There is a story about the Hays being ancient Scottish farmers:  in Hector Boece's fables a farmer called Hay and his two sons helped defeat the Danes at the battle of Luncarty in 971 AD.  After which, the family was given an estate. 

There is also a story that the Hay family came to England from the village of La Haye-Bellefond in Normandy, France, with William the Conqueror's army in 1066. 

The family appears in Scottish records in the 1100's during the reign of William the Lion, who bestowed on him the lands of Errol.

William de La Haye was a cup bearer (butler) to King Malcom IV who reigned between 1153-1165. 

One source says: William married the Celtic heiress Eva who brought him the Errol lands. 

But another source says it was William the Lion (brother of King Malcom) who bestowed on him the lands of Errol.

William de Haya married Juliana de Sordis (maybe)

William de Hay married a daughter of Randolph, Lord of Liddlesdale, and had children.  His second son, Robert became the ancestor of the Earl of Tweeddale. 

William also married Helen, daughter of the Earl of Strathearn.

William was succeeded by his son David.

David's son was Gilbert.

In northeast Scotland about halfway between Aberdeen and Peterhead, on a windy cliff, stands the shell of Old Slains castle (see below), the ancient seat of the Hay family, Earls of Erroll. The land at Slains was a gift to Sir Gilbert Hay

 (ca.1280?-1333) by King Robert the Bruce of Scots (1306-1329) in recognition for his loyal service during the wars of Independence against the English. Gilbert was a personal friend of King Robert Bruce. In 1306 Gilbert (and his brother Hugh) and Robert Bruce were hiding out in the Scottish highlands, running from the English authorities.  That same year he was in the Battle of Methven. Robert Bruce appointed him Hereditary High Constable of Scotland in 1309. (The family still holds that title, givng them precedence in Scotland immediately after the royal family. )  Sir Gilbert was one of the barons who signed the famous Declaration of Independence at Arbroath in 1320. About the same time the Hay family also acquired Delgatie Castle (see below). 

[For more reading: see books at left]

(son of Gilbert):

Nicholas Hay, b by Feb 5, 1283, died by June 1306. m Johanna ? (abt 1292-abt 1332).

(son of Nicholas):

Sir David Hay (abt 1318-1346), who accompanied King David II of Scots (1329-1371) to the battle of Neville's Cross in 1346,where King David was captured and Sir David was killed (17 Oct 1346, Battle Of Durham, Scotland).  David was succeeded as 3rd High Constable by his son, Thomas. 

(son of David):

Sir Thomas Hay, 7th Baron, Great Constable (abt 1342-July 1406), married (Nov 7, 1372) Princess Elizabeth Stewart (abt 1346-abt 1389), a daughter of King Robert II of Scots (who lived 1316-1390, reigned 1371-1390) & Elizabeth More.  Thomas was buried at Coupar Angus Abbey.

(son of Thomas):

Sir William de la Hay, 8th Baron of Erroll, 1374-1436/7 & Margaret Gray

(son of William):

Gilbert Hay.  Married Alice (daughter of Sir William Hay of Yester, d1421 & Alice Hay)

[These are the Hay Earls of Erroll, but they are not strictly father to son]


William Hay, 1st Earl of Erroll

b abt 1412, d abt 1462

William was the son of Gilbert Hay the younger of Erroll (1396-1436) & Alice Hay.  

He became 5th High Constable and was created Earl of Erroll and Lord of Slains by King James II of Scots (1437-1460) as a reward for Hay support during the King's war with the rebel 'Black' Douglas Lords and their allies the Lyndsays, Earls of Crawford and the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles.  He lived in the Carse of Gowrie (now Errol Park) north of the Firth of Tay.  William married  Beatrix Douglas (daughter of James the Gross Douglas, 7th Earl of Douglas, & Beatrix Sinclair).

Drawings of Old Slains Castle and rubble today:


Nicholas Hay, 2nd Earl of Erroll

b abt 1451 - d 1470

Nicholas was the son of William Hay 1st Earl of Erroll.  Nicholas was born in Errol, Perthshire, Scotland.  He married Elizabeth Gorden, 15 Nov 1461 (who was born about 1453 in of Huntly, Gordon, Berwickshire, Scotland. She died on 17 Apr 1500. She was buried in Coupar, Perthshire, Scotland.)

Nicholas acceded to the title in 1462 when his father died.  He was about 11 years old, and he died about age 19, then the title went to his brother.


