BiographyJoseph Clay was born 16 October 1741 in Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom to Ralph Clay (c1690-1742) and Elizabeth Habersham (c1714-1743) and died 15 November 1804 in Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia, United States of unspecified causes. He married Ann Legardère (1745-1821) 2 January 1763 in Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia, United States.
Born in England, he immigrated to the United States and in 1760 settled in Savannah, Georgia. During the American Revolution, he served on the local council of safety and was a delegate to the Georgia Provincial Congress in 1775. He was a major in the Georgia Line of the Continental Army during the War of Independence. He was appointed by the Continental Congress as deputy paymaster general in Georgia with the rank of colonel on August 6, 1777. He was elected to the Continental Congress in 1778, but did not attend. He was a judge of the United States District Court for the District of Georgia from 1786 to 1801. He was appointed to the United States circuit court for the Fifth Circuit following John Adams's infamous Midnight Judges Act, but declined the commission.