A Fragment of Family History

The Result of Much Research in the British Museum


Of  Portland, Maine, U.S.A.
James Speirs, 36 Bloomsbury Street, London
As First Published in 1877
    Edited by Thomas Keys, Hayden Family


 I have copied this report from the 1877 original. Any corrections, additions, and changes by ME are in italics. First note that the ancient family name was spelled HEYDON, as in the Norfolk and Watford lines; HAYDON, for the Devon Family  and then HAYDEN  in the United States. Sometimes a recorder did not spell the name correctly either.


“An ancient family, belonging to the order of knights” the books say.  The precise position occupied by them in the Norman immigration has not been distinctly made out.

The difficulty of tracing them arises from a want of knowing a title by which they were known before the present Sir name became attached to them.  According to the authorities, they acquired the name of Heydon from the town of Heydon, in Norfolk, where they were seated, and where lay their original estate.  Says Blomefield (vol. VI, p.341)”The town of Heydon, or Haydon, is not known by that name in Domesday Book, but was then in Eyrsford Hundred, and was called Stinetuna or Stinton.  The town was about a mile long and half as much broad.  The present name of Heydon, or Haydon, as it is commonly called, signified a "High Down" or "Plain In The Hill," which is agreeable to it location. Also it comes from the ancient Saxon language of  "heathe-dun" which means heather covered hills, which do abound in the area (Apparently our Norman invader ancestors invented their new name to be agreeable with their new geography.) It is in the liberty of the Duchy of Lancaster.  The seat and domaine were called Heydon Hall and Manor, alias Stinton Hall and Manor.  Heydon and Stinton Manors were subsequently divided.  The regal settlement of Heydon  Manor, makes the eldest son heir.


The town of Heydon lies about fourteen miles a little west of North from Norwich, the shire town of Norfolk Co.  The lands there, according to Domesday Book (Volume 11, page 157) were at the time of William the Conqueror’s survey, under the lordship of one Whither, a Saxon, from whom William the Conqueror seized them, bestowing them upon the Earl of Warren, (William de Warrena.)  The Heydons must have had their tenure from the Warrens, (ancient records state that they were cousins) as adherents or retainers of theirs.  Very early we find them intermarried with the Warrens, also with descendants of Wm. The Conqueror, with the Says, Mowbrays, Longvoilles, Gurneys, Boleyns, etc.”



The following is a very brief background on the Warrens who bestowed lands on the Heydons after the Conquest.


Translation from the Latin


William the first Earl of Warenne took to wife Gundrada daughter of William the Conqueror of England; of whom issued William the Second Earl of Warenne.


 William the First de Warenne, first Earl of Surrey and founder of the church of Lewes died 24 June in the year of grace 1088, and of the foundation of the church in the 11th, and from the conquest the 23rd.  He at first was only called simply William de Warenne.  But afterwards in the course of time by William the King and Conqueror of England, whose daughter he married, he was much honoured and was made and called Earl of Surrey.  He lies in the Chapterhouse of Lewes beside Lady Gundrada his Countess daughter of the said King, the Conqueror.  This Earl continued through the whole time of William the Conqueror, for 20 years, and for one year in the time of King William II Rufus.


Translation from the French


     William de Warenne first Earl of Surrey had to wife Gundrade daughter of the  Conqueror and begot by her two sons William the Second and Reinaud.  This William the first Earl came to England with the said Conqueror and founded this Priory the twelfth year after the Conquest, which was the year of our Lord 1078.


Returning to the Rev.Hayden 1877 Report:


“And from the “Norfolk Tour” IV Vols. Under the same heading, we learn that “the church at Heydon Village is St. Peter’s, now called St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s” Population of Parish in 1829 is 333.    It had a weekly market, kept on the market green, on the south side of the church.  The church is a good regular building, with a handsome square tower and three bells. (Now 6 bells again as per the old original church)  The  baptismal font was erected probably about the fifteenth or sixteenth century; (actually it is from 1200 or 1300 A.D.) it is of a circular form, standing upon circular - - kings of ovolas and cavetoes (?) of the styles which prevailed from the time of King John (1200) to Edward III (1370).  The windows which are much defaced, were formerly adorned with the figures of many saints, Confessors, Martyrs, etc. and in the north window was a representation of some profligates, condemned to the infernal regions, from which is issued in scrolls twelve moral sentences and a lamentation.  Here are inscriptions to the memory of Heydons, Kempe, Colfer, Batchelor, the Sayles and Gallant.  Heydon Hall, in the style of Henry VIII (1581) is  (1829) the seat of William Lylton Bulwer, Esq.” the elder brother of the novelist. (This latter Heydon Hall is not now and never has been a Heydon family residence. It has been built near to but not upon the site of the ancient, original Heydon Hall. It is simply the name attached to another family's home located in the Heydon area.)


