Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hayes, William (fl.1794)

HAYES, WILLIAM (fl. 1794), artist and ornithologist, published: 1. ‘A Natural History of British Birds, &c., with their Portraits accurately drawn and beautifully coloured,’ fol. 1775. Only a few birds are treated, and chiefly those of bright plumage. Three plates of rare Eastern pheasants are introduced, evidently owing to their glow of colour, and a few ducks, of which he probably obtained specimens from some pond where they were domesticated. Short Latin and longer English descriptions are appended. 2. ‘Portraits of Rare and Curious Birds, with their Descriptions, from the Menagery of Osterly Park,’ 2 vols. 4to, 1794. Vol. i. is dedicated to Pennant, and vol. ii. to the Rev. G. H. Glasse. The colouring of these plates is usually better than the forms of the birds, but it is frequently too bright and crude. The book is of no scientific value, and contains forty-two plates, mostly of rare exotic species, which offer scope for brilliancy of treatment. There is a curious notice in it of bustards being ‘found frequently,’ even in 1794, on Salisbury Plain, sometimes in troops of fifty or more. The British Museum possesses a folio volume of twenty-nine plates of birds by Hayes, and others, published in 1773. It has neither title-page nor descriptions, and seems to have belonged to Sir J. Banks. It consists of different plates by Hayes bound together. The birds are of unequal merit, and are first etched, then hand-coloured.

Hayes was living in 1794 at Southall, Middlesex, and in 1799 the Rev. G. H. Glasse published ‘An Appeal to the Public’ on behalf of this ‘ingenious artist.’ He states that for some time Hayes had been in great distress, as his income scarcely ever exceeded 90l. per annum. This had proved altogether unequal to support twenty-one children, ten of whom were still living, and, with the exception of the eldest daughter, unable to support themselves, while the eldest son had been a cripple from infancy. Hayes himself was sorely afflicted by illness. The Literary Fund and the dean and chapter of Canterbury sent liberal subscriptions in response to the appeal. Some of Hayes's children helped him in his illustrations.

[Hayes's Works; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. 1815, ix. 228–30; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

M. G. W.