The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Hay, Hon. Sir John

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Hay, Hon. Sir John, K.C.M.G., M.L.C., late President of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, was the son of the late John Hay, of Little Ythsie, Aberdeenshire, and was born in June 1816. He was educated at King's College, Aberdeen, where he had a brilliant career and took his degree in 1834. After studying for the legal profession in Edinburgh, he decided to emigrate to Australia, arriving in Sydney in 1828, when he settled as a squatter at Walaregang, on the Upper Murray. He was engaged in pastoral pursuits in this locality until 1867, but in the meantime found leisure to devote considerable attention to politics, being returned unopposed to the first Legislative Assembly of New South Wales under responsible government, for the Murrumbidgee district, in 1856. In September of that year he moved the vote of want of confidence in the Cowper Ministry which compelled their retirement from office, and was sent for by the Governor to form an alternative Administration. This, however, he declined to do, and recommended that recourse should be had to Mr. (afterwards Sir) H. Watson Parker, who succeeded in forming a Cabinet, in which Mr. Hay accepted the post of Minister of Lands and Works. In Sept. 1857 Mr. (afterwards Sir Charles) Cowper had his revenge, the Parker Ministry being thrown out on an amendment which he moved to the second reading of their Electoral Bill. Mr. Hay represented the Murrumbidgee in the Assembly till April 1859. He sat for the Murray till Nov. 1864, when he was elected for Central Cumberland, which he represented till he left the Assembly. In Parliament he strongly opposed the Selection before Survey clause of the Land Act of 1861; and a hostile amendment, which he carried in the Assembly in Oct. 1860, was the cause of an appeal to the constituencies, which resulted in a large majority being obtained for Mr. Robertson's proposals. Later on he supported the Fencing Bill, as likely "to take the sting out of Free Selection." From Oct. 1862 to Oct. 1865, Mr. Hay held the position of Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, when, finding the duties too onerous, he resigned. In June 1867 he was nominated to the Legislative Council, and on the death of Sir Terence Aubrey Murray, in July 1873, was appointed President, a position he held till his death. He was created K.C.M.G. in 1877, and was Chairman of the Mercantile Bank of Sydney. He died in 1891. Sir John married in Feb. 1838 Mary, daughter of James Chalmers and Mary his wife.