Were an apology required for preparing this fragmentary sketch, it might be found in the practice so much abounding of late, of giving attention to matters of genealogy, It is a growing custom in New England to print family histories.  The present essay, however, is not the result of long premeditated design; nor would it have been undertaken at the expense of much time or labor.  But the materials for it having been prepared to his hand by others, and been thrown so directly in his way from a number of widely different sources without effort on his part, that a refusal to put them on record, for the benefit of those who may be interested in them, at length began to appear to the writer something like an omission or a neglect of opportunity.


It may be proper to state, that the principal impulse to this undertaking has been imparted by letters of inquiry received from others of the same name, and by a visit to old England.  In England, such details are far more matters of publicity than in America, and are therefore more easily accessible.  Nearly everything since the Norman Conquest has been printed, from Domesday Book downwards; records of every sort, state papers, parish books, land transfers, funerals, monuments, etc., and can be readily turned to and be examined.  In the published works on genealogy, also, may be found drawn out the pedigrees of nearly every family that has held estates, or had an interest in the soil, for many hundred years.  All one has to do is to step into the great rotunda of the British Museum and get down from some of its 3000 “presses” the requisite volumes of parish or county history, or other record, in order to discover what he had wish to know, or at least, nearly everything knowable in this direction.  In the principal line of descent, all the individuals appear in their places, one generation after another, from century to century: birth, baptism, marriage, issue (i.e., children), arms, estates owned, offices filled, title, death, burial and will, all appearing in regular succession.  


Besides the private information volunteered him by interested persons, the compiler has drawn his materials mainly from the following works: Blomefied’s “History of Norfolk”, 11vols.8vol;Clullerbuck’s: Antiquities of the County of Hertford” 3 Vols. folio; Westcotes “Pedigrees of Devonshire Families,” Chauncey’s “Historical Antiquities of Hertfordshire” - - (?) Volumes; “Prince’s Devon-Worthies”; “The Norfolk Tour”, 2 Volumes, Weavers “Funeral Monuments”,  “The Parliamentary and State Papers, Domestic Series”; Ditto “Colonial Series”; Cornish’s “Notes of the Parish of Ottery St. Mary”; “Domesday Book”, 3 vols.folio;  “Record of Massachusetts.Bay Co.”,  “The Vinton Memorial” (Boston);  “Gurney’s Record of the House of Gurney” 2 vols. 4 to- (?) and has added some things from personal observation.  Considerable care has been necessary to gather the items from the scattered materials, to harmonize apparent discrepancies and weave them into a continuous narrative, no attempt of them having been made before in England or America.


From the notes of Thos. Heydon, Esq. (note spelling) No 9, King’s Road, Bedford Row, now living, (1877) I learned that “The Heydons of Norfolk, by Sir William Heydon,  sold this property to the Bulwers in the 9th year of Queen Elizabeth” 1567.   It came first to the Dynes and afterwards to the Bulwers.


Blomefield, Vol.VI, page 244, under the heading “Heydon cum Membris” remarks: “The ancient family of Heydons took their name from this town, where they originally sprung; but as their chief residence when in full prosperity was at Baconsthorpe, I design to speak of them at large under that place. (They eventually sold off some of their property in Heydon and moved to Baconsthorpe area and built there.)  “Baconsthorpe is a small parish or village of some 250 inhabitants, about 5 miles north of Heydon, and 19 miles from Norwich.”  We shall follow them thither in our next chapter, when we come to speak of the Norfolk line.


The family comes into public notice early in the 13th century in the person of Thomas de Heydon, resident at Heydon and a justice itinerant (traveling) in Norfolk in 1221; reign of Henry III.   From him the several lines appear all to have proceeded.  They do not seem to have been numerous at any period of their history.  The principal branch, in the persons of the ELDEST son, remained in Norfolk, inheriting the estates at Heydon, Baconsthorpe and elsewhere.  (This Norfolk Heydon Branch eventually ran out of male heirs and the estates were bankrupt and sold off in 1689.)   A branch, in the line of a second son by the name of John de Heydon settled in Devon in 1273 in the reign of King Edward VIII.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Another

Another branch, a few generations later, under Edward III. about 1375,moved to Watford, (Watford/Hertfordshire Branch) near London, in the county of Hertford. (The Maryland Heydons/Haydons/Haydens and Kentucky Hayden Line descend from the Watford/ Hertfordshire Branch).


