Hay, Thomas (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 25
Hay, Thomas

by James Tait ‎
Given as the 9th Earl in the ODNB, where his father-in-law is John Kyrle-Ernlie (elsewhere John Kyrle Ernle).

HAY, THOMAS, eighth Earl of Kinnoull (1710–1787), eldest son of George Hay, seventh earl [q. v.], was carefully educated, and attained some reputation as a classical scholar. In 1736, when Lord Dupplin, he was elected member of parliament for Scarborough, but was unseated on petition. At the general election in 1741 he was returned for the borough of Cambridge, of which he was recorder, and was re-elected in 1747 and 1754. In the last two parliaments he was chairman of the committee of privileges and elections. In 1741 he was appointed one of the commissioners of the revenue in Ireland, and in 1746 was made a lord of trade and plantations. As a member of parliament he gradually rose to a position of influence. In 1751 he was described by Horace Walpole as ‘fond of forms and trifles,’ but ‘not absolutely a bad speaker.’ He took a prominent part in the efforts to improve the condition of Nova Scotia, and in April 1754 the Duke of Newcastle made him a lord of the treasury. He often negotiated money affairs for the government in the city, and in the House of Commons defended the ministry in regard to many money transactions. In 1755 Dupplin was made joint paymaster with Lord Darlington. According to Horace Walpole, Dupplin was then reckoned among the thirty ablest men in the House of Commons, and it was said of him that he ‘aimed at nothing but understanding business and explaining it.’ He was well known in general political and literary society, and his friends included Lord-chancellor Hardwicke, Lord Mansfield, and Archbishop Secker. He knew Gay, and was acquainted with Pope. He is the prating ‘Balbus’ of Pope's ‘Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot.’

When, in 1756, it was suggested to Newcastle that he should strengthen his position by securing the co-operation of Fox, Dupplin strongly opposed the step. In 1757 he declined an offer of the chancellorship of the exchequer in the Duke of Newcastle's second administration, but later in the year there was much talk of his replacing Lord Halifax as first lord of trade. In 1758 he entered Newcastle's second ministry as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster and a privy councillor, and succeeded his father in the same year as Earl of Kinnoull. Next year he was sent as ambassador extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Portugal with a view to make satisfaction to the court of Lisbon for the violation of Portuguese neutrality by Admiral Boscawen, who had taken and burned French ships off Lagos.

Kinnoull, whose health suffered from his official work, retired into private life in 1762, when the Duke of Newcastle ceased to be premier. He thenceforth resided on his estates in Perthshire, encouraging his tenants to improve the land by granting them leases at moderate rents and erecting new houses and farm-buildings. Owing to his efforts, a bridge (completed in 1771 after Smeaton's designs) was built at Perth over the Tay.

In 1765 Kinnoull was elected chancellor of the university of St. Andrews, an office which he held during the remainder of his life. He was likewise president of the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge in Scotland. He died at Dupplin Castle, Perthshire, on 27 Dec. 1787. Some of his correspondence with the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle, T. Hurdis, and others is preserved among the Addit. MSS. at the British Museum.

On 12 June 1741 he married Constantia, only daughter and heiress of John Kyrle Crule of Whithaven in Wiltshire, by whom he had an only son (b. 12 Aug. 1742), who died in infancy. His nephew, Robert Auriol Hay, succeeded as ninth earl.

[Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, Wood's ed. vol. ii.; Horace Walpole's Memoirs; Scots Mag.; First Statistical Hist. of Scotland, 1795; Smiles's Lives of the Engineers, vol. ii.; Walpole's Letters, ed. Cunningham, ii. 376, 378–9, 492, iii. 68, 84, 269, 286; Pope's Works, ed. Elwin and Courthope, iii. 262, viii. 247, 300, 304, 309.]

J. T.