Basil Hayden Sr. was a Maryland Catholic who led a group of twenty-five Catholic families from Maryland into what is now Nelson County, Kentucky in 1785. There Hayden donated the land for the first Catholic church west of the Alleghenies and the first Catholic church in what is now the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
The Heydons emigrated to the Virginia Colony in the 1660s, when much of Britain became inhospitable to Catholics. Francis Hayden, Basil Sr.'s great-grandfather and the first Heydon , moved from Virginia to Maryland in 1678, settling in St. Mary's County on St. Clement's Bay, where the family remained until Basil led his band of Catholic families into present-day Nelson County, Kentucky. During the American Revolution, Basil Sr. supplied provisions to the Colonial Army.
Hayden's family can be traced back to England to the period shortly after the Norman Conquest.One ancestor, Simon de Heydon, was knighted by Richard the Lionheart in the Holy Land during the Third Crusade in the 1190s.His son, Thomas de Heydon, was made Justice Itinerant of Norfolk by Henry III. Around 1400, another ancestor, John Heydon, appears to have been associated with "The Grove"– a large estate in Watford , located about twenty miles northwest of London. Some researchers have speculated that John Heydon was given the estate for his father Sir Richard de Heydon's services in the French Wars, where Sir Richard perished.Others are less sure. But Heydons definitely lived in Watford from the fourteenth through seventeenth centuries.