        From these points they have spread, sparsely into a few other counties, Suffolk, Surrey, Kent, Warwickshire and Bedfordshire.  But the history is mostly confined to the principal lines.  They were lovers of locality, their habit being to fasten in the soil and remain there for many generations until something came to disturb their tenure.


Their favorite occupation seems to have been the law; they figure as judges, sheriffs, magistrates of different degrees, barristers, and very largely as the administrators of wills and the managers of estates.  They appear also frequently as commanders and officers in the army; less frequently as deans and rectors in the church; and only occasionally as members of the medical profession and as artists.


For most of their time they stood well with their sovereigns, being loyal and conservative in their dispositions.  Consequently, they were trusted by the Monarchs and were much in office.  In the War of the Roses, they became staunch adherents of the House of Lancaster, and at the Reformation sided with Henry VIII. becoming active agents in furthering his plans. Hence, during the reigns of Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Queen Elizabeth, James I, and Charles I, They were favorites at court and took the side of the later monarch (Charles I ) against Parliament.  (bad decision) In consequence of the civil wars, the large Heydon estates became encumbered (by Parliament) which in some instances led to pecuniary embarrassment.” (Translation: The Heydons and everyone else who took sides with King Charles against Parliament were hit with massive fines or imprisoned or deported or executed.)


(Note: King Charles was out of control and was relieved of the weight on his shoulders.  Parliament won and as a result the NORFOLK LINE of Heydon’s estates were seized including Baconsthorpe.   The Heydons had to pay massive fines/penalties to regain their land/estates.   To raise the necessary capital to pay these fines Heydon actually tore down a large portion of Baconsthorpe and sold the finished stones in order to regain his lands.  Please see separate story under Norfolk Line)


“As a rule, they had been staunch churchmen, pious and devoted in their way; the builders, repairers and endowers of churches; friends of the clergy, respected for their moral characters, the advocates of advanced views, benevolent in disposition, promoters of good order and charitable benefices.


They appear with marks of honorable distinction in the graduating lists of both the great Universities; Cambridge and Oxford, and have produced a number of authors whose works cover a variety of subjects, but among which that of theology predominates.


Notices of them appear so frequently in the minutes annals of the British realm, that any one so disposed might, without any great amount of research compile a voluminous history; and I have no doubt, trace with accuracy the personal biography of nearly every prominent member of each of the lines.”


       END OF 1877 REPORT



As first published in 1883 by Mr. Levi Hayden


Retyped  from the original document. This is a great tourist's guide of all the sites and almost matches the new photographs enclosed.


            “In the year 1883, Mr. Levi Hayden of Roslindale, Boston, Mass., with his wife, visited England; and their explorations brought to light a number of interesting particulars, which we cull from their journal.  At Saxlingham, Holt, Norfolk, they found more of the remains of the Old Hall of the fourth Sir Christopher Heydon, about A.D. 1600, than we supposed to exist.  A portion of the walls of the lower story was standing, and a white stone tablet over the gateway displayed plainly the Heydon Arms.


The outline of he old Manor House is plainly traceable, covering a large area of ground.  The tall, sharp-peaked barn, as seen in the illustration, is built of the debris of the old structure.  They were able to bring away some interesting photographs of the ruins.  In the church, the curious hieroglyphic pyramid erected as a memorial of Lady Mirabel Rivet Heydon* was gone; and only the kneeling effigy of the lady herself, with hands broken off, remained.  *(See Heydons in England Pamphlet)


From Saxlingham they proceeded by way of Holt, to Baconsthorpe, a distance of twelve miles, calling on the rector, Rev. Mr. Cox, who received them very kindly, affording every facility to render their visit successful and agreeable.  At the church they found the condition of things about as described in the pamphlet, “The Heydons in England.” Baconsthorpe Hall also appears as therein set forth.  The whole exterior is clad with a luxuriant growth of ivy, hiding almost entirely the old arms and devices of the family, which are still distinguishable on the walls above the entrance. Directly above, within the hall of entrance, is seen a beautiful well-preserved groined work of wrought stone. (The curved edge where two vaults of a roof intersects).  It was with much regret that they left this interesting old ruin, which in its glory was so long a residence of the Heydon family.  From this place also, they brought away some valuable photographs.


(In Baconsthorpe)“The large modern farm-house situated between the old gate towers* was built of the debris of the old wall, as was also the causeway now crossing the moat in place of the old draw-bridge.  *(See document Heydons in England) Mr. R. Mack, the occupant of the place, kindly gave the information at his command.  In one corner of the grounds, enclosed by the ruined walls, is shown a large excavation; made many years ago by some money diggers in confident expectation of exhuming important treasures.”