William Hay, 3rd Earl of Erroll

1449 - 1507

William was the son of William Hay 1st Earl (& brother of Nicholas 2nd Earl).  He married Isabel Gordon and Elizabeth Leslie.

In 1488 at the Parliament held at Edinburgh castle by King James III of Scots (1460-1488) both William Hay, 3rd Earl of Erroll and John Hay of Yester were among the many Lords who sided with the King while a rebel army, using Prince James (later James IV) as a figure head, marched from Linlithgow. In fact William was one of the Lords who insisted the King should flee to Fife as the rebels reached the outskirts of Edinburgh. The rebels, allegedly led by the 'Red' Douglas Archibald 'Bell the cat', while pursuing the King to Leith seized several wagons containing some of the King's money and cloths. William was also with the Lords who marched north with the King to Aberdeen to muster support in the highlands to oppose the rebels in the south. But at the battle of Sauchieburn near Stirling the Hays like so many of the other Lords at the Parliament abandoned the King to his own fate. The Royal army was routed by the rebels and the King badly wounded, fled to a nearby mill house where he was murdered by a rebel pretending to be a priest. By 1489 we find William Hay supporting the new regime under King James IV of Scots (1488-1513). 

In 1513 the Hays of Erroll (including Gilbert Hay of Delgatie Castle) and the Hays of Yester with 87 men of their same family name were all killed at the battle of Flodden Field along with King James IV of Scots. (Also falling here was the Earl of Montrose, whose descendant, the Marquis of Montrose later was hanged with Hay's descendant, William Hay, for supporting Charles II during the English Civil War.)

[There is another branch of the Hay family in Tweeddale. One of these Hays was created Baron Hay of Yester in 1488, Earl of Tweeddale in 1646, and Marquis of Tweeddale, Earl of Gifford, and Viscount of Walden, in 1694.  Their family-seat is Yester-house, in Haddingtonshire.]

Son, Thomas Hay was born abt 1479-81, d Sept 9, 1513, Flodden Field, Branxton, Northumberland, England. He was married to Margaret Logie in 1493.

Son, William Hay (b abt 1480) married Christian Lyon.


William Hay, 4th Earl of Erroll, 

d 1513

William Hay, 5th Earol of Erroll, 

d 1541

William Hay, 6th Earl of Erroll, 

abt 1521-1541


George Hay, 7th Earl of Erroll

1505 - 1573

Sir George Hay, 7th Earl (b 1505, son of Thomas Hay & Margaret Logie). He married Margaret Robertson &

Helen (Bruce) Bryson and died Jan 30, 1573/74.


Andrew Hay, 8th Earl of Erroll

c.1531 - 1585

Andrew, 8th Earl, b abt 1531, d 1585, married Jean Hay, daug of William 6th Hay.

He also married Lady Agnes Sinclair and had William Hay of Fetterletter. 

Another son, George, had a grandson, John, who became the 12th Earl of Erroll.

maps show different places the Hay clan lived: Delgatie in the north, Old Slains castle was south of Peterhead at the Bay of

Cruden, but there were also Hays farther south in Perth.


Francis Hay, 9th Earl of Erroll

(30 April 1564 – July 16, 1631)

In 1585, Francis Hay (abt 1557-1631) succeeded his father, Andrew (8th Hay), as the 9th Earl of Errol.

At this time the two most powerful lords in the northeast of Scotland were the Earl of Erroll (Hay) and the Marquis of Huntly (Gordon). Following the reformation in 1560 these two families continued to adhere to the Roman Catholic faith and plotted for its restoration.

Francis Hay plotted with Gordon and Douglas to depose Elizabeth I of England, convert the young James VI back to Catholicism and create a united Britain in plot known as the "Treaty of the Spanish Blanks," allegedly signed by Hay Earl of Erroll, Gordon Earl of Huntly and the 'Red' Douglas Earl of Angus of Tantallon castle. In 1588 when the Spanish Armada sailed toward England, the Hays of Erroll of Old Slains castle were among several other Scots Lords alleged to be in league militarily with the Spanish Armada. 

(Picture at right of an Armada ship mooring near Tantallon Castle).

King James was lenient with them at first (he seemed to truly like Francis Hay) but eventually was forced to turn

against them.  In July, 1592, "Francis Hay, Earll of Errole was put in Ward in the castle of Edinburgh for

Papistry" and in February, 1593, the “Earls of Huntley and Errole, denounced rebels and put to the horne for not

appearing to subscribe the Band concerning Religione” The Earls of Huntly, Erroll and Angus forfeited their

titles to the crown. James V1 was forced to this by the church, however he was furious with any of his subjects

who might undermine his chances of obtaining the English throne because of entanglements with the Spanish. 

