HAY, William (1695-1755), of Glyndebourne, Suss.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



25 Jan. 1734 - 19 June 1755

Family and Education

b. 21 Aug. 1695, o. surv. s. of William Hay of Glyndebourne by Barbara, da. of Sir John Stapley, 1st Bt., M.P., of Patcham, Suss. educ. Lewes g.s. 1710-12; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1712; M. Temple 1715, called 1723; Grand Tour (France, Germany, Holland) 1720. m. 1731, Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Pelham, M.P., of Catsfield Place, Suss., 3s. 2da. suc. fa. 1695.

Offices Held

Commr. for victualling the navy 1738-47; keeper of the records in the Tower of London 1754-d.


Hay was returned for Seaford by the Duke of Newcastle, his cousin by marriage, on whose behalf he canvassed energetically at Sussex elections. In spite of physical disabilities - he was a hunchbacked dwarf - he took an active part in the Commons, where he voted with the Government in every recorded division. Making his first reported speech against an opposition place bill in Feb. 1734, he spoke for the Government on the army in 1735, when he published a criticism of the poor law, stating that

every parish is in a state of expensive war with all the rest of the nation, regards the poor of all other places as aliens, and cares not what becomes of them if it can but banish them from its own society. No good therefore is ever to be expected till parochial interest and settlements are destroyed, till the poor are taken out of the hands of the overseers and put under the management of persons wiser and more disinterested, and till they be set to work on a national, or at least a provincial fund, to arise from benefactions and the labour of the poor, as far as they will go, and what more is wanting to be levied by an equal tax.

In 1736 and 1737 he introduced bills for implementing his proposals, but failed to carry them through the House.1 He also spoke ‘with wit’ against a bill for preventing clandestine marriages in 1736 and again on the army, 1737 and 1738.2 Appointed to the victualling board in 1738, he defended himself and his colleagues against charges of neglect in 1740. When in 1747 his office became incompatible with a seat in the Commons under the Place Act, 1742, he gave it up for a secret service pension of £500 a year, which ceased on his appointment to be keeper of the records in the Tower in 1754.3 In December 1747 he brought in a bill for the better relief of the poor by voluntary charities which passed the Commons but was lost in the Lords. The author of a number of works in verse as well as in prose, including an essay on deformity, he died 22 June 1755.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Remarks on the Laws relating to the Poor, with proposals for their better Relief and Employment, 1751; CJ, xxii. 607, 746; xxv. 464.
  • 2. HMC Egmont Diary, ii. 257, 350.
  • 3. Add. 33038, f. 352.