Hay, George (1572-1634) (DNB00)

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HAY, Sir GEORGE, first Earl of Kinnoull (1572–1634), lord chancellor of Scotland, descended from a younger branch of the family of William de Haya, ancestor of the Earls of Errol, fourth son of Sir Peter Hay of Megginch (d. 1596), was born in 1572. About 1590 he was sent to the Scots College at Douay, where he studied under his uncle Edmund Hay [q. v.] ‘the jesuit.’ Not long after his return to Scotland in 1596, he was appointed a gentleman of the bedchamber. On 18 Feb. 1598 he received the commendam of the Charterhouse of Perth with a seat in parliament, and also the ecclesiastical lands of Errol. On the ground, however, that the rents of these lands were too small to support the dignity of a lord of parliament, he resigned his seat. On the death of the Earl of Gowrie at Perth, 5 Aug. 1600, he received the lands of Nethercliff out of his forfeited estates. In July 1605 he was appointed along with three other commissioners to repress outrages in Lewis (Reg. P. C. Scotl. vii. 86), caused by jealousy of traders from the lowlands. Proceeding there in August, they succeeded in compelling the unruly persons ‘to remove furth of the isle, and give security not to return,’ but the effect of the visit was only temporary, for the old settlers soon returned, and compelled the new settlers to resign their claims for small sums of money. Some time in 1609 Hay received the honour of knighthood, his name appearing as Sir George Hay in an action against Patrick Douglas of Kilspindie on 3 Aug. of that year (ib. viii. 339). On 24 Dec. of the following year he received from the king a patent for the manufacture of iron and glass in Scotland. A proclamation was made on 19 May 1613 against any of his majesty's lieges transporting out of the kingdom any iron ore in prejudice of Sir George Hay's works (Balfour, Annals, ii. 42). On 26 March 1616 he was made clerk-register and an ordinary lord of session. Hay is mentioned by Calderwood as one of three who, on the occasion of the meeting of parliament in May 1617, received the communion in the chapel of Holyrood after the English form, ‘not regarding either Christs institution or the ordour of our kirk’ (Hist. vii. 247), and he was also one of those who voted for the five articles of Perth establishing a modified ceremonial (ib. p. 499). In July 1622 he was made lord high chancellor of Scotland. When Charles I, in July 1626, sent down twelve articles to the lords of session to regulate their duties, Hay and others so firmly opposed them that they became entirely inoperative (Balfour, Annals, ii. 138). Hay also steadfastly resisted the command of the king, made on 12 July of this year, that the Archbishop of St. Andrews should have precedency of the lord chancellor. On 4 May 1627 he was created Viscount of Dupplin and Lord Hay of Kinfauns, and on the occasion of the king's coronation in Scotland he was, on 25 May 1633, created Earl of Kinnoull by patent to him and his heirs male. Sir James Balfour relates that when on the day of his coronation the king sent the Archbishop of St. Andrews as Lyon king-at-arms to Kinnoull to intimate his pleasure that for that day only he should give place to the archbishop, of whom he claimed precedency as chancellor, Kinnoull vehemently declined to obey. The king did not press his point. ‘I will not meddle further,’ he added, ‘with that ald cankered gootishe man, at whose hand there is nothing to be gained but sour words’ (Balfour, ii. 142). Kinnoull died in London of apoplexy on 16 Dec. of the following year. His body was embalmed and brought to Kinnoull, where, on 19 Aug. 1635, it was interred in the nave of St. Constantine's Church. Here a life-size statue has been erected to his memory, representing him in his robes as lord chancellor of Scotland. He is commemorated in a Latin epitaph by Arthur Johnston. By his wife Margaret, daughter of Sir James Halyburton of Pitcur, he had two sons, Sir Peter Hay, who predeceased him, and George, second earl of Kinnoull.

[Register Privy Council Scotland; Calderwood's Hist. Church of Scotland; Sir James Balfour's Annals; Douglas's Scottish Peerage, ed. Wood, ii. 46–7.]

T. F. H.