In 1594 the rebel lords were called before the King and Council to answer for their loyalty. But instead, the Earls

of Huntly, Erroll and Angus raised a rebellion in their defense. In the battle of Glenlivet, Oct. 3, 1594, not far

from the Gordon stronghold of Auchendoun, the 300 soldiers of Francis Hay and George Gordon routed the

Campbells of Argyll and the MacLeans, 10,000-strong, who were fighting on behalf of King James VI. Patrick

Con of Auchry, was captain of the cavalry in the army of the Earl of Erroll, Lord High Constable of Scotland. The outcome of the battle was greatly affected by the skillful handling of a disciplined body of 100-200 picked horsemen of Erroll’s. Francis Hay himself was wounded in the leg by a MacLean arrow while leading the mounted charge. 

Glenlivet was the last effort of arms, victorious but vain, to restore the Catholic faith in Scotland. King James arranged to have Huntly castle destroyed as he marched north to personally blow up Old Slains castle. 

Pictures: Location of Delgatie --  below Delgatie Castle today 

King James also attacked (but didn't destroy) the other Hay castle at Delgatie.

 Delgatie was acquired by the Hay family in 1314 and remained in the family until abt 1745 when the Hay family was on the wrong side of royal conflict, but the family eventually regained it. Now Delgatie Castle is a charitable trust and the Hay Clan Centre. Mary Queen of Scots (below) stayed there for 3 days in 1562.  Other castles owned by the Hay family.

After the battle of Glenlivet in 1594, Francis fled into exile and only returned to Scotland in

1597 when the titles of the 3 Earls were returned to them. Instead of trying to repair Old

Slains he went 6 miles north and rebuilt Bowness castle and renamed this castle New Slains.

(Subsequent Earls added to it, the last great reconstruction being in 1837. It was abandoned

in 1916 and today it is a ruin.)

Below: New Slains rubble --- New Slains about 1880 (at Cruden Bay south of Peterhead)

(In 1895 it was at New Slains castle, while on a visit to Cruden Bay that Bram Stoker was inspired to write his classic novel Dracula. Early drafts had the vampire coming ashore at Slains Castle.) 

Also, Kinnoull Castle in Perth (no remains) was a property of the Hays from 1340. 

Other Hay properties: Balhousie Castle (Perth), Castle of Esslemont, Castle of Park, Craignethan Castle, Neidpath Castle and Yester Castle 

In 1597 the Spanish Armada was rebuilt and ready to sail again with eighty-four mostly new galleons. This time the Scots lords as a whole, including the Hays, Gordons and Douglases, given their past troubles, would have nothing to do with the Spanish so this Armada never ventured into English or Scottish waters.

When he returned to Scotland in 1597, Francis made peace with the Scottish Kirk (church) and became a protestant. In 1602 he was appointed High Commissioner of Scotland.  He did not have peaceful relations with the church though because they seriously doubted his conversion. He was  imprisoned 1608-1611. In 1620 he had to appear in court and answer charges that he had sent his son and his brother to France. It was against the law to send your children to a Catholic country to school.

Francis Hay, Count of Errol married 1st Anne, daug of John, 4th earl of Atholl; m 2nd Margaret, daughter of James Stewart, Count of Moray, son of James V; and m 3rd Elizabeth, daug of William, 6th Earl of Morton. (This last marriage again made the King unhappy with him). There is some disagreement over who is the mother of the next Earl of Errol, William Hay. One source says he is the son of Margaret, granddaughter of James V. However, another source says Francis had no children by his first 2 wives, but had 6 by his third.

He died in 1631 and was buried at Slains Church. 

(Balhousie (at right), located in North Perth, Scotland, was built in 1860, but it has a 16th century towerhouse, which was owned by the Eviot family until 1478, when it was sold to the Mercers, and later passed to the Hay family, who owned it in 1631.) 


William Hay, 10th Earl of Erroll

d 1650

Francis' oldest son, William Hay, inherited the title and became the tenth Earl of Errol, and not long afterward a long-standing jurisdictional dispute was settled and the Earl of Errol became recognized again as the Lord High Constable of Scotland, ranking next to the King in authority. This is a hereditary position and still in effect today.

In 1618 he married Lady Anne Lyon of Kinghorne.