Returning to Norwich they visited Heydon Village, a few miles south, and the ancient seat of the family; looking in at the early church, and about the grounds, now owned by the Bulwer family, and at this late date, 1888, occupied by Baroness Burdette-Couts.


They made a days visit to Watford, and had also a pleasant sojourn of several days at Ottery Saint Mary, where they were interested in inspecting the old town, receiving valuable assistance in their researches from the good people of that place.  The family of Chief Justice Coleridge kindly tendered them frequent access to the ample library of the Lord Chief Justice, then absent on a visit to America, and through the kindness of Wm. R. Coleridge, Esq., churchwarden, they were enabled to obtain photographs of the Heydon Monuments in the church.  They made also a number of short tours to the family places in the neighborhood.


We have been allowed to cull a few facts from Mr. Hayden’s notebook,  “Cadhay Hall has on its gable the Devonshire Haydon crest; viz.: the white lion vulning the black bull. “(Latin: vulnus, -eris to wound)  While in London, Mr. Hayden obtained from the Royal Office of Heraldry authentic copies of the different coats of arms belonging to the Heydons of Norfolk, and Watford, and the Haydons of Devonshire.   They are essentially the same as before reported.


“The large glass chandelier, now hanging in the church at Ottery Saint Mary, is said to have belonged originally to the Haydons, and was formerly in Haydon’s Cadhay Hall.”  Photographs were obtained of the Hall, with the different views of the “Court of the Kings.”


They were told by an aged lady, daughter of the steward of the last Haydon at Cadhay, that the bridge built by John Haydon over the Otter, had a stone tablet with this inscription: “John and Joan built me; who will repair me?"  Mr. Hayden was fortunate enough to obtain possession of a little book formerly the property of Gideon Haydon: "A Manual of Law for Local Magistrates.”


The ancient Haydon seats lie here within a compass of ten or twelve miles square.  The river Otter, running south from Ottery St. Mary, reaches the sea at Sidmouth, less than a dozen miles off, and on its way down passes by Ebford, distant two miles, Harpford, four miles, Boughwood, six miles, and Tipton, about eight miles, The river Exeter runs from Exeter to the sea at Exmouth, in a similar manner to and almost parallel to the Otter, and eleven miles west of it, passing by Topsham, Woodbury, and Lymston on its way.  The valleys of these rivers are very fertile.  Midway between them lies an elevated, dry, sandy plain.  Most of the places mentioned figure in the family history; while Boughwood is said to have been its most ancient possession.


Their first drive was some nine miles southwesterly across the plains to Woodbury, near the Exeter, half way between Exeter and the sea.  “It is a small, quiet, ancient locality, the timeworn church situated in an old graveyard.  On entering, the interior seems quite plain; high backed seats, simple altar, etc.  Looking around for Haydon memorials, we first discover on the left side wall, a tablet, setting forth the gifts of  “John Hayden, gentleman, and citizen of London, who gave by will in 1579, three pounds, six shillings, and eight pence, probably per annum, to be distributed to three poor inhabitants of the parish each Sunday in the year’_, here the inscription is illegible.  They read also that “John Haydon of Cadhay, probably same as above, gave in the year 1590 for the poor an annuity’_the rest defaced.  And in the year ‘1659’ as the results of this will, ‘the annuity had increased to six pounds.’”


Mr. Hayden says also: “On page 92 of my notes I have made a rough draft of the tomb of Nicholas Haydon, with the inscription reading thus: “Here lieth the body of Nicholas Haydon, 8th son of Gideon Haydon, of Cadhay, who departed this life the 26th day of January, 1678, aged 56 years." This was copied in 1883. (-And again by visitors in 2001) He is buried in the old church in Woodbury. We have here a genealogy error of 2 years as our records show he was born May 19, 1620 and is the 9th son if all previous sons lived. If 1 son died then he would be the 8th living son. The birth date of 1620 must be wrong as we show he died at age 58 and since his tomb shows he died in 1678 age 56 that means he was born in 1622 and not in 1620. Either that, or the tomb engraving is in error.


The Haydon crest is still in good repair, on the same side that contains the inscription.  This Nicholas may possibly have been a cousin of our immigrant ancestors, William and John.) He was eight years old at the time they, William and John, left England in the ship “Mary and John.”


Other old box tombs are in the grounds; among them one containing the family of the Gibhards descended in the female line from the Haydons.


Still to the west, ?_ a bricked up structure twelve feet high, with a door at the south end, and a round hole up near the roof in the peak, where I was directed to look in, and there saw two coffins, side by side, the westernmost one higher than the other.  These, I am told, were so deposited to conform to the requirement of a will, a clause reading,” so long as my body shall remain above ground” my property shall be devoted in a certain specified way.


