Haya, Gilbert de (DNB00)

HAYA, Sir GILBERT de (d. 1330), lord high constable of Scotland, descended from William de Haya, who was king's butler to William the Lion, and obtained from him the lands of Errol in Perthshire. His grandfather, Gilbert de Haya, was chosen one of the king's councillors by Alexander III in 1255, with the approval of Henry III of England, and was sheriff of Perthshire at the time of his death in 1266. His father, Nicolas de Haya, was lord of Errol in 1293 (Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. 624), but seems to have died about that date, as Sir Gilbert de Haya was in possession of that property when he swore fealty to Edward I in 1296, being then described as ‘a tenant of the King at Perth.’ During the troubled state of Scotland in the early years of the fourteenth century Sir Gilbert remained faithful to Edward I, and suffered severely at the hands of his countrymen. In 1304–5 he presented a petition to the king praying grace for the relief of his lands in Scotland, ‘which are so destroyed by the Scottish wars that he will be quite ruined if he pays the extent, along with that of the lady his mother's dower, and also the extent of his freeholders, from whom he has taken nothing, and will be obliged to sell his lands.’ The king granted a partial cancellation of the claim, and stipulated that the balance might be paid by annual instalments, ‘if he conducts himself in a good manner at the king's will’ (Cal. of Documents relating to Scotland, ii. 469). Shortly after this date (in March 1306) Haya joined the party of Robert Bruce. In April of that year Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, applied to the king for a gift of Haya's lands to Sir Walter de Beauchamp, but the king refused the request until he should come personally to Scotland. In June 1306, however, Edward gave orders to the Earl of Pembroke to burn, destroy, and strip the lands and gardens of Sir Gilbert, ‘to whom the King did great courtesy when he was last in London, but now finds he is a traitor.’ This severity confirmed Haya in his adherence to Bruce, and he became one of the leaders in the Scottish war of independence. In recognition of his services Robert I granted the lands of Slains in Aberdeenshire to him, circa 1309 (Robertson, Index of Charters, p. 2), and he obtained the hereditary office of lord high constable of Scotland in 1308–9. Scot of Scotstarvet (Staggering State of Scots Statesmen) asserts that he was appointed constable in 1321 as successor to the forfeited Earl of Wintoun. Douglas in his ‘Peerage’ (sub voce ‘Errol’) refers to a charter granting the office heritably dated 12 Nov. 1314. There is ample evidence that he held the office in 1308–9, as on 16 March he concurred with the nobles and inhabitants of Scotland in the letter sent to King Philip of France from St. Andrews, designating himself therein as ‘constable of Scotland’ (Acta Parl. Scot. i. 459 a). A charter of inspexisse, by ‘Gilbert Hay, constable of Scotland,’ dated 1309, is now in the possession of Lieutenant-general Rattray of Craighall, Perthshire; and, under the same designation, he witnesses a charter dated 1 May 1319, which is now in the muniment room of the Earl of Southesk (Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. 536, 7th Rep. 718). In 1324 he gave a donation of 20s. to the Blackfriars monastery at Perth to provide two lights, and he refers in this document, which is preserved among the papers of the Earl of Errol, to his brother John, rector of Errol, and to his son Nicolas. Sir Gilbert died in 1330, and was buried at the abbey of Cupar in Angus, where an inscribed tablet bearing his name and a mutilated stone figure of a mail-clad knight were discovered about thirty years ago. The present Earl of Errol is the lineal descendant of Sir Gilbert de Haya, and retains the office of hereditary constable of Scotland.

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A. H. M.