Select Day Miscellany

Here are some Day stories and accounts over the years:

Possible Welsh Origins of the Day Surname

Robert Day was one of the founders of Hartford, Connecticut in 1648 and the tradition in his family was that his Day family had originally been the Dee family from Wales.  The line went back to Nicholas Day, the son of John Dee who was called by the English Daye.  John Dee was the son of the Welshman Morgan Dee.  

Dee signifying, it was said, dark or dingy was the name of a small river in Wales, and was probably also applied to some ancestor of the family dwelling upon its banks in order to distinguish him from others.  In time, the word Dee came to be written, according to its apparent sound, Daye or Day

The Dee spelling did persist.  John Dee, born in London of Welsh parents, was an alchemist who advised Queen Elizabeth at times.  He tried to straddle the worlds of both science and magic.  During his lifetime he did earn high status as a scholar.

The Horseracing Days

The first of these Days was probably John Day of Houghton Down Farm near Stockbridge in Hampshire.  He somehow became the racing adviser to the Prince Regent, afterwards George IV, in the 1790’s.  Perhaps it was because he had the reputation of being able to drink two more bottles of wine than any of his companions.  He was the “Gloomy Day” of Deighton’s caricature made on Brighton Steyne in 1801.  

But it was his son John Barham Day who was the real patriarch of the family.  He began his racing career as an apprentice to Smallman, the Prince Regent's trainer.  As a jockey he won the Oaks four times and the St. Leger twice, his last Classic win being at the age of 46 on Lord George Bentinck's Crucifix in the Oaks in 1840.  

He then established the Day racing stables at Danebury near Stockbridge on the Hampshire Downs where h
e acquired the nickname of Honest John.  This nickname might have been applied ironically.  In 1841 Lord George Bentinck, convinced that the Days were defrauding him by betraying stable secrets to the bookmakers, removed his entire string of racehorses from Danebury.  

Four of Day's brothers became jockeys, including Samuel Day who rode three winners of the Epsom Derby. He and his Irish wife raised twelve children, including two successful jockeys Samuel and Alfred and two successful trainers John and William.  

William who started training horses at Woodyates near Cranborne Chase in Dorset was the most successful of these offspring, first as a trainer and then as a horse-breeder.  However, he was a heavy gambler who was involved in a number of racing scandals and clashes with leading racing figures.  At one time a comparatively rich man, he lost the bulk of his fortune by speculating in poor land.  

William did have some literary aptitude and published a number of books, including The Racehorse in Training (1880), Reminiscences of William Day of Woodyates (1886) and The Horse: How to Breed and Rear Him (1888).

Jeremiah Day, President of Yale University

The frail and unassuming Jeremiah Day exerted an enormous influence on the development of Yale University during the early 19th century. 

He held the position of Professor of Mathematics and Moral Philosophy from 1801 and composed three widely-used texts in this field, An Introduction to Algebra (1814), A Treatise on Plane Geometry (1815), and The Mathematical Principles of Navigation and Surveying (1817).  That year 1817 he was ordained into the Congregational ministry and became President of Yale University as well.  

Despite precarious health, including a heart attack in 1836 and recurrent bout of angina thereafter, Day remained in office for twenty nine years and occupied a seat on the Yale Corporation for an additional two decades thereafter.  During his presidency, he was midwife to a new philosophy of undergraduate education that drew a careful distinction between a general undergraduate program, "the foundation of a superior education," and the more applied program espoused by the professional schools.  

Day died in 1867 at the age of 94.

Benjamin Day's Bible

Benjamin Day was born in Connecticut in 1755 and died there in 1829.   The Bible dates from about 1810. Benjamin and his wife Hannah had nine children, all of whom were listed in its marriage section.  The descent via son Daniel went as follows: 

  • Daniel Day, 1792 – 1842
  • Dan Douglas Day, 1831 – 1906   
  • and Dewey Douglas Day, 1874 – 1944
Dewey received the Bible from his uncle Henry after he had died in 1915.  Inside the Bible at that time was an obituary for Gad Day and two letters, both of them written to Dewey. 

The first letter was written by Henry Day in 1911.  In the letter Henry told his nephew Dewey that he has the Bible and was taking good care of it and that he would send it to him.  The second letter, written in 1916, was from Henry's wife telling Dewey that she is sending him the Bible because Henry wanted him to have the Bible because he had no son to pass it down to.

The Day Family in Georgia

In the years prior to the Civil War, Judge Joseph Day was a plantation owner in Macon, Georgia and socially prominent as the speaker in the state House of Representatives.  He and his first wife Jincey had two daughters, Rebecca and Sarah.  These two Day girls were known as the “richest young ladies in Georgia.” 

The ravages of the Civil War left his daughters and second wife much poorer and, after his death, they moved to Staunton, Virginia where they established a boarding house to make ends meet.  His second wife Mary remarried there.  However, her new husband blew all the remaining money and they became reliant on the income of their sons.

Joseph Day’s house in Georgia, called Tranquilla, is still standing, although in bad repair.   Following the plan of southern houses, it contained eight living rooms only, four on a floor, each room 18 x 18 and divided by a hall thirty-six feet long with a spiral staircase.  A verandah was to the side and a double porch on the front with two white columns.  Also following the southern custom, all servant quarters and working quarters were outside of the house. 

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