HAYES, John (1643-1705), of Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1698 - 1700
Dec. 1701 - 1702

Family and Education

b. 25 Jan. 1643, 2nd s. of James Hayes of Beckington, Som. by Elizabeth; bro. of (Sir) James Hayes† of Bedgebury Park, Goudhurst, Kent.  m. 1674, Mehitobell or Mehetabela (d. 1681), da. and h. of John Otterington of Kilmeadan, co. Waterford, alderman of Dublin, 1da.1

Offices Held

Comptroller-gen. of revenue [I] 1671–8.2

MP [I] 1692–3, 1695–9.

Freeman, Winchelsea 1698.3


Hayes was the younger son of a minor Somerset gentleman. The progress of his early career owed much to his elder brother, a barrister who had been elected to Richard Cromwell’s Parliament and who subsequently was fortunate enough to have obtained employment as secretary to Prince Rupert. Within months of taking up this post in February 1666, James Hayes was able to secure for his younger brother a niche in the Irish prize office. Five years later, when the elder Hayes became a participant in the ‘Ranelagh undertaking’, the syndicate formed by Lord Ranelagh (Richard Jones*) to farm the Irish revenues, he nominated John as his deputy. At the same time, in August 1671, John was also given for himself the newly created office of comptroller-general of the Irish revenue, with a salary of £400. His chief responsibility in this post was to regularize the lax accounting procedures of existing farmers, but he failed to meet expectations and in July 1678 was dismissed when the Irish privy council reported to the King that Hayes had ‘not in any measure discharged the trust reposed in him’. Whether such censure was justified is unclear, but his position had probably not been helped by revelations the previous year that his brother had been involved in questionable subterfuges among the partners. Nevertheless, the attractions of revenue-farming as a money-making pursuit remained with him. In 1682 he discussed with the Earl of Tweeddale, a Scottish privy councillor with whom he and his brother were closely associated, a new scheme for a ‘general farm’ of all the Scottish revenues. In promoting the design he stressed the need to avoid appointing ‘strangers’, a situation which he believed seriously hampered the success of the farm currently operating in Ireland. It was imperative, he felt, that the commissioners nominate ‘persons they may be sure to call your own servants, better than having persons involved of whom nothing is known’. Hayes’s own assiduity in promoting the scheme at Whitehall must have received some encouragement for he was soon asking Tweeddale to buy and forward ‘all the necessary law books of Scotland’ and other material relating to the Scottish revenue. The plans had to be shelved, however, when the current managers secured a further term, and he seems not to have pursued them later. He did, however, acquire at some point a share in the unpopular aulnage farm, which he retained until his death. In the late 1680s and early 1690s he was engaged in an unpleasant legal wrangle with his father-in-law, John Otterington, a wealthy Dubliner, over non-payment of his late wife’s jointure. He successfully sued Otterington in Chancery for the £2,000 which he claimed he was owed, a verdict the House of Lords upheld in January 1693. The disagreement had probably been exacerbated in 1690 when Otterington provided a £3,000 portion for Hayes’s only daughter, whom Otterington himself had maintained and educated, on her marriage to Viscount Doneraile’s heir, Hon. Arthur St. Leger. Hayes strongly disapproved of the alliance, as having been effected ‘in a clandestine way’, but in August 1693 he was able to report to Lord Tweeddale that ‘all differences are composed’.4

It may have been with the hope of regaining a salaried position in the Irish administration that Hayes entered the newly convened Irish parliament in 1692 for Thomastown, co. Kilkenny, although in a letter to Tweeddale he gave the impression of being rather less purposeful: ‘mine own affairs requiring me to stay here till next term, I thought it not amiss (since we were to have a Parliament) to be in the House and accordingly I was elected for the borough of Thomastown.’ Attending the opening proceedings in October 1692, he was immensely impressed with the ability and skill which the young Henry Boyle* brought to the chair of the supply committee. But his failure to obtain further benefits from those in power seems to have made him sceptical about the conduct of government in Ireland. In January 1693 he wrote to Lord Tweeddale: ‘all we aim at is to strike one another – if we can do that ’tis enough, no matter what becomes of the public’; and in August: ‘I am in no other business but that of the aulnage, neither do I desire to be in any till I see better management and the world a little better settled.’ He found a new outlet for his financial interests in 1695 in helping to promote the Company of Scotland. The same year he was re-elected to the Irish parliament, this time for Doneraile, probably on the interest of his son-in-law, who was shortly to succeed to the Doneraile viscountcy. By 1698, however, he was turning his attention towards Westminster. Land which he had acquired in Winchelsea and its vicinity had provided him an interest in the port sufficient to gain friends among its minuscule electorate and to enable him to stand for election there without provoking a challenge. His principal residence was not in the immediate Winchelsea area, however, but at the family seat at Great Bedgebury, in the parish of Goudhurst, Kent, which his brother Sir James had acquired in the 1680s and which had since passed to Sir James’s young son, James*.5

