary (French) Thompson, rejected as William’s first wife, be, in fact, his second wife? Not likely, since Thomas Cissell, whose will sparked the speculation, died in 1701 and William’s first wife was probably still alive at that point. Plus, Sister Donnelly’s research indicates that Elizabeth Thompson married first William Roach, secondly, Henry Nickols; thirdly, Robert Salmond; and finally, Thomas Boult. Ironically, the one person it seems she didn’t marry was William Hayden.

Wife #3

Into this mess comes Sister Donnelly, again, in her 1996 book, Colonial Settlers, St. Clement’s Bay, 16341780, in which she posits the theory that William Hayden was married three times: first to an Elizabeth Thomas or Thompson, second to Anna (Snowden) Rosewell, and thirdly to Elizabeth Roach. The addition of a marriage to Anna (Snowden) Rosewell is based on the fact that William Hayden wound up owning a parcel of land called “Clarken” which had been surveyed for William Rosewell. When William Rosewell died, it devolved to his wife, Anna (Snowden) Rosewell, who, Donnelly believes, then married William Hayden as his second wife. Donnelly goes on to propose that Anna died shortly after giving birth to their only daughter, Thomasine Hayden. William Hayden then married for a third time to Elizabeth Roach, daughter of William Roach and Mary Neale.

Some researchers point out that Anna (Snowden) Rosewell was still being referred to as “Rosewell” as late as May 1702 and that she should have been remarried by then, if this theory is true. But not necessarily. The one child ascribed to this union, Thomasine Hayden, could easily have been born between 1702-1707.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to add to this discussion by leaving a Comment below.



  • Doliante, Sharon J., Maryland and Virginia Colonials: Genealogies of Some Colonial Families, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., based on the work of Martha Woodruff Hiden, “The Hiden Family”, in Genealogies of Virginia Families, Vol. II.
  • Donnelly, Mary Louise, Colonial Settlers St. Clement’s Bay,  (P.O. Box 97, Ennis, TX, 1995).
  • Donnelly, Sister Mary Louise, Rapier, Hayden, and Allied Families of Colonial Maryland and Kentucky.
  • “Early Colonial Settlers of Southern Maryland and Virginia’s Northern Neck Counties,” website:, accessed 5 January 2018.
  • Notes compiled by Marion M. Hayden of Hockessin, DE and in the possession of the author, 1986.

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