No one knows where the Halseys came from. There are villages called Halse in Somerset and Northamptonshire, and over the North Sea the surname Hals occurs in the Low Countries. Halseys have lived on the hilly ridge between Hemel Hempstead and the Chiltern Escarpment for time out of mind. In the 1300s the name emerges from the mists of the Middle Ages. The earliest legal document in the family archives dates from 1458, recording that Richard Halsey, with other parishioners, covenanted with the Prior of King’s Langley to pay 10 shillings (50p) to the poor of Great Gaddesden, a payment which is still made annually to the Vicar.
The third William Halsey applied for the grant of a Coat of Arms. This regularised the arms he had been recorded as using. It is described as an: ‘argent on a pile sable three griffins heads erased of the field, the crest a dexter forearm proper, sleeved gules, cuffed argent holding a griffin’s claw erased or.’
In the early 1600s a Thomas Halsey sailed to Lynn in Massachusetts Bay Colony. He eventually settled in Southampton, Long Island, New York, where his family still live. The house he built in 16, now a museum, is [one of] the oldest ‘saltbox’ house in New York State. Apart from the cedar shingles, it is a typical English seventeenth century farmhouse.*Renovations done to the Halsey House in 2003 determined the home was built in 1666 by Thomas Halsey's son Thomas Halsey, Jr., and not, as long believed, in 1648 by the English-born Thomas Halsey.