Clays of Barbados

Barbados is a southeastern Caribbean Island 21 miles long by 14 miles wide and was first settled by the British in 1625.

In the period 1640–1660, the West Indies attracted over two-thirds of the total number of English emigrants to the Americas. By 1650, there were 44,000 settlers in the West Indies, as compared to 12,000 on the Chesapeake and 23,000 in New England. Most English arrivals were indentured. After five years of labour, they were given “freedom dues” of about £10, usually in goods. (Before the mid-1630s, they also received 5–10 acres of land, but after that time the island filled and there was no more free land.) First, a tobacco producer, but then sugar after tobacco prices fell in the 1630s, as Chesapeake production expanded. – Wikipedia

A Timeline of Early Clays of Barbados:

From available records 1626 to 1715

by John S Clay and Joe Parker


The first English settlers arrived in Barbados. These 80 settlers, including at least 10 “indentured labourers,” arrived aboard the vessel “William and John.”


Richard Clay married Jane Lewis in Christ Church. This event was recorded on the first page of the Parish Registers of Barbados. This couple were probably both “Early Settlers.”


Black African slaves began to arrive in Barbados. Prior to this, indentured white European “labourers” had been the primary work force. Following a 5-7 year indenture, labourers were given £10, and/or a plot of land, this continued until there was no more unoccupied land on the island, about 1640-1650.


Francis Clay was buried in St. Michael’s on the 22nd of August. His age was not recorded and there was no record of the baptism or marriage in Barbados, he may have been an “Early Settler.’


Alice Clay, who may have been the widow of Francis [above] married William Klendamel in the Parish of Christ Church. There was no record of the baptism of an Alice Clay on the island. This couple had 5 children baptised on Barbados: Elizabeth in 1665, Mary in 1667, Rachel in 1669, Leah in 1672 and Thomas in in 1674. They were all baptised in Christ Church. There were several Klendamel families in Barbados at this time; it is most likely that they were all “Early Settlers.”


A Mary Clay married William Blake in St. Michael’s.


A Timothy Clay set sail from London, bound for Barbados on the 7th of April. He was the only Clay to be found on any passenger list from England to Barbados over the whole period [1627 – 1750].


A Stephen Clay married Alice Widdows on the 28th of May, in the parish of St. Michael’s.


Mary Clay, a child, was buried in St. Michael’s. Her parentage was not recorded.


Mathew Clay, the servant of Justice Howells, was buried in December; in St. Michael’s. His age was not recorded.


Martha Clay was buried in the parish of St. Michael’s. Anne Clay married Nath’l Eldred in the parish of St. Michael’s on Dec 5th. In the 1680 census, Nathaniel Eldred and his wife declared that they had no children, 1 paid Servant, and 2 slaves.


Three Clays: Ralph, Benjamin, and Thomas, were recorded on 3 different “Muster Rolls” of the Barbados Militia — no ages were given. Note: All residents of the island aged between 16 and 65 were required to serve in the Militia at this time.

Also In this year there was a census of all property owners on the island. This census was completed before April 1st. Included in this census of the Parish of St. Michael’s were Stephen Clay & Wife, with 1 [unnamed] child — the family had no paid servants, but did own 2 slaves. This was the only Clay family recorded in this census. Note: There were a total of at least 11 Clays of various ages resident on the island of Barbados at this time [1680].


The baptism of Alice, daughter of Stephen and Alice was registered in St. Michael’s on the 19th of July. Her year of birth was also recorded as 1681. Note: Stephen and Alice clearly had an existing child at the beginning of 1680 [see above]. However, no baptism of any child of this couple during their previous 8 years of marriage could be discovered before Alice was born [above].


Ralph Clay married Ruth Quail in St. Michael’s. Ralph died 3 years later. Ruth did not remarry and died in 1707.


Timothy Clay married Bridget Pomroy in St. Michael’s.


Buried Cap Stephen Clay. Note: Throughout the parish registers, ships’ captains were prefixed with Cap’t so it is most likely that this Stephen Clay was the Captain of a Militia. These were very prestigious appointments and generally reserved for plantation owners.


An Eliza Clay married Thomas Crute in St Michael’s.


On the 28th of March at St Michael’s Church of England “Alice ye daughter of Capt Jonas & Mrs Sarah Clay, Born (& Baptism) ye same day.”


A Mary Clay married John Sanson in St. Michael’s. 


A Hannah Clay married Elkanah Tilson and their child, Mary was baptised in 1711. Elkanah died in 1712.


Timothy Clay of St. Michael married Lucretia Teague.


In this year there was a census of the white population of Barbados. This census did not record servants’ or slave ownership. Note: 4 Clays were recorded: 

  • Alice Clay – Spinster – aged 16.
  • Jane Clay – Unmarried – aged 26.
  • Jane Clay – aged 47, [probably widowed] – with 2 sons aged 16, and 10 . . . and 1 daughter, aged 5.
  • Thomas Clay – aged 34, and 1 woman aged 40 – with 2 sons aged 8 and 6 . . . and 1 daughter aged 12.

Note: Thomas Clay married  Margaret Morgan, widow, in December of this year [1715].


Benjamin Clay, Cordwainer, was buried in May in St. Michael’s. George Clay, a child, was buried.


Benjamin Clay, a child, was buried.


  • The Parish Registers for the island, commencing in 1643, were very well kept, and well preserved.
  • The registers of the Parishes of St. Michael’s and Christ Church were kept in different formats.
  • From these records, it is possible to suggest which Clays were likely to have been amongst the very early settlers on the Island.
    • Almost certainly Richard Clay [mar. 1643]
    • Francis Clay [bur. 1657]
    • Alice Clay [mar. 1659]
    • and possibly Mary Clay [mar. 1666]
  • There were constant 17th/18th-century migrations from Barbados to the American colonies which included some Clays.
  • In a 1736 map and the below 1750 map of Barbados, there was shown a Clay plantation (circled in red), in the Parish of St. Michael’s, about 4 miles north of Bridgetown. How long this plantation had existed is not known, and the name of the Clay that owned it is yet to be discovered, but it was likely to have been a descendant of Cap Stephen [Steven] Clay, who owned property in 1680 and appeared to have been “well heeled” by the time of his death in 1697.
  • Jonas Clay (c. 1620 England? – c. 1663 Maine)–9x great-grandfather of the author and CFS member John Stewart Clay, was 1st recorded in Wenham, MA, in 1643. He married Mary Batson (c. 1632 Derby, England – c. 1673 Maine or Barbados) at Sagamore Creek, York, Maine in 1649. Note: The Batson Plantation (circled in red) in the below map of Barbados, was created in 1750.
  • Mary Batson’s sister Elizabeth Batson (c. 1625 – c. 1674 Wells, York, Maine) married Simon Trott (1618 Somerset, England – 1666 Cape Porpoise, York, Maine) about 1656. Note: The Trott plantation, listed on an earlier 1657 map of Barbados, added by the author to the map below (circled in red).
  • Mary Batson married 2nd William Brockus (c. 1620 – c. 1680 Barbados) about 1665. They both lived in Barbados and sold 8 acres of deceased Jonas Clay’s land at Sagamore Creek to Richard Tucker who then deeded it to George Jones in 1670.
  • Jonas and Mary’s only son Jonas Clay (1650 Boston, MA – 1704 Boston, MA) “evid brought up by Richard Tucker of Portsmouth” (NH). He later was a master mariner, of Boston and married Mary Allen (1659 Boston, MA – 1704 Boston, MA) and they had 7 children. This Capt Jonas sailed between the Caribbean and New England.

Theory: The early New England Clay line of Jonas (1620-1663) came to the colonies via Barbados.

No newer maps of Barbados show the Trott plantation.  Barbados maps of 1671 to 1794 show a Batson plantation in the location shown above.  Barbados maps of 1750 to 1794 show the Clay plantation. The map ledger for the above map indicates that a circle like the one under Batson is a “Plantation of one Windmill” and the icons under Clay and Trott plantations  are ‘Plantations of less Note.’