Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cay, John

CAY, JOHN (1700–1757), editor of the ‘Statutes,’ third son of John Cay of North Charlton, Northumberland, by Grace, daughter and coheiress of Henry Wolff of Bridlington, Yorkshire, was born in 1700 (Burke, Landed Gentry, 1868, p. 225). Intended for the legal profession he was entered at Gray's Inn on 3 Sept. 1719, called to the bar by that society on 20 June 1724, and subsequently made a bencher (Gray's Inn Admission Register). In 1750 he was appointed steward and one of the judges of the Marshalsea (Gent. Mag. xx. 429). Cay, as a classical antiquary, was admitted in August 1736 to the Society of Antiquaries. Together with his brother Robert, a merchant at Newcastleupon-Tyne, who died on 22 April 1754 (Gent. Mag. xxiv. 243), he was the friend and correspondent of John Horsley, and upon Horsley's death in January 1732, the brothers were indefatigable in their endeavours to promote the sale and collect the proceeds of the ‘Britannia Romana’ for Mrs. Horsley's benefit (Stukeley, Diaries and Letters, Surtees Soc. ii. 143 n.) Cay died at his house in Essex Street, Strand, on 11 April 1757 (Gent. Mag. xxvii. 189; Will reg. in P. C. C. 114, Herring). By his wife Sarah, daughter of Henry Boult of Gray's Inn and Reading, he left a son, Henry, and two daughters. The year following his death there appeared ‘The Statutes at Large, from Magna Charta to the 30th Geo. II,’ 6 vols. folio, London, 1758. This edition, which has been justly praised for its learning and accuracy, was continued by Owen Ruffhead to 13 Geo. III, 3 vols. folio, London, 1769–73. Cay had previously published ‘Abridgment of the Publick Statutes, in force and use, from Magna Charta to the 11th Geo. II,’ 2 vols. folio, London, 1739, which was continued by supplements by his son, Henry Boult Cay. In 1762 a second edition in two volumes was published, and in 1766 a supplemental volume, containing the statutes from 11 Geo. II to 1 Geo. III. Cay's ‘Abridgment’ used to be continued by the abstracts of acts to 35 Geo. III, after which period they were not printed.

Henry Boult Cay, who completed his father's labours, was educated at Clare College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1752 as second wrangler, and obtained a fellowship, which he vacated by his marriage, in August 1770, to Miss Stawel Piggot of Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire. Called to the bar at the Middle Temple, he afterwards filled several minor legal offices, and died at his residence in Cursitor Street on 24 Jan. 1795, leaving two daughters (Gent. Mag. xl. 392, lxv. i. 171, lxvi. i. 166.

[Manuscript note by H. B. Cay in J. Cay's annotated copy of Rolle's Abridgment in Brit. Mus.; Burke's Commoners, i. 384–5; Hodgson's Northumberland, pt. ii. vol. ii. 442; Hutchinson's Northumberland, i. 148–9, 173, 199; Marvin's Legal Bibliography, p. 180.]

G. G.