Select Hayes Surname Genealogy

Hayes in England arose as a locational surname, associated with the place-name Hayes in Kent, Middlesex, Devon, Dorset, or Worcestershire.  Hayes here could be the plural of hay meaning "enclosure;" or it could come from hege, "hedge;" or from haes, "brushwood" or "underwood."  But the English Hayes numbers seem to be less overall than those that have come from Scotland and Ireland.

The Hayes name had different origins there.  In Scotland the name came from the Normans and is Hay there but often Hayes on its travels.  In Ireland Hayes was generally an anglicization of the Gaelic O'hAodha. Hayes may also be Jewish, from the Yiddish khaye meaning "life."

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EnglandHayes in various spellings Hayes, Heyes, Heys, Hays and Hay - are to be found in England.

These are names primarily of northern England.  One Lancashire family history of Hayes traces itself back to a William Hey, born in Leigh in 1634.  The name became Heyes and then Hayes in the early 1700's. 

The Hayes name has in fact been strongest in Lancashire, although this may reflect Irish immigration.  Hay by contrast has been stronger in the border counties, reflecting probably a spillover from Scotland.

ScotlandIn Scotland the name Hay has Norman roots, being a direct translation of the Norman de la Haye - la Haye ("the hedge") being the name of several towns in Normandy.  The legendary origin of the Hays dates back to the Viking invasions of the 10th century, but has little basis in fact.  The first Hay in Scotland was in fact the Norman William II de la Haye in the 12th century.  Clan Hay descends from him.  Gilbert de Haye joined Robert the Bruce in the Scottish War of Independence and he was rewarded with the lands of Slain in Aberdeenshire.

The northeast of Scotland, around Aberdeenshire, has remained Hay territory.   Hays were also to be found in Perthshire, East Lothian, and along the Scottish borders.  The Hays of Yester in East Lothian date from the 1350s.  John Hay, born in Peeblesshire around 1450, was the forebear of the Hays who became Lord Tweeddale.  John Hay, the first of Tweeddale, was Lord Chancellor of Scotland from 1692 to 1696.  Later Hays of this line commanded troops in the British army from the Penninsular War to the Crimean War. 

Ireland.  Hayes is an anglicization of a common Gaelic surname O'hAodha, meaning descendant of Aodh ("fire"), although in SW Cork O'hAodha became O'Hea and in Ulster Hughes.  The Hayes name has been mainly associated with the Dalcassian sept of Thomond to be found in Limerick and Tipperary.  From this area in the 19th century came the opera singer Catherine Hayes and the painters Edward Hayes and Michael Angelo Hayes.

Hayes was noted on a public record in county Wexford as early as 1182.  Here the surname was of Norman origin (de la Haye), having been taken to Ireland by the Anglo-Normans.  Hay was a principal name in Wexford at the time of the 1659 census.

.  The ancestry of American President Rutherford B. Hayes began with his Scottish ancestor George Hayes who came to Windsor, Connecticut in 1680.  Hayes's grandfather Rutherford left his New Haven home during the Revolutionary War for the relative peace of Vermont.  His son, another Rutherford, was a Vermont storekeeper who took his family to Ohio in 1817.  But he died there ten weeks before the birth of his son Rutherford Hayes the future President, in 1822.  Another branch of this family ended up later in Wisconsin.
Two other Hayes arrived in New England during the 17th century - Thomas who came to Connecticut in 1645 and whose descendants are to be found in New Jersey and John who came to New Hampshire in 1680 and was the forebear of a large New England family.

The English Quaker Henry Hayes came to Pennsylvania in 1705 and accepted a land grant from William Penn in Chester county.  Mordecai Hayes' home at Embreeville, built in 1774, remains with the Hayes family. Captain Joseph Hayes led a branch of this family to Indiana in the early 1800's (he was one of the first to purchase land and settle there).  Henry's descendants celebrated the bicentenntial of his arrival in 1905 and the tricentennial in 2005.

Irish.  The largest number of Hayes in America, however, have come from Ireland.  Notable among these Hayes have been:
  • Tom Hayes from county Cork who arrived in San Francisco in 1849 and was one of its early civic developers.  In 1861 Tom Hayes constructed the first outdoor recreational park, Hayes Park.  Hayes Valley and Hayes Street are named after him.  He was the original franchisee of the Market Street Railway.
  • Daniel and Mary Hayes from Kerry who came to New York in 1864.  Their son Patrick was Archbishop of New York from 1919 until his death in 1938.  He was born in the Five Points section of Manhattan and, in his own words, "was born very humble and, I may say, of poor people."
  • and another Hayes family, this time from Tipperary, who had come to New York in the 1880's.  Their son Johnny won the marathon race at the 1908 Olympics in London.  His Olympic victory undoubtedly contributed to the early growth of long-distance running and marathoning in the United States.  
The grande dame of American theater, Helen Hayes, had Irish roots.  Her maternal grandparents emigrated from Ireland at the time of the potato famine.  Her mother was a great-neice of Irish singer Catherine Hayes.

Canada.   Thomas Hayes, a Protestant from county Armagh, came to Simcoe county in Ontario with his wife in 1830.  Thomas started an Orange Lodge on his property in 1845.  He went on to live to the grand age of a hundred, dying in 1882.  

Four Hayes brothers and their Catholic families were said to have arrived in Quebec from Ireland at the time of the famine and settled in the Gatineau valley.  Michael and Ellen Hayes were pioneers in Pontiac county.  Some of these Hayes moved onto Saskatchewan in the early 1900's.

Australia.  Sir Henry Hayes, a native of Cork, had been made sheriff of the city and knighted in 1790.  But ten years later he was a convicted felon transported to Australia.   There his erratic personality would get him into trouble with authorities.  One judge commented:

"The first person I tried was Sir Henry Browne Hayes for speaking insolently of Colonel Foveaux and endeavouring to raise a riot.  I reprimanded and discharged him.  Since which he has sent me two watermelons every week of uncommon size and goodness.  He is a gentlemanly man in his manners, though odd in his dress and appearance.  He has made a vow never to cut the hair on his upper lip, which, is very long and gives him a very formidable and grotesque appearance."

He finally was able to receive a pardon and return back to Ireland for the last twenty years of his life.

Another Irish convict, Michael Hayes from Wexford, was transported for his participation in the 1798 rebellion.  He later prospered as a trader in Sydney.  His brother was a representative of the Irish Catholic Association in Rome and he championed the Catholic cause in Australia.  However, he was found drowned off the Market Wharf in Sydney in 1825.

William Hayes was a child convict from England, transported to Tasmania in 1843 when just twelve.   His son Edmund, who started out at an orphanage, became one of the pioneer settlers in the Upper Natone district of Tasmania.

Select Hayes Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Hayes Names

John Hay of Tweeddale was Lord Chancellor of Scotland from 1692 to 1696.
Catherine Hayes was a 19th century opera soprano, the first Irish-born to achieve international acclaim.
Rutherford Hayes was the 19th President of the United States, taking office in 1877.
Helen Hayes was an American actress whose long career garnered her the nickname of "first Lady of the American theater."
Woody Hayes was a long-serving American college footbal coach, best known for his time with the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Gabby Hayes was an American screen actor, best known for his appearance in Westerns.

Select Hayes Today
  • 43,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 73,000 in America (most numerous in California) 
  • 46,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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