Hay, George (1787-1876) (DNB00)

HAY, GEORGE, eighth Marquis of Tweeddale (1787–1876), was born at Yester in Haddingtonshire on 1 Feb. 1787. He acceded to the title and estates on the death of his father (George, seventh marquis) in August 1804, having entered the army as an ensign in the previous June. In 1806 he went to Sicily, on the staff of the English general commanding there. Soon after obtaining his company, in May 1807, he joined Wellington's army in the Peninsula. He was made aide-de-camp, and was wounded at the battle of Busaco, 27 Sept. 1810. He subsequently became quartermaster-general, received his majority 14 May 1812, and was again wounded at Vittoria, 21 June 1813. He was at once promoted to be lieutenant-colonel, and went home invalided. As soon as his health was sufficiently restored he joined his regiment, then engaged in the American war. He was once more wounded in the action at Niagara in 1813, when, on refusing to surrender, he was with great difficulty taken alive by his humane enemies. After his return in 1814 the marquis saw no further active service, though he continued on the employed list, and rose through all the grades of the army, his later commissions being dated: colonel 27 May 1825, major-general 10 Jan. 1837, lieutenant-general 9 Nov. 1846, general 20 June 1854, and field-marshal 29 May 1875. He settled on his paternal estates in Haddingtonshire, and in 1824 was appointed lord-lieutenant of the county, where he spent the next eighteen years in the improvement of his estates and the discharge of his duties as a landed proprietor and county magnate. In 1842 he was made governor of Madras, and also, by special arrangement of the Duke of Wellington, commander-in-chief of the local army, then in need of reorganisation and discipline. After a useful tenure of office Tweeddale retired in 1848, when he returned to Yester, and resumed his agricultural pursuits. He led the way in tile-draining, in deep ploughing, and in many bold experiments, in the course of which he incurred considerable expense. He also showed an intelligent interest in the then infant science of meteorology and in mechanics, where his knowledge enabled him to invent machinery which has been found useful by farmers. His services were acknowledged in Scotland by election to the presidentship of the Agricultural and Highland Society.

Tweeddale was made a C.B. in 1815, a K.T. in 1820, K.C.B. in 1862, and G.C.B. in 1867. He was also gold-stick in waiting, and was successively colonel of the following regiments: 30th foot 1846, 42nd foot 1862, 2nd lifeguards 1863. He was likewise during many years a representative peer for Scotland. He was a man of conspicuous physique, and celebrated in the army as a horseman and sabreur. He was also an accomplished coachman, and is said to have once driven the mail from London to Haddington without a halt or relief. He died from an accident 10 Oct. 1876, aged 89, having married, 28 March 1816, Lady Susan Montagu, third daughter of the fifth Duke of Manchester; she died 5 March 1870. Tweeddale had by her seven sons and six daughters; his eldest son, George, earl of Gifford, died in 1862; his second, Arthur [q. v.], succeeded him, and is noticed separately.

[The Great Historical Families of Scotland, by James Taylor, M.A., London, 1887; Times, 11 Oct. 1876.]

H. G. K.