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Clan Hay

Clan Hay are a Scottish chiefly family who hold the title of Earls of Erroll.


This family descend from a member of the de La Haye, Norman princes who followed William the Conqueror to England in 1066. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 164</ref>The family name is derived from that of several villages called La Haye in the Cotentin peninsula of Normandy, France. <ref>G. F. Black, The surnames of Scotland- their Origin, Meaning and History, 350</ref> William de La Haye came from the village of Haye in La Manche and was butler to William the Lion. <ref>David Doward, Dictionary of Scottish Surnames,137</ref> The lands of Erroll in Perthshire were confirmed to William de Haya by charter around 1172. <ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 163</ref> There is also a Hay family tradition called the 'Legend of Luncarty' - which is an origin myth and was most likely invented by Hector Boece in his Scotorium Historia, (1525).


Middle Ages

Sir Gilbert Hay became a close associate of Robert the Bruce and was rewarded with the lands of Slains in Aberdeenshire, and more importantly with the office of Lord High Constable of Scotland in 1309.<ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 163</ref> In 1314 the title was made hereditary and is still held by the current Earl of Erroll, Merlin Hay (b.1948). <ref>http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2008/apr/10/egovernment.hitechcrime?gusrc=rss&feed=technology</ref><ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 163</ref> This honor gives the holder precedence over any other in Scotland apart from the royal family. The Lord High Constable was responsible for the king's bodyguard and was sword bearer at coronations.<ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 163</ref> He maintained a royal guard called the Durward of Partisans.<ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 163</ref>

Sir Thomas Haye, seventh Baron of Erroll, further increased the status of the family by marrying Elizabeth, daughter of Robert II.<ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 163</ref>The family were also descended from Celtic Kings, through the marriages of David de La Haye to Ethna, daughter of the Earl of Strathearn, and of Gilbert, third Baron of Erroll, to Idoine, daughter of the Earl of Buchan.<ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 163</ref>

Another Sir Gilbert Hay fought for the cause of Joan of Arc and attended the coronation of Charles VII of France at Rheims. <ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 163</ref>From this knight descend the Hays of Delgatie, whose castle near Turriff is now restored as the Clan Centre.


The Hays did not embrace the Reformation, but in consort with other Catholic nobles, including the Gordons and the Red Douglases, negotiated with Philip II of Spain in the hope of bringing about an alliance. A campaign against the Protestant nobles, led by Argyll in 1594, ultimately led to James VI's declaring both Erroll and Huntly rebels, and they went into exile. <ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 163</ref> Slains Castle was taken and blown up under the personal supervision of the king, and it has remained a ruin ever since. <ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 163</ref> A brief period of exile convinced Erroll of the wisdom of converting to the reformed religion, and he returned to Scotland and to royal favour. <ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 163</ref>

Old Slains Castle

His relations with the Kirk, however, were not so amicable. The reality of his conversion was disputed, and on 21 May 1608 he was confined to the city of Perth for the better resolution of his doubts, being subsequently declared an obstinate "papist", excommunicated, deprived of his estate, and imprisoned at Dumbarton; and after some further vacillation was finally released in May 1611. Lord Erroll died on 16 July 1631, and was buried in the church of Slains.

Seventeenth Century

Sir William Hay of Delgatie served with Montrose as chief of staff during his campaign on behalf of Charles I. <ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 165</ref> On the defeat of the royalist party, he was captured and imprisoned, finally being executed in 1650. Delgatie, having shared the fate of his commander, was accorded a state funeral after the Restoration, and is buried in St Giles' in Edinburgh. The estate was formally inherited by his son, Charles, on 24 April 1705. Charles, 13th Earl, took his Parliamentary seat at the end of June 1705 but was a prisoner in Edinburgh Castle from 1708; he died aged 40 years on 16 October 1717.The eleventh Earl of Erroll- a contemporary of Charles II- is said to lived in such extravagance that the Erroll estates in Perthshire had to be sold. <ref>Tom Johnston, Our Scots Noble Families, 119</ref>

John, twelfth Earl of Erroll (d.1704) became a Burgess of Perth and Aberdeen from October 1672 and was the Sheriff principal of Aberdeen from the beginning of May 1685. Papers of William II give an indication of the extensive lands owned by the Earl of Erroll in October 1700. The ratification includes areas of land at Turriff, Banff, Slains, Pitmedden, Crimond including Crimonmogate and several other places. Slains Castle is recorded as the principal family residence. <ref>"Ratification in favour of John Hay, earl of Erroll". Records of the Parliaments of Scotland. Archived from the original on 30 September 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2013.</ref>