“The town is small, the buildings are quite primitive, many fabricated of earth walls, and straw-thatched roofs; and generally on the decline.  The farms look worn out, yet good crops are obtained.  Returning, we crossed a sandy, elevated plain called “The Commons’ covered with patches of heather.  From this point one gets quite an extended view over a large tract of country; ripening grain in all directions, with a long stretch of hill and valley, seen to the east along the valley of the Otter.”


Their next drive was four miles to the south of Ottery, down the Otter valley to Harpford.  Here “the old church is located on an eminence, above and quite near the river Otter, on the northwest corner of two streets, and surrounded, as all country churches in England are, by the traditional grave-yard, with old mossy slabs, standing or leaning at all angles.  The church is small, and in bad repair; the old seats very much dilapidated, and where repairs have been attempted, they are scanty, and done in rough boards.  By close inspection we found evidences of its having been originally finished in oak, with carved seat ends.  We discovered a once handsome seat end, at the top of the carved memorials, the letters  ‘W.H.’ The oak material shows great age, being well honeycombed with powder-post.  I succeeded in transferring the letters on to paper, and now have them in my possession; this is about the only seat end of the original order, and it being prominently situated would indicate that the early family (Haydon) in Devonshire, as stated by the authorities, held this seat.  Close in contact with this seat, on the wall, is placed the royal arms of King George IV.  Doubtless he occupied it when visiting Sidmouth, near by.  The old church walls seem good and sound, built of stone, but the interior is in great need of restoration, the old stone floors sunken and uneven; a green mold covering the side walls, near the base; and the high-backed seats tipped about at as many angles as the grave stones outside.”


There does not appear to be any vestiges remaining of the Haydons at Boughwood, Harpford, Ebford, Woodbury, or Lymston.


At Exeter, they were shown at the old GuildHall, on a ponderous roll of parchment, grants of property in real estate by King Henry VIII to John Haydon of Cadhay, dated 1545, bearing the sign manual.  Also conveyances by this John Haydon of portions of this property at that early day.  An important fact, which they noticed, is, that in these legal documents the name is spelled in three different ways, viz.: Haidon, Haydon, and Heydon.  Thus showing that those different names were then regarded as one and the same.


Belonging to this line in some way, was Mr. Benjamin Robert Haydon,** the well-known painter and in the grand staircase of the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, hangs his great picture, the largest of his productions, the “Raising of Lazarus” from John xi.43, 44.  The painting is 14 feet 6 inches by 20 feet 9 inches with nineteen colossal figures, Christ standing in the center.  There are three other great historic pictures of his in London, viz: (1) Xenophon's first view of the sea, with his 10,000 Greeks, after having wandered 6 months, including the winter in the Armenian Mountains.  (2) Nero, watching the burning of Rome.  (3) Banishment of Aristides.  His "Christ's Entry into Jerusalem" is in America; He died in London, June 22, 1846. **(Benjamin Robert Haydon is descended from the 4th Gideon Haydon. See his genelogy and history on side tab)


In his published book, he says: "My father was a lineal descendant of the Haydons of Cadhay"  Mr. Frank Scott Haydon, his son, thinks this is a mistake.  He says that the property was lost in a Chancery Suit. (Correct, however that certainly does not cancel out his descendancy from the Devon, Cadhay Line.)  His grandfather (Robert) and other children were bound out to various trades.  Of these Robert was apprenticed to Mr. Savory of Slade, near Plymouth, who made him steward of his estate.  By means of this stewardship he was enabled to save enough money to set up a bookstore in Plymouth, after the death of Mr. Savoy.  He died in 1773.  At the death of the grandfather, the painter's father, Benjamin, succeeded to the business.


Thus we have in this branch:--

1.      The great-great grandfather of the painter (who as it turns out is Gideon Haydon IV).

2.      Robert Haydon Sr. Born -?- who died at Ottery, Oct 8,1757 but not in Cadhay Manor, as it had been sold.

3.      Robert Haydon II born at Ottery in 1714 and died in London in 1773.

4.      Benjamin Haydon Sr. Born Plymouth in 1750, died Plymouth 1813,

5.      Benjamin Robert Haydon (painter) born 1786, died 1846, London.

6.      The 2 sons:  Frederich Wordsworth Hayden, an author, and Mr. Frank Scott Haydon, of the public Record Office, Chancery Lane, Londow, W. C.  who has kindly lent his aid in furthering this inquiry.”



Please see side tabs for Benjamin Robert Haydon and any and all other branch lines.