This important Scottish line originated from the Norman princes de La Haye who were part of William the Conqueror's army that swept into England in 1066. Members of the family were in Scotland in the 12th century - William de La Haye were cup bearers to King Malcolm IV who reigned between 1153 and 1165 and William de Haya was given the charter to lands around Errol a few years later.
As a close supporter of Robert the Bruce> during the earlier years when success was by no means assured, led to Sir Gilbert Hay being rewarded with land at Slains in Aberdeenshire and the appointment of Lord High Constable of Scotland in 1309. The title was made hereditary a few years later. The family still hold that title, giving them precedence in Scotland immediately after the royal family.
Sir Robert Hay, the 7th Baron of Erroll, married Elizabeth, daughter of King Robert II and marriages to the daughters of the Earl of Strathearn and Earl of Buchan by other Hays increased the stature of the family still further.
In the 15th century, Sir Gilbert Hay fought in support of Joan of Arc and was at the coronation of King Charles VII of France. His descendants became the Hays of Delgatie and his castle near Turriff in Aberdeenshire is now the Hay Clan Centre. Sir Gilbert was killed along with King James IV> and many other Scottish nobles and soldiers at the Battle of Flodden in 1513.
The Hays supported Mary Queen of Scots> and rejected the Reformation. The Hays, Gordons and Red Douglases were involved in negotiations with Philip II of Spain and campaigned against Protestant nobles. The forces of King James VI> attacked Delgatie and Slains Castle - the latter castle was blown up and has been a ruin ever since.
The Hays supported the Stewart monarchs in the 17th century and Sir William Hay joined the forces of the Marquis of Montrose in Scotland and was his standard bearer. He was executed with Montrose in Edinburgh in 1650 and was buried in St Giles Cathedral> in Edinburgh with a state funeral after the Restoration.
The Hays supported the Jacobite Uprisings of both 1715 and 1745 and the 13th Earl was awarded the Order of the Thistle by "James VIII" - the Old Pretender.
The 18th earl was Lord High Constable of Scotland during the lavish state visit by King George IV to Scotland in 1822 which was orchestrated by Sir Walter Scott>. The cost of the entertainment nearly bankrupted the Hays.
The 19th Earl was concerned for the well being of the fishing communities in Aberdeenshire and founded the village of Port Erroll, providing housing at low rents.
Another branch of the family was the Hays of Yester who rose to become Marqesses of Tweeddale in the Scottish Borders. The Hay mansion near Gifford in East Lothian was designed by Robert Adam>.
The Hay clan motto is "Serva jugum" which means "Keep the yoke".
Surnames regarded as septs (sub-branch) of the Hay clan include Arrol, Constable and Gifford.
Hay was the 100th most frequent surname at the General Register Office> in 1995.
There is a Hay clan Web site here>.
Return to Index of Clans/Family Histories.
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