Dilday is another one of these mysterious names that seem to exist solely in Nansemond, Gates, and Hertford Counties. Its provenance is unknown, though some suggest a link to the Scottish Delday. Dilday first emerges in the Nansemond and Gates records in the 18th Century. Edward Dilday is mentioned as the son-in-law of William Crawford in his 1735 Chowan County will. Multiple Dildays later emerge in Chowan and Gates Counties, as well as Nansemond and Hertford. Joseph, Henry, Charles, and Amos Dilday were all adult males around the time of the American Revolution.
Some Gates County marriages:
Joseph Dilday to Judith Odomm—26 March 1784, John Boyce (Bond), Law Baker
Henry Dilday to Sukey Ross—16 June 1784, Levi Lee (Bond), Law Baker (Witness)
Charles Dilday to Mary Braddy—8 March 1786, Sebron Sear
Amos Dilday to Athelia Purvis—9 June 1789, William Mar (Bond), Law Baker (Witness).
All of these names are of interest in light of these early Gates County documents:
28 Jan 1789 – Henry Delday to Henry Eborn Sears – 20 Pds. 50a. – joining Joel Goodman, William Gatling, Isaac Pipkin and William Goodman. Sig. Henry Delday, Witnesses: James Brady, Samuel Collins, Mary Brady.
Samuel Collins is most likely Lamuel Collins, the man who is listed in the Gates County tax lists at that time. I found this Revolutionary War pension application from Amos Dilday also interesting.
This applicant further maketh oath that in the year of 1781 he was a substitute for one James Russell a private in Captain Cole’s company.
If I am correct, this James Russell is the elder brother of my direct line ancestor Anna Russell.
The name Seth Dilday shows up in later generations of the family. In the 1830 Census, there is a Seth Dilday in Hertford County with five white persons and one free person of color in his household. In the same census, across the river, there is a Seth Dilday in Gates County with three free persons of color in his household. In the following census from 1840, Miles T. Dilday and Lettice Dilday are listed as the heads of free colored households in Gates County. In 1860, Lettice is part of a household of dozens in Reynoldson, Gates County, with other surnames like Cuff, Robbins, Sawyer, Artis, Rooks, Boone, Townsel, and Cowper in it. You also find mulatto Dildys in Hall Township.
While the origin of the Dildays remains unclear, I have seen the name in some Hyde and Craven County records. Still trying to figure this one out.