During his first session at Westminster, Hayes’s Country scepticism was soon apparent, and in relation to the disbandment issue he was marked on a list of the Commons as likely to oppose a standing army. Later lists indicate that he was a Tory. He supervised the passage of a routine estate bill from the Lords during February and March 1700, and in the closing weeks of the session acted three times as teller. The most important of these divisions occurred on 26 Mar., on a motion to consider a committee report concerning the previous practice whereby absent MPs returned for more than one constituency had been permitted to declare their choice to the House in writing: Hayes told for the minority in favour, alongside a fellow Country supporter John Tredenham*. The compiler of an analysis of the ‘interests’ of the House, drawn up in this session, identified Hayes as belonging to a group of MPs supporting the Old East India Company. In the first election of 1701 he was defeated at Winchelsea, the victim of trickery and corruption by his opponents and their agents in the corporation. As a result of his and his partner’s petition against the return, the election was declared void, though the House withheld authorization of a fresh writ in the current session.6

Hayes’s recovery of his seat in the second general election of 1701 was regarded by Lord Spencer (Charles*) as a ‘loss’ for the Whigs, while further testimony of his Tory allegiance appears in his inclusion in a ‘white list’ of those who supported the motion of 26 Feb. 1702 vindicating the Commons’ proceedings the previous year in bringing impeachments against the Whig ministers. It was particularly appropriate in view of his recent electoral experience that he should be named to the committee appointed on 17 Jan. 1702 to prepare a bill for the prevention of bribery and corruption at elections. During the final weeks of the session in May he was actively involved in proceedings on a number of private bills to relieve various individuals from the effects of the Irish forfeiture measures, one of which concerned his brother’s widow, the former Viscountess Falkland. He was also a teller on 13 May in a minor division at the report on the bill for the prevention of frauds and abuses in the salt duties. Though he stood for re-election in 1702, Hayes found himself in danger of being very narrowly outpolled, but in a clever sleight of hand, just as the election was about to proceed, he withdrew, putting up his nephew James Hayes instead. His own vote brought the poll to an equality, before the casting vote of his friend the mayor secured his nephew’s election.7

Hayes died in March 1705 and was buried on the 22nd at the church of St. Giles-in-the-Fields. His chief legatee was his daughter, Viscountess Doneraile, to whom he left an annuity of £300, and to whose four children he left £1,000 apiece, while the residue of his estate, which presumably included Irish property, was left to her eldest son, Hon. Arthur St. Leger.8

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. Soc. of Geneal. Beckington par. reg. mic.; HMC Lords, iv. 251; CP, v. 241; PCC 148 Eedes.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1678, p. 316.
  • 3. E. Suss. RO, Winchelsea ct. bk. WIN 60, p. 58.
  • 4. L. Inn Black Bks. iii. 49; CSP Dom. 1666–7, pp. 37, 219; 1674–5, p. 123; 1678, p. 316; 1685, p. 463; Liber Munerum Publicorum Hiberniae ed. Lascelles, ii. 45; HMC Ormonde, n.s. iv. 527; NLS, ms 7009, ff. 77, 79–81, 105, 114, 125; 7015, f. 84; HMC Lords, iv. 251; PCC 148 Eedes.
  • 5. NLS, ms 7014, f. 167; 7015, ff. 6, 84; 7018, ff. 91, 113; Suss. Arch. Colls. xxxvii, 62–63; Her. and Gen. iii. 138–9.
  • 6. Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/2/4, James Lowther* to Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. I*, 27 Feb. 1701.
  • 7. Add. 29588, f. 102.
  • 8. St. Giles-in-the-Fields par. reg.; PCC 148 Eedes.