John Hale was probably born in Henley-Upon-Thames or a neighbouring Parish circa 1700, though an exact year of birth is difficult to determine. The most likely possibility for our John was baptised in St. Mary's Parish Church, Henley-Upon-Thames, on 6 August 1681. This John was the second son of William Harle and Ann (nee Silver), who married in Henley on 15 October or December 1676. Records suggest that this was William's second marriage, and that he first married sometime prior to December 1661. William and Ann Hale's first child was a son named William, baptised in St. Mary's Church, Henley, on 17 May 1678. William senior died on 5 September 1688, leaving his wife Ann with two young sons to provide for.
There were numerous other Hale families established in the Henley area during the mid to late 1600's. The Protestation Returns of 1641-42 record two Hale names in Henley, that of Burcket Hale, a Shoemaker, and Richard "Hall", and the Henley Hearth Tax of 1665 records a John Hale in Henley with three hearths, being the average number of hearths recorded in the Henley return. A Laurence Hale from the neighbouring Parish of Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire, had Henley connections by the year 1717.
Map showing the proximity of Henley to Binfield and Wokingham (Ockingham).
Another possibility for our John is John Hayl born to Bernard Hayl in 1698 in the nearby Berkshire Parish of Binfield. This John was baptised in Binfield on 8 May 1698, the third son of Bernard Hale, a Carpenter, and Frances (nee Yats), who married in Binfield on 4 June 1693. Frances died in the early spring of 1701(1702), and was buried on March 17. After her death there is no further record of Bernard or his family in Binfield, having seemingly moved to the town of Clewer, near Windsor, in Berkshire. The Hales of Binfield went under the alias of Sowthey during the 1600's, but the reason for this remains unclear.
Given the close proximity of the Parishes of Henley-Upon-Thames, Rotherfield Greys, and Binfield, Berkshire, it is possible that all three Hale families were somehow related. Though his ancestry remains for now impossible to prove for certain, it is clear that whichever family John was descended from were of no great means, and that John would have had to work hard to get on in the world.
John Hale from the Parish of Henley-Upon-Thames in the county of Oxfordshire is first recorded in the Parish of Wokingham, Berkshire, upon his marriage to Rose Skye of Wokingham on 2 October 1729. Wokingham lies some twenty two kilometres south of Henley-Upon-Thames, upon the southern side of the River Thames in the heart of Berkshire's rolling countryside. Rose was the fifth child of Nathanial Skye and his wife Avelin, and was baptised in All Saints Parish Church, Wokingham, on 30 September 1703. Rose was twenty-six years of age when she married John in All Saints Parish Church, Wokingham, and their marriage saw the coming of the Hale family name to Wokingham.
If John Hale was the son of William and Ann of Henley-Upon-Thames, he would have been 48 at the time of his marriage to Rose Skye. During this period many men married late, or sometimes married for the second or third time at a late age. Parish registers of the time did not record the ages of those marrying, nor whether they were single or a widower, so it is impossible at this stage to prove whether this John is definitely ours. At the time of his death in 1761 he would have been 80 years of age, so certainly he is not beyond the realms of probability.
Seven children were born to John and Rose Hale. Hannah, the first born, was baptised in All Saints Parish Church, Wokingham, on 2 August 1730, followed by a son named John who was baptised in January 1731. Until 1753 the New Year began on March 25, so by our reckoning his baptism would actually have been at the beginning of 1732 (see Appendix M). Hannah married Thomas Maurice from the neighbouring Parish of Binfield by Banns on 22 December 1754 in All Saints Parish Church, Wokingham. Her brother John Hale and a Thomas Shefford witnessed the marriage. Five years later John would marry Thomas Sheffords' cousin Dinah. Later records show that this John learnt the trade of Cordwainer, a shoemaker and worker of leather. Cordwainer was commonly a familial occupation, so it is possible that his father, John from Henley, was also a Cordwainer, bringing his skills from Henley to start anew in Wokingham.
Another daughter, Rose, the third child of John and Rose Hale, was baptised in All Saints Parish Church on 23 January 1733(1734), but she lived only a few months and was buried on 9 February 1733(1734) in the Church graveyard. The fourth child, Sarah, was baptised on 30 April 1735, in All Saints Parish Church. Sarah married Jeames Nation on 11 September 1768, in the neighbouring Parish of Swallowfield, Berkshire.
A second daughter named Rose was baptised in All Saints Parish Church on 5 January 1737(1738), but she too died as an infant. Rose was buried on 25 December 1738 in the graveyard of All Saints Parish Church, Wokingham. The sixth child born to John and Rose Hale was Jane, baptised in All Saints Parish Church on 7 May 1740. Jane married at the age of 25 to James Wright on 25 August 1765 in All Saints Parish Church, Wokingham. The marriage was witnessed by Abraham Brown, and also by Thomas Shefford, who witnessed the marriage of Jane's sister Hannah.
John Hale's wife Rose died in the late Autumn of 1751, and was buried on 28 November in the churchyard of All Saints Parish Church, Wokingham. She was just forty-eight years old. The exact date of John's death is difficult to establish. Three John Hale's are recorded as being buried in Wokingham between April 1761 and June 1770, but there is no record of age or relatives in All Saints Burial register, making positive identification impossible. It is most likely that John Hale from Henley-Upon-Thames was buried on 4 April 1761.
Beyond these few dates and surmises little is known about this John from whom so many are descended.