Halsey Arms
Halsey Arms


Halsey Family History


I grew up outside of Washington, DC, but spent many of my boyhood summers in the mountains of North Carolina on the farm of my Halsey relatives. I created these pages to present the family history of my mother's lines. A cousin, Rufus Clinton Halsey, did quite extensive research and published a two volume book on the Halsey descendants of the original immigrant, Thomas Halsey Sr. Much of the Halsey information is from his book. I have filled in a few details with on-line research in census records, Social Security Death Indexes and the like, and have imported data from several on-line family trees. Pictures of the original Halsey house (see Thomas Halsey Sr's page) are from Bob Halsey's website.

Other lines covered include ROBBINS, BISHOP, BLEVINS, BONHAM, LUNDY, and WEISS. What little information I have on the Robbins line comes primarily from census records and a letter written to my mother from her late aunt.


Before the Immigration

The Halsey family has been mentioned in records as the Lords of the Manor on Tanesley, Cornwall, England as early as 1189CE. According to Cussant, the historian of Hertfordshire, a branch of the Halsey family settled at Great Gaddesden in 1458 and later became lessees of the Rectory of Gaddesden until March 12, 1545. When Henry VIII dissolved the religious houses, he bestowed the estate upon William Halsey. It was here, in the old mansion known as the Golden Parsonage that Thomas Halsey, our immigrant, was born in 1591. The Golden Parsonage was situated a short distance from the river Gadde in Hertfordshire, England, about 28 miles north of London. The present heir and occupant of the property, Thomas Frederic K Halsey, M.P., is a descendant of the elder brother of immigrant Thomas Halsey. The great grandfather of the present owner tore down the original structure in 1773 after a fire and erected Gaddesden Place, the present residence. Gaddesden Place was designed by James Wyatt. About 3000 acres remain of the original 5000 acre grant.

A Halsey Geneology compiled by Jacob Lafayette Halsey and Edmund Drake Halsey was printed in 1895 at the Jerseyman Office in Morristown, New Jersey. It contained a color picture of the Halsey Coat of Arms granted to two brothers of Thomas Halsey in 1633. The motto reads,"Nescit Vox Missa Reverte". The motto translates as "When a word is once spoken it cannot be recalled". Reportedly, in a letter dated "Great Gaddesden, Hertfordshire, March 23 1885", adressed to Jacob L. Halsey, Vice President of the Manhattan Life Insurance Company, New York, Thomas Frederick Halsey acknowledges the clear and undoubted right of the desendants of Thomas Halsey, born at Great Gaddesden, to bear the Halsey Arms.

Thomas Halsey Sr - the immigrant

Mostly from


Thomas was, in 1637, a resident of Kempston, Bedfordshire, England. In the Ship-Money Papers of 1637-1639 he was assessed for one pound, five shillings, and nine pence.

Among the documents in the custody of the Clerk of Courts at Salem, MA is a copy of records showing the divisions of land of Lynn, MA in 1638. Thomas Halsey received 100 acres. It is evident, therefore, that Thomas came over after April 1638 and before the end of that year. He was a resident of Lynn during 1639 and most of 1640.

A number of colonists of Lynn had resolved to leave and to settle in another place and on 10 March 1639, Edward Howell with others contracted for transport to the future Southampton, Long island. Thomas was not, at the beginning, one of the adventurers in this project, but upon acceptance by the rest of the party and contribution of eighty pounds, he was included as one of them. The final agreement to settle Southampton was dated at Lynn, 17 April 1640, and the colonists arrived 13 December 1640, the settlers gave the local indians 16 coats and 60 bushels of corn for the land.

An action was brought against him by William Rogers, 20 October 1650, which was postponed to, 25 October 1650, the case was to be tried at the house of Richard Barrett. Rogers won damages of five pounds This was purely a civil case and Thomas lost no prestige from it in the eyes of his fellow townsmen, for on, 5 November 1652, he was chosen with others to act as a committee to partition the meadows of the town. In 1653 he was a member of a squadron to take care of whales cast upon the beach.

On 30 May 1654, the town ordered Thomas Halsey and Henry Pierson to layout land granted to Thomas Vail in order to make up the latter's fifty pound allotment; Vail was to satisfy them 'for the paines.' Thomas got into difficulties with the court again, 3 June 1654, when he was fined five shillings for his 'contemptious cariage unto ye Court, at his departure.' The Rev. Robert Fordham was plaintiff in an action of trespass against Thomas Halsey on, 22 December 1654, the jury included Mr. Odell, Thomas Sayre, a distant cousin of his wife, John Howell, Edward Howell, William Rogers and Christopher Foster, among others. The jury found for the plaintiff for the tresspass in taking up the horse illegally, two shillings damage with increase of court charges. And the Jury 'meddle not with determining whose the horse is.' Thomas appealed to Hartford and was bound in the sum of forty pounds to prosecute there.

It appears from the records that Thomas Halsey was independent, impatient of courts and somewhat plain spoken in mind. The same motive which sent him from England, doubtless, made him suspect the jurisprudence of his day. Nevertheless, when his somewhat belligerent forwardness got him into trouble with his fellow townsmen in general, he backtracked. Thus, on 23 October 1655, and after a disagreement with the town as to the condition of his closes (neighbors) and where his cattle should be maintained, he apologized and paid the townsmen for their troubles in returning his cattle to closure.

He exchanged lands with Mr. Josiah Stansborough on 25 February 1657; was one of a committee which in May 1661 determined the town bounds between Southampton and Easthampton; and in September 1663 he was ordered, with four others, to collect all monies due the town, and to give proper receipts therefore. In the following November he was placed on a committee to perfect the title of the town of Southampton to its lands. He climaxed his civic duties by serving as deputy to the General Court at Hartford, Conn on 25 April 1664. One of his last services was to become a patentee of the town under the Gov. Andros patent on 1 November 1667.


Halsey NC/VA Migration


William Halsey, Jr., born March 23, 1760, at Columbia, New Jersey. He married Rachel COBB of Schooley, New Jersey, on November 3, 1780. They were married by Reverend Joseph Gravies at the Presbyterian Church.

William enlisted in Washington's Continental Army on May 9, 1778, and joined on June 5, 1778, at Mount Holly, New Jersey. He served under Captain Emily and was commandeered by General Dayton. His revolutionary service was considerable, fighting in the battles of Brandywine, BunkerHill, Ash Swamp, and Cowpens. He was one of General Washington's personal guards at Morristown, New Jersey. He is listed in the DAR Patriot Index.

William and Rachel moved to North Carolina soon after his service in the American Revolution. Records indicate that he had land holding problems which many Colonists were having at that time in Northern New Jersey. It is believed that his contacts with revolutionary soldiers from the North Carolina area may have influenced him to move to North Carolina. Colonial ownership was dependable in this area of North Carolina. William's brother John moved from New Jersey to Vermont, perhaps for the same reason that William moved to Alleghany County, North Carolina. -- Rufus Clinton Halsey

Source: Thomas Halsey and His Descendants

(biographical sketch from The Heritage of Ashe County, North Carolina).

Moses Halsey also migrated to the area about this time. He came from Suffolk County, NY to Mouth-of-Wilson, Grayson County, VA after the Revolutionary war. He shared a common great-grandfather with William, and by family tradition served with him. I have not found documentary evidence of this at this time, but I am looking. - THS