In 1615 Adam Gordon, was killed in a single combat by Francis Hay, a German cousin of the Earl of Errol. His brother, the Laird (Lord) of Gight, resolved to revenge this deed, seized Hay, without any warrant, and brought him to Aberdeen, where, in an illegal trial, presided over by the sheriff-substitute, who was also a Gordon, he was condemned to death. Next morning he was led out to a solitary place, and there butchered by the Gordons. No punishment seems to have been inflicted on the perpetrators of this bloody deed, which caused a fierce quarrel between the Earl of Errol and the Marquis of Huntly. (The Gordons and the Hays had a 200-year-long feud, even though they were both Catholic supporters and often on the same side in battle, and had often intermarried. The feuds were often over boundaries and properties, but the Gordons were known to be lawless and unruly, fighting with relatives or anyone who could cross them. The Gordon Earl who lived at the time of Francis Hay was known as the "cock of the north.") 

William Hay (of Delgatie Castle) supported King Charles I. "Charles I was not Catholic, but he supported William Laud's version of Anglicanism, a form of Protestantism that encouraged elaborate ritual not unlike the Roman Catholic, and which, while politically not friendly to the Vatican, at least recognized Catholics as within the universal church, in sharp contrast to the Calvinists, who regarded the pope as the antichrist. However, Charles' wife, Queen Henrietta Maria, who was French, was indeed Catholic, had a catholic chapel at court, etc.This was a source of tremendous tension within the kingdom, though Charles himself was personally very devoted to his wife, and vice-versa." (quote from Jeffery Wollock)

Charles' refusal to work with Parliament and his strong belief in the "divine right of kings," eventually caused his execution in 1649. 

In 1636 Scotland was in a great uproar over the Episcopalian-style worship the King was enforcing on the Calvinist-Presbyterian country. Hay's Delgatie Castle was the site of the first skirmish in the civil war between the Covenanters and the Royalists in May 1639. In 1642 the English Civil War began in earnest between the King's forces and the Protestants in Scotland and England. James Graham, the Marquis of Montrose, though raised a Scottish Protestant, felt that it was right to support the King, and led one of his armies. William Hay fought with him and served as his chief of staff. After the execution of Charles I, Montrose and Hay shifted their allegiance to Charles II, who was in exile in France, with his mother, a French princess. Even though the Protestant forces had already won and executed the king, Charles II encouraged Montrose to continue the fight, knowing that he was sending him to his death. Montrose and Hay were captured and executed in Edinburgh in 1650, both buried in St. GilesCathedral in Edinburgh. 

(Picture of the Marquis of Montrose at right.)

This quote from English and Scottish Ballads (p141) leaves a little confusion about whether Montrose's friend was William Hay or Francis Hay.  I lean toward it being William because of the death dates of the two men.

"Gallant Montrose, that chieftain bold, / Courageous in the best degree,

Did for the king fight well that day; / The Lord preserve his majestie!

Nathaniel Gordon, Stout and bold, / Did for King Charles wear the blue;

But the cavaliers they all were sold, / And brave Harthill, a cavalier too.

And Newton-Gordon, burd-alone, / And Dalgatie, both stout and keen,

And gallant Veitch upon the field, a braver face was never seen.

      Footnote: Sir Francis Hay, of Dalgatie, a steady cavalier, and a gentleman of great gallantry and accomplishments. He was a faithful follower of Montrose, and was taken prisoner with him at his last fatal battle. He was condemned to death with his illustrious general."


Gilbert Hay, 11th Earl of Erroll

1631 - 1675

There is one source that shows a John Hay, born abt 1635 in Hoheinod, Germany (d 1704), who was the son of  Gilbert 11th Hay.  (but another source says Gilbert married Lady Katherine Carnegie and they had no children.) 

There could have been several Gilbert Hays.  There was one Gilbert who was born abt 1656 and ended up in Prince George Co, Va. writing his will in 1719.

But if Gilbert 11th Hay was a titled Lord, why might he have been in Germany?

Gilbert Hay was born in 1631.  In 1648 he was involved in trying to rescue King Charles I (who was executed Jan 30, 1649), and later was involved in raising a regiment to support Charles II.  These efforts in support of the Catholic kings could have caused him a lot of grief, and could be an excuse for his spending time in Germany.

On the other hand, Gilbert had no issue in Scotland because the title passed to a relative.


John Hay, 12th Earl of Erroll

1650 - 1704

John Hay was the 12th Earl of Errol. John was the son of Sir Andrew Hay & Margaret Kinnaird. [Andrew was the son of George Hay & Elizabeth Cheