Friday, June 5, 2009

The Tay's....

People sometimes ask me where the name "Tay" comes from. Actually, it's a very old family name. I was named after William Tay, who came over to America in the 17th century. I assume he was Scottish given that "Tay" is both the name of a town, a loch, and the longest river in Scotland. A ship's register has his occupation listed as "distiller of strong spirits." We believe he was born in 1608. He married Grace Newell in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1644. She was 13 years younger than he (23 to his 36). Together they had eight children (Grace, John, Isaiah, Abiel, Peter, Nathaniel, Jeremiah, and Elizabeth). He lived to be 75. His wife managed an impressive 91 years!

Nathaniel married and had eight more kids. Among them, another William Tay, whom I believe is the William Tay that fought in the French and Indian Wars as an officer commissioned by Samuel Adams. This William married Abigail Jones and the two of them had one child, Samuel Tay.

Samuel fought on the Patriot side of the American Revolution, rising through the ranks. Quite a few other men with the surname of "Tay" are listed on the Patriots' Rolls as being from the town of Woburn, so I suspect they were all cousins and siblings. The Woburn Militia was one of the principal combatants at the Battle of Concord Bridge, which was the first Patriot victory of the Revolutionary War.

After the war Samuel and his wife had one son, another Samuel. Several more Samuels follow down the line until you get to Samuel Wright Tay, also known as "Tutu" (the Hawaiian word for "Elder." He moved to Hawai'i in 1910 with his wife. At that time Hawai'i was a U.S. Territory with lots of agricultural production. His skills an engineer were no doubt in demand! They had no sons, so "Tay" died out as a surname, however it continued as a given name.

Their daughter Alice Elizabeth Tay married my grandfather, William Washburn Moss, Jr., and the two eventually settled back in Hawai'i after spending some time in New England and having three kids. One of them was my father. I'm not sure how my parents chose "William Tay" in particular, other than it is a historic name in our family, but I'm glad they did.

So... That's the basic story of my name!


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