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The Great Historic Families of Scotland
The Hays of Kinnoul


THE HAYS OF KINNOUL are descended from a common ancestor with the Earls of Errol. The titles of Earl of Kinnoul, Viscount of Dupplin, and Baron Hay of Kinfauns, were conferred, in 1633, upon Sir George Hay, youngest son of Peter Hay of Megginch. He was born in 1572, and studied for six years in the Scots College at Douay, under his uncle, the well-known Father Hay, who was Professor of Civil and Canon Law in that seminary. He returned to Scotland about 1596, and obtained the office of a gentleman of the bedchamber to King James, who bestowed upon him the commendam of the Charter-house of Perth, and the church lands of Errol. He was present with James at Gowrie House, Perth, when the Earl of Gowrie and his brother were killed, and obtained the lands of Nethercliff out of that nobleman’s forfeited estates. In the year 1616 he was nominated Clerk Registrar, and was made a Lord of Session; and in 1622 he was raised to the office of Lord High Chancellor of Scotland. He was elevated to the peerage in 1627, by the titles of Viscount of Dupplin and Lord Hay of Kinfauns, and on the 25th May, 1633, he was raised by Charles I. to the rank of Earl of Kinnoul, immediately before the coronation of the King. This mark of royal favour did not, however, render him unduly compliant to his Majesty’s wishes. One of the objects which Charles had in view at his coronation was to increase the power and prominence of the hierarchy, and with this view he sent Sir James Balfour, Lyon King-at-Arms, to the Chancellor, to inform him that it was his Majesty’s pleasure that he should give precedence for that day to the Archbishop of St. Andrews. Lord Kinnoul, however, replied to this order, with proper spirit and firmness, that ‘since his Majesty had been pleased to continue him in that office, which by his means his worthy father, of happy memory, had conferred on him, he was ready, in all humility, to lay it at his Majesty’s feet. But, since it was his royal will he should enjoy it with the various privileges pertaining to the office, never a stoled priest in Scotland should set a foot before him while his blood was hot.’ When this courageous reply of the old Chancellor was reported to the King, he said, ‘Well, Lyon, I will meddle no further with that old cankered, goutish man, at whose hands there is nothing to be gained but soure words.’

Lord Kinnoul died at London, 16th December, 1634, and was interred in the parish church of Kinnoul, where a marble monument, with his statue, was erected to his memory.

Peter, the elder of the Earl’s two sons, predeceased him, and GEORGE, the younger, became second Earl of Kinnoul. He was nominated a Privy Councillor to Charles I., and was Captain of the Guard to that sovereign from 1632 to 1635. At the breaking out of the Great Civil War he embraced the royal cause, but died soon after, in 1644. His only son, WILLIAM, the third Earl, was a staunch Royalist, and joined Montrose in his ill-fated expedition to Scotland in 1650. After his total defeat at Drumcarbisdale, the Earl accompanied his leader and Major Sinclair in their flight from the field into the wild mountain district of Assynt. The privations endured by them from fatigue and the want of food became insupportable. On the morning of the third day Lord Kinnoul grew so faint, and his strength was so exhausted by hunger and cold, that he could proceed no farther. He was, therefore, necessarily left by his distracted and enfeebled companions without shelter or protection of any kind on the exposed heath. Major Sinclair volunteered to go in search of assistance to the Earl, while Montrose went off alone towards the Reay country. They both fell into the hands of their enemies, but as they could give no accurate directions as to the spot where Lord Kinnoul had been left, that nobleman, whose body was never found, must have perished in some recess among the mountains.

GEORGE and WILLIAM, the sons of this ill-fated Earl, held in succession the family titles and estates, and both died without issue. Earl William, however, obtained a new patent in favour of his kinsman, THOMAS HAY, Viscount of Dupplin, a descendant of Peter Hay, brother of the first Earl, who became sixth Earl of Kinnoul. He represented Perthshire in the Scottish Parliament of 1693, and was created Viscount of Dupplin by William III. in 1697. He was one of the Commissioners for the Union, and gave that measure his steady support; but as he was the brother-in-law of the Earl of Mar, and was visited by him at Dupplin, on his way to the north to raise the standard of rebellion, Lord Kinnoul was regarded as a suspected person, and was committed prisoner to the castle of Edinburgh till after the suppression of the rebellion. He died in 1717. Colonel John Hay, the youngest of his three sons, accompanied the leader of the insurrection from London to Braemar, and proclaimed the Chevalier at Perth. After the collapse of the rebellion, Colonel Hay repaired to the Court of the exiled family, in which he held a post, and was created by the Chevalier titular Earl of Inverness. The intrigues and jealousies of Hay and his wife, a daughter of the fifth Viscount Stormont, led to endless disagreements and quarrels in the household of the Chevalier, and caused the Princess Sobieski, his wife, to retire for a time into a convent. In the end, the Chevalier was constrained, by the representations of some influential Jacobites, to dismiss Hay from his service.

GEORGE, the eldest son of Earl Thomas, became seventh Earl of Kinnoul. He was a supporter of Harley, afterwards Earl of Oxford, whose daughter he married, and was one of the twelve British peers created by that intriguing politician to secure a majority in the House of Lords for his administration. His Jacobite inclinations were so well known, that on the breaking out of the rebellion of 1715, he was taken into custody, and was kept in confinement from 21st September till the 24th of the following June. He was afterwards reconciled to the Court, and, in 1729, was appointed ambassador to Constantinople, where he remained till 1737. He died in 1758, leaving by his wife, Lady Abigail Harley, four sons and six daughters. Robert Hay, his second son, assumed the name of Drummond as the heir of entail of his great-grandfather, the first Viscount of Strathallan, who settled the estates of Cromlex and Innerpeifrey on the second son of the Earl of Kinnoul. Robert Hay Drummond entered into holy orders, and became in succession rector of Bothal in Northumberland, a Prebendary of Westminster, Bishop of St. Asaph, Bishop of Salisbury, and, finally, Archbishop of York.

THOMAS, eldest son of the seventh Earl, born in 1710, succeeded his father in the family honours and estates. When a commoner he was member for Cambridge, and held in succession the offices of a Lord of the Treasury, Joint Paymaster of the Forces, and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. In 1759 he was sent as Ambassador-Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary. to the Court of Lisbon. But in 1762 he resigned all his public offices and retired to his estate in Scotland. In 1765 he was elected Chancellor of the University of St. Andrews, and, in 1768, was chosen President of the Scottish Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge. He died at Dupplin in 1787, in the seventy-eighth year of his age.

His only son having died in infancy, he was succeeded by his nephew, ROBERT HAY DRUMMOND, eldest son of the Archbishop of York, of whom there is nothing special to record. He was Lord Lyon King-at-Arms, and, like his uncle, was President of the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge. He died in 1804. His eldest son—

THOMAS DRUMMOND HAY, born in 1785, became tenth Earl, was appointed Lord Lyon King-at-Arms in 1804, and Lord-Lieutenant of Perthshire in 1830. The only memorable act in his long career was his lending his name as patron to the suit in the celebrated Auchterarder case, which led to the disruption of the Established Church of Scotland. He died in 1866, aged eighty-one.

The present Earl, who was born in 1827, married, in 1848, a daughter of the Duke of Beaufort, and has a numerous family.

The Kinnoul estates, which lie in Perthshire, extend to 12,577 acres, with a rental of £14,814.


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