Ancestral Family Topic 3696

 3696   John Clay (c.1587-)
Pedigree Chart 08

John Clay, in his own words
If he could speak to us today, John Clay might describe his life as follows.

I arrived in the Colony of Virginia in February 1613/4 on the Treasurer and the 21 January 1624/5 Muster identified my wife as Ann, who arrived on the Ann in August 1623.  Although I owned land on the north side of the James, we settled near present-day Hopewell where I owned 2,200 acres.
The almost complete loss of court records for Charles City and Henrico counties makes positively identifying my family impossible. Ann and I were certainly the parents of William Clay, and maybe John Clay of Surry County. I married second Elizabeth and our only known child was Charles.
I died before December 1655 when my son William sold some land that had belonged to “John Clay, dec’d.”  Good women being scarce, Elizabeth was successively the wife of John Wall and John Tate.

Living with John and Ann at the time of the Muster was a servant, William Nichols, aged 26, who came on the Dutie in May 1619.
It is a tradition that John was captain of 50 musketeers, captained by Samuel Argall, who were on the Treasurer. These musketeers were sent to protect the Jamestown settlers. Gen. Green Clay called John Clay “the Grenadier.”
Some have noted that Ann came to Virginia 10 years after her husband. Life was very difficult in America then and some speculate that John married in England and wanted to establish himself in the new Colony before sending for his wife. It is more likely he did not marry Ann until about 1624, after she arrived in Virginia.

Clay’s land grant in Charles City County
In 1635 John Clay obtained a patent to 1,200 acres in Charles City County, south of the James River, beginning at lands granted Francis Hooke, up to the head of Wards Creek. One hundred acres were allotted him as “being an old planter” and the other 11 hundred acres were for the importation of 22 individuals who arrived on the West This land is now in Prince George County near present-day Hopewell. John owned also an adjacent 1,000-acre tract, called “Clay’s Clossett,” that he and John Frame purchased from Capt. Francis Hooke. Other patents referred to land that John Clay owned on the north side of the James River near Westover,  and deeds of 1632 mention land John Clay and John Davis had at Westover. 
In 1657 Howell Price submitted the names 79 individuals, including John Clay, when he proved his right to 3,950 acres. 

Elizabeth, the widow
In Oct. 1660 John Wall, by then the husband of John’s widow Elizabeth, deeded two ewes to his “sonne in Law [stepson]” Charles Clay.  Wall, a long-time Clay neighbor, patented 1,791 acres next to John Clay in Sept. 1629.  Wall died before 4 Feb. 1664/5, when his widow presented his will and by Feb. 1665/6, Charles City records mention John Tate “who married the relict of Capt. Jno. Wall.”  Elizabeth was dead by 1686.

Was John the son of another John Clay?
Some have concluded that John Clay likely did not live into his seventies but that he had a son named John, born perhaps in England, and a son named William. Records once called John’s son William Clay, “the younger” suggesting the presence of this posited uncle.

Descendants of John Clay
Information about the children of John Clay, their descendants, and allied families previously found at is now available as Southside Virginia Genealogies. Learn more 
Names found in this topic include the following.
 William Clay (c.1634-1663),  
William Bayley,  
John Didball,  Joseph Harwood,  
Emlyn (—) Clay,  Anthony Wyatt,  
 Charles Clay I (c.1635-1686),  
 John Clay (-1675),  
Thomas Guyer,  
Mary (—) Clay,  
John Clay,  Roger Archer,  
Thomas Clay,  Elizabeth (—) Clay,  John Sugar,  
William Clay,  Judith (—) Clay,  Judith Corker,  Capt. William Corker,  
Elizabeth Clay,  

This family topic includes the following notable individuals.
Legislators - colonial and state
Capt. William Corker - Virginia  

Selected sources
Burrell, Ruth Clay. “Clay Research.” Clay Family Quarterly. Houston: Clay Family Association. 1:68-73, 102-104 (1975). • Cursory outline of family of John Clay.
Clay Family Association. Clay Family Quarterly. Houston: Clay Family Association. 1:9, 21, 32, 51A, 63A (1975). • A collection of information on the descendants of John Clay, including the family Bibles of Jeremiah Walker Clay and his son Johnson Clay.
Clay, Mary Rogers. The Clay Family. Louisville, KY: The Filson Club. 1899. • Early and often quoted depiction of the family of John Clay.
Dorman, John Frederick. Adventurers of Purse and Person Virginia 1607-1624/5, Fourth Edition. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. 2004. Volume One, pages 643-698. • Family of John Clay, including Charles Clay, Charles Clay, and James Clay.

This topic, which represents .07% of all the family history material at, includes 37 citations and the names of 32 individuals.
Virginians - The Family History of John W. Pritchett
Copyright © 2001-2006, John W. Pritchett. All rights reserved.
Civil War Soldiers from Brunswick County, Virginia 
  • 1,140 family histories
  • 744 pages
  • 35,000-name index
  • Attractively bound
  • Military histories
  • Index of church cemeteries
  • Confederate veterans photo
  • More...