Hay, William (1695-1755) (DNB00)

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HAY, WILLIAM (1695–1755), author, second son of William Hay of Glyndebourne, Sussex, M.P. for Seaford, by his wife, Barbara, youngest daughter of Sir John Stapley, bart., of Patcham, Sussex, was born at Glyndebourne on 21 Aug. 1695. Both his parents died while he was quite a child. In 1705 he was sent to school at Newick, near Lewes, whence he was removed in 1710 to the grammar school at Lewes. He matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, on 20 March 1712. Leaving the university without a degree, he was admitted in 1715 to the Middle Temple, where he appears to have been called to the bar in Michaelmas term 1723. While pursuing his legal studies he was attacked with small-pox, which severely injured his eyesight. In 1718 he travelled through many parts of England and Scotland. The manuscript notes which he made during this tour of more than a thousand miles are said to be preserved at Glyndebourne. In 1720 he made a tour through France, Germany, and Holland. On his return he settled down in the country, and became an active county magistrate, and in 1733 was appointed chairman of quarter sessions for the eastern division of Sussex. At a by-election in January 1734 he was returned to the House of Commons for Seaford, and continued to represent that constituency until his death. Hay was a whig, and a general supporter of the policy of Sir Robert Walpole. In March 1736 and again in February 1737 he brought in a bill for the better relief and employment of the poor, but failed to carry it through the house (Journals of the House of Commons, xxii. 607, 746). In February 1738 he took part in the debate on the reduction of the army (Parl. Hist. x. 376–9), and in May following was appointed a commissioner for victualling the navy. During the discussion of the navy estimates in February 1740 he defended himself from a personal attack, and challenged ‘the most rigorous scrutiny’ into his conduct at the victualling office (ib. xi. 414). In December 1747 he brought in a bill for the better relief of the poor by voluntary charities (Journals of the House of Commons, xxv. 464), which passed through the commons without any opposition, but was dropped in the House of Lords. He was appointed keeper of the records in the Tower in 1753, and died of apoplexy at Glyndebourne on 22 June 1755, in the sixtieth year of his age. He was buried in Glynde churchyard. Hay was deformed, and scarcely five feet high. Arduous in his parliamentary duties, it was said of him that he was ‘the first in and the last out of the commons.’

In 1731 he married Elizabeth, the second daughter of Thomas Pelham of Catsfield Place, Sussex, by whom he had three sons and two daughters. His eldest son, Thomas, lieutenant-colonel in the Queen's dragoons, represented Lewes from March 1768 to September 1780, and died on 9 Feb. 1786. His second son, William, a member of the supreme council at Calcutta, was murdered while a hostage at Patna on 5 Oct. 1763. His youngest son, Henry, died on 24 Oct. 1754, aged 18. On the death of Frances, the younger of his two daughters, Glyndebourne passed to his nephew, the Rev. Francis Tutté, and is now in the possession of Mr. William Langham Christie. Portraits of Hay and of his eldest and youngest sons are prefixed to his collected works, which were published at the expense of his two daughters, under the editorship of their cousin, the Rev. Francis Tutté, in 1794, London, 4to, 2 vols. He was the author of the following works: 1. ‘An Essay on Civil Government, treating summarily of its necessity, original, dissolution, forms, and properties’ (anonymously), London, 1728, 8vo. 2. ‘Mount Caburn. A Poem humbly inscribed to her Grace the Dutchess of Newcastle,’ London, 1730, fol. 3. ‘Remarks on the Laws relating to the Poor; with Proposals for their better Relief and Employment. By a Member of Parliament. First published in 1735 … with an Appendix containing the Resolutions of the House of Commons on the same subject in 1735,’ &c., London, 1751, 8vo. 4. ‘Religio Philosophi, or the Principles of Morality and Christianity, illustrated from a View of the Universe and of Man's Situation in it,’ London, 1753, 8vo; 2nd edit., London 1754, 8vo; 3rd edit., London, 1760, 8vo; new edit., 1831, 8vo. 5. ‘Deformity; an Essay,’ London, 1754, 8vo; 2nd edit., London, 1754, 8vo. Reprinted in vol. i. of Dodsley's ‘Fugitive Pieces on Various Subjects by Several Authors’ in 1761, 1762, 1765, and 1771. 6. ‘The Immortality of the Soul. A Poem translated from the Latin of Isaac Hawkins Browne, Esq.,’ London, 1754, 4to. 7. ‘Martialis Epigrammata Selecta. Anglicè reddidit Gulielmus Hay, appendicem sibi vendicant Couleius et alii’ [Latin and English], London, 1755, 12mo; also in 8vo, with the English only.

[Preface to the Works of William Hay, 1794; Horsfield's Hist. of Lewes, 1824–7, i. 324–6, ii. 121–4; Lower's Sussex Worthies, pp. 235–40; Lower's Hist. of Sussex, i. 197; Gent. Mag. 1755, p. 284; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ii. 377, vi. 346–358, 643, viii. 520, 695, ix. 151; Official Return of Lists of Members of Parliament, pt. ii. pp. 69, 81, 94, 106, 119, 144, 156; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. F. R. B.