Eighteenth Century

His son, Charles, thirteenth Earl (d.1717) was awarded the Order of the Thistle from James VIII 'The Old Pretender'- but spent much of his career imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle. The Hays had come out in the Jacobite Rising of 1715. <ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 165</ref> He was succeeded by his sister, Mary, who was also a strong Jacobite. In 1745 she raised an army of Buchan men for Prince Charles Edward Stuart. She revelled in Jacobite intrigue and used the ruins of Slains Castle as a meeting point for Jacobite agents. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 165</ref> Despite her involvement in the 1745 Rising, the Countess of Erroll received £1,200 for in compensation for the regality of Slains, on the abolition of heritable jurisdictions in 1746.<ref>Tom Johnston, Our Scots Noble Families, 119</ref>

On her death in 1758 the title passed to her great nephew, James Boyd ,whose father the Jacobite Earl of Kilmarnock had been executed for treason in 1746.<ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 165</ref> The Kilmarnock title had been forfeited, so James Boyd assumed the surname of Erroll and the chiefship of the clan. <ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 165</ref>

Nineteenth Century

In 1820 William Hay, 18th Earl of Erroll (d.1778) married Lady Elizabeth FitzClarence, the illegitimate daughter of King William IV and Dorothea Jordan. <ref>Lodge, Edmund (1851). The Peerage of the British Empire as at Present Existing. Saunders and Otley. p. 222.</ref> He embarked on a substantial building programme at New Slains, the family castle in Aberdeenshire. <ref>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Slains_Castle</ref> Hay was also Lord High Constable during the visit of George IV to Edinburgh in 1822 and was nearly ruined by the cost of the celebrations.<ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 165</ref> The nineteenth Earl fought in the Crimean War and was wounded at the Battle of Alma in 1854. <ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 165</ref> Charles Hay (1852-1927) fought in the Boer War, commanded the Household Cavalry and was a lord-in-waiting to Edward IIV.<ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 165</ref>

Twentieth Century

By the early twentieth century the Aberdeenshire estates were under serious financial pressure due to inflation and taxation following the First World War.<ref>http://www.clanhay.org/history/the-house-of-erroll/</ref> Charles Hay (d.1927) sold Slains in 1916 and ended a 600 year association with the area.<ref>http://www.clanhay.org/history/the-house-of-erroll/</ref> His son, Victor Hay, Lord Kilmarnock, was a diplomat. Josslyn Hay, twenty-second Earl, emmigrated to Kenya and became the victim of a notorious murder in 1941.<ref>http://www.clanhay.org/history/the-house-of-erroll/</ref> The episode focused public attention on the hedonistic lifestyles of the wealthy residents of 'Happy Valley'. <ref>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josslyn_Hay,_22nd_Earl_of_Erroll</ref>

He was succeeded by his daughter, Diana, 23rd Countess. In 1957 she purchased the ruins of the old Slains Castle which had been reduced by James VI in 1594, where she built a family home. In 1950 Diana Hay founded the Clan Hay society.<ref> Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 165</ref> On her death in 1978, she was succeeded by her eldest son, Merlin, 24th Earl of Erroll, 28th hereditary Lord High Constable of Scotland, and 32nd Chief of Clan Hay. Merlin Hay is a programmer and system designer as well as one of the few remaining hereditary members of the House of Lords. In 2008 the Earl of Erroll was spokesman for the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee's report on personal internet security. <ref>http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2008/apr/10/egovernment.hitechcrime?gusrc=rss&feed=technology</ref>


The following names are said to be associated with the Clan Hay, either as whole names which are part of the clan (eg. Turriff) or which are connected through some ancient instrument such as a Bond of Manrent (eg. Leask.)<ref>http://www.clanhay.org/septs/</ref>

  • Alderston
  • Ayer
  • Bagra
  • Beagrie
  • Conn (Aberdeenshire only)
  • Constable
  • Delahaye
  • Delgaty
  • Du Plessis
  • Dupplin
  • Errol
  • Garrow
  • Geary
  • Gifford
  • Hayden
  • Haye
  • Hayes
  • Hayle
  • Haynes
  • Hays
  • Hayton
  • Hayward
  • Hey
  • Hye
  • Kinnoul
  • Laxfirth
  • Leith
  • Locherworth
  • Logie
  • Leask
  • Macara
  • MacGaradh
  • McKester
  • Peebles
  • Phillips (Aberdeenshire only)
  • Slains
  • Turriff
  • Tweeddale
  • Yester
  • Zester