HAY, Sir John, 6th bt. (1788-1838).
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Family and Education
b. 3 Aug. 1788, 3rd but 1st surv. s. of Sir John Hay, 5th bt., banker, of Edinburgh and Hon. Mary Elizabeth Forbes, da. of James, 16th Lord Forbes [S]; bro. of Adam Hay*. educ. adv. 1811. m. 6 Oct. 1821, Anne, da. of Capt. George Preston, s.p. suc. fa. as 6th bt. 23 May 1830. d. 1 Nov. 1838.
Hay’s grandfather James Hay, the son of John Hay of Haystoun, near Peebles and his first wife Grisel Thompson, was a physician in Edinburgh. His younger brother Adam Hay served in the army, 1747-68, and was Member for Peeblesshire, 1767-8 and 1775, when he died deep in debt. Dr. James Hay, who had succeeded his father in 1762, bought Adam’s estate of Soonhope and acquired other Peeblesshire property. In 1804 he claimed the baronetcy of Hay of Smithfield, dormant since the death of his grandfather’s degenerate third cousin, Sir James Hay, 3rd baronet, in about 1683; and on 9 Nov. 1805 he established before a jury in Peebles that he was entitled to assume it.1 His son John Hay, born in 1755, was in 1774 apprenticed in the Edinburgh banking house of Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, his sister Elizabeth’s husband. He became a partner in the firm of Forbes, Hunter and Company in 1782, married into the Scottish aristocracy in 1785, built a house at Kingsmeadows, Peebles and accumulated much property in the burgh. He succeeded to the assumed baronetcy in 1810 and was one of the ‘quiet country gentlemen set’ of Edinburgh society.2
His eldest surviving son John Hay was bred to the Scottish bar, but achieved no distinction there. He was in Greece in April 1819 and so out of contention for an opening for Linlithgow Burghs. He succeeded to the baronetcy and entailed estates in May 1830.3 On a vacancy for Peeblesshire in the summer of 1831 he offered, without disclosing his views on parliamentary reform, and came in unopposed.4 He voted with the Tory opposition to censure the Irish administration’s interference in the Dublin election, 23 Aug. 1831. He divided against the third reading, 19 Sept., and passage, 21 Sept., of the Grey ministry’s English reform bill, and the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept. On 4 Oct. he denounced this as ‘a ten-pronged fork, of vulgar fashion’ and condemned the proposal to throw the burgh of Peebles into the county. He secured returns of information on excise duties on spirits, 7, 10 Oct. He was absent from the division on the second reading of the revised English reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, but voted against going into committee on it, 20 Jan., and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He divided against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., and was in the minority of 41 against the malt drawback bill, 2 Apr. He repeated his objection to the arrangement for Peebles, 1 June, made a suggestion for rewording the £10 freeholder clause of the Scottish reform bill, ‘a gratuitous insult to the gentry of Scotland’, 4 June, and supported an attempt to debar Scottish clergymen from voting, 6 June. He was given a month’s leave to attend to urgent private business, 29 June 1832.
Hay’s confidence in his chances of being returned for Peeblesshire at the 1832 general election proved to be justified, and he sat for the county as a Conservative until his retirement in 1837.5 He died in Rome in November 1838, and was succeeded in the baronetcy by his next surviving brother Adam Hay.