HAY, Thomas, Visct. Dupplin (1710-87).

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



26 Jan. - 21 Apr. 1736
1741 - 29 July 1758

Family and Education

b. 4 June 1710, 1st s. of George Hay, M.P., 8th Earl of Kinnoull [S], by Abigail, da. of Robert Harley, M.P., 1st Earl of Oxford. educ. Westminster 1718; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1726. m. 12 June 1741, Constantia (with £3,000 p.a.), da. and h. of John Kyrle Ernle of Whetham, Wilts., 1s. d.v.p. suc. fa. as 9th Earl 29 July 1758.

Offices Held

Commr. of revenue [I] Apr. 1741-6; ld. of Trade 1746-54; chairman of committee of privileges and elections 1747-58; ld. of Treasury 1754-5; jt. paymaster gen. 1755-7; chancellor of duchy of Lancaster 1758-62, recorder, Cambridge 1758-d.; P.C. 27 Jan. 1758; ambassador to Portugal 1759-62; chancellor of St. Andrews Univ. 1765-d.


Dupplin’s father, one of the twelve Tory peers created in 1711, was the brother-in-law of Lord Mar, who headed the Fifteen in Scotland, and the brother of one of the Pretender’s chief advisers. Arrested in 1715 with his father, the 7th Earl of Kinnoull, on suspicion of complicity in the rebellion, he was released on bail in 1717. In 1723, having succeeded to the earldom, he made overtures to Walpole,1 who appears to have accepted them, for when Dupplin went to Oxford he received an allowance from the King, procured by Walpole for his maintenance. By this time Lord Kinnoull was in such financial straits that Dupplin and his brother were unable to go up at the beginning of one term because their father could not provide the money for the journey.2 In 1728 Lord Kinnoull’s needs were relieved by his appointment as ambassador to Constantinople till 1734, when he was recalled under a cloud. On 20 Dec. 1740 Dupplin applied to Newcastle for the governorship of Barbados for his father, who,

having appropriated his estate in Scotland to the payment of his debts and that in York for the support of his numerous family, has reserved nothing for himself.3

The application was unsuccessful, but Lord Kinnoull was granted a secret service pension of £800 a year.4

In 1736 Dupplin, after accompanying his father to Constantinople, was put up for a vacancy at Scarborough by his first cousin, the 4th Duke of Leeds, on the recommendation of their common uncle and Leeds’s ex-guardian, Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford. Dupplin was a supporter of Walpole’s Administration, to which both his patrons were opposed, but Oxford argued that Leeds could not

expect that you can at present carry one of your own way of thinking without great expense - your interest is now but young. My Lord Dupplin will come in without opposition in all probability and as he is your relation and of your nomination you will put yourself at the head of the corporation and by that means you will establish an interest that you may always with ease maintain.5

In fact there was a contest at which Dupplin, by securing the returning officers, was declared elected, only to be unseated by the House of Commons on petition.

In 1741 Dupplin was again defeated at Scarborough but got himself returned unopposed for Cambridge, on the recommendation of Lord Oxford, high steward of the borough. A few days before his return Walpole, who had a high opinion of him, gave him an Irish place with a salary of £1,000 a year, from which he was promoted by Pelham to the board of Trade. Chosen to be chairman of the elections committee of the House at the opening of the next Parliament, he took a leading part in the proceedings on the Westminster petition at the beginning of the 1751 session. A month later, as a member of the board of Trade, he moved a grant-in-aid of the new colony of Nova Scotia in a long speech, of which Horace Walpole observed that Dupplin, ‘considering how fond he was of forms and trifles and being busy, was not absolutely a bad speaker’. Behind the scenes Pelham, as Newcastle afterwards (3 Jan. 1757) told Lady Yarmouth,

sachant son honneur, son intégrité, et sa capacité, lui confia toujours, sans réserve, tous les secrets, même les plus importants; et quand le Roy me fit l’honneur de m’appeler à la Trésorerie je fis le même, et je dois principalement à lui le peu de connaissance que j’ai dans les affaires des finances.6

In other words, Dupplin assisted Pelham in one of the most important duties of the first lord of the Treasury, the management of parliamentary elections; a matter so secret that Pelham always refused to discuss it even with Newcastle, who on succeeding his brother found himself dependent on Dupplin for information as to the arrangements made for the impending general election.

Though Dupplin earned the confidence of three prime ministers, the world at large, according to Lord Hardwicke, ‘opprobriously and injuriously’ thought him ‘an absolute fool’. Some light on this misconception is thrown by a letter from Hardwicke’s daughter-in-law describing

the incessant small talk of my good Lord Dupplin that flows and flows on as smoothly as ever and as uninterrupted in its course. He came here to dinner yesterday ... fought over the mutiny and sea bills at supper, and has instructed us this morning on the art of colonising and the affairs of Nova Scotia.7

Far from a fool, he probably owed his reputation of being one to the fact that the word for a bore had yet to be invented.

Faithful both to his patron and his principles - ‘il n’a jamais donné un seul vote pendant près de vingt ans que de la manière le Roy souhaitait’, Newcastle told Lady Yarmouth, ‘et j’ose dire qu’il ne le fera jamais de sa vie’8 - Dupplin resigned with Newcastle in 1762 but did not accompany him into opposition. He spent the rest of his life in retirement, planting trees on his estate in Scotland. He died 27 Dec. 1787.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. Coxe, Walpole, ii. 257.
  • 2. HMC Portland, vi. 26; vii. 445, 459.
  • 3. Add. 32695, f. 529.
  • 4. Namier, Structure, 222-3.
  • 5. 14 Sept. 1735, Harley mss 29, f. 106.
  • 6. Add. 58141, f. 341; 32870, ff. 9-14; Walpole, Mems. Geo. II, i. 16, 27, 63; Add. 32870, ff. 9-14.
  • 7. Newcastle, 13 Oct. 1753, Add. 32733, f. 781; Hardwicke to Newcastle, 13 Oct. 1755, Add. 32860, ff. 30-34; Add. 35376, ff. 19-20.
  • 8. Add. 32870, ff. 8-14.