Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hay, Andrew Leith

HAY, Sir ANDREW LEITH (1785–1862), writer on architecture, was born at Aberdeen on 17 Feb. 1785. His father, Alexander Leith Hay, (1758–1838), formerly Alexander Leith, was appointed a lieutenant in the 7th dragoons immediately on his birth, captain 1768, and colonel in the army 1794. Upon the death of Andrew Hay in 1789 he inherited the estate of Rannes, Aberdeenshire, and assumed the additional surname of Hay, being descended from that family through his paternal grandmother. On 1 Oct. in the same year he was gazetted colonel of a regiment raised by himself and called by his name. He was promoted to be major-general 1796, lieutenant-general 1803, full general 1838, and died in August 1838 (Gent. Mag. 1838, ii. 321). He married in 1784 Mary, daughter of Charles Forbes of Ballogie; she died in 1824.

The eldest son, Andrew Leith, entered the army as an ensign in the 72nd foot on 8 Jan. 1806, went to the Peninsula in 1808 as aide-de-camp to his uncle, General Sir James Leith, and served through the war until 1814. He was much employed in gaining intelligence, and was present at many of the actions from Corunna to the storming of San Sebastian. Wherever he went he made sketches, and in 1831 worked up up these materials into two volumes, entitled ‘A Narrative of the Peninsula War.’ On General Leith being appointed to the governorship of Barbadoes in 1816, his nephew accompanied him, and discharged the duties of military secretary and also those of assistant quartermaster-general and adjutant-general. As captain in the 2nd foot he served from 21 Nov. 1817 to 30 Sept. 1819, when he was placed on half-pay. He had previously been named a knight commander of the order of Charles III of Spain, and a member of the Legion of Honour.

Having retired from the army he turned his attention to politics, took part in the agitation preceding the passing of the Reform Bill, and became member for the Elgin Burghs on 29 Dec. 1832. Shortly after entering parliament his readiness as a speaker and his acquaintance with military affairs attracted the notice of Lord Melbourne, who conferred on him the lucrative appointment of clerk of the ordnance on 19 June 1834, and also made him a knight of Hanover. On 6 Feb. 1838, on being appointed to the governorship of Bermuda, he resigned his seat in parliament. Circumstances, however, arose which prevented him from going to Bermuda, and on 7 July 1841 he was again elected for the Elgin burghs, and continued to sit till 23 July 1847. At the election in the following month he was displaced, nor was he successful when he contested the city of Aberdeen on 10 July 1852. To county matters he paid much attention, more especially to the affairs of the county of Aberdeen. His most interesting and useful book, entitled ‘The Castellated Architecture of Aberdeenshire,’ appeared in 1849. The work consists of lithographs of the principal baronial residences in the county, all from sketches by himself; the letterpress, which contains a great amount of information, being also from his pen. He died at Leith Hall, Aberdeenshire, on 13 Oct. 1862. His wife, whom he married in 1816, was Mary Margaret, daughter of William Clark of Buckland House, Devonshire; she died on 28 May 1859. His eldest son, Colonel Leith Hay, C.B., is well known by his service in the Crimea and India.

[Times, 17 Oct. 1862, p. 7; Gent. Mag. 1863, i. 112–13; Men of the Time, 1862, p. 371.]

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