How Many Sons Did John Clay (the immigrant) Have?

Under this website menu item at left labeled Notable Clays Famous & Infamous the article John Clay (c1595-c1655?) says,

“—The four sons assigned to John are based on a list of Clays sent to Mary Rogers Clay by the Rev. Phillip Southall of Amelia, who appears to have done much of the Virginia research towards Mrs. Clay’s genealogy. She misunderstood that Mr. Southall had merely sent her a list of early Virginia Clays, thinking he had furnished a list of the sons of the Immigrant. After the publication of Mrs. Clay’s genealogy, Mr. Southall published a disclaimer in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Only William and Charles can be proven to be sons of John. Mr. Boddie’s placement of John Clay of Isle of Wight County as a son was first challenged by Minnie Gathright Cook. Mrs. Cook was an extremely fine genealogist who could and did mount formidable attacks against anyone who published what she considered to be genealogical nonsense. In a letter to James Branch Cabell in 1951, Mrs. Cook said that Mr. Boddie “now accepts my version.”

Thus, the evidence provides only two sons, one “William” from (probably) first wife Ann, who married Emlin (???) and from wills, no children survived.

“That Elizabeth was the mother of Charles Clay is proven by a deed of gift of two ewe lambs from Captain Wall to his “sonne in law Charles Clay,” 3 October 1660. “

There was no mention of a second son in that document. (“sonne in law” at that time referenced a legal, not biological relationship, Wall was married to the widow Elizabeth (???) Clay. Charles would be his step-son.)

William, born after 1624 (the date of the muster) was dead before 22 Oct 1663 when his will was probated. The reason he wasn’t mentioned in Capt Wall’s will was likely because he wasn’t Elizabeth’s child.

We suspect that something was taken from one of the earlier versions, and the four sons advocates haven’t seen the later rebuttals. Also, on this line. John Clay the immigrant was not “Captain.”

Regardless of whether there could have been other sons, and there are old studies that put some of these males as “grandsons”, the fact is that there is no evidence of any progeny. However, stay tuned because our recent Y-DNA discoveries are linking several testers to John Clay the immigrant and some of his descendants, which may reveal other sons! Please read Calling All Clay Men!!!

As to Charles, he married Hannah Wilson. That marriage produced at least seven children, none of whom married a Green. That’s a different generation. 

Their son Henry (1672-1760) married Mary Mitchell, three of their children married into the Green family, Henry married Lucy, Amey married William, and Charles married Martha.