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HAY, Sir JOHN (d. 1654) of Lands and Barra, Scottish judge, son of William Hay, portioner of Barra and commissary of Glasgow (d. 1608), by Margaret, daughter of Hay of Monton, was employed while a very young man by the town of Edinburgh to prepare a Latin oration of welcome in honour of King James VI (see Muses' Welcome). He became town-clerk of Edinburgh. At the beginning of 1633 he succeeded Sir John Hamilton of Magdalen as lord clerk register, and also as extraordinary lord on 8 Jan. He had been a staunch supporter of prelacy, and this promotion was probably obtained for him by the archbishop of St. Andrews. On 7 Jan. 1634 he succeeded Sir Robert Spotiswood as an ordinary lord. In September 1637 he was made provost of Edinburgh against the wish of the townsmen, in order that he might support the new service book. In this capacity he endeavoured to prevent the town from petitioning against the prayer-book, and a series of riots ensued with which Hay was quite unable to cope. Shortly afterwards Hay, who had also supported the claims of the bishops to seats in the privy council, fled to England from the popular indignation and resigned all his offices (Guthrie, Memoirs, p. 27; Omond, Lord Advocates of Scotland, i. 118). Five thousand pounds was granted him by way of compensation for this loss, with 400l. a year until the principal sum should be paid. In 1641 he returned with the king to Scotland, was charged with treason in promoting dissension between the king and his subjects, and was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle from 20 Aug. to 16 Nov., when he was released on finding security for his good behaviour. In January and February 1642, he, with Sir Robert Spotiswood, lord president, and others, was tried by a parliamentary committee, but nothing being proved against him he was liberated, although he and the lord president lost their offices. After the trial the Scots parliament referred the matter to the king, who in a letter from Winchester, 24 Sept. 1642, pronounced Hay innocent. He joined Montrose and was taken prisoner at Philiphaugh. His life was saved (13 Sept. 1645) by the intervention of the Earl of Lanark, to whom he had granted his rents during his lifetime. He then retired to Duddingstone, near Edinburgh, where he died 20 Nov. 1654. He left a large family. A grandson, Richard Augustine Hay, is separately noticed.

[Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice; MS. Memoirs of Father Hay, Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, pp. 105, 107; Books of Sederunt; Acts Scots Parl. v. 365, 455, 494; Sir James Balfour's Annals, ii. 193; Gardiner's Hist. of England, viii. 320–4.]

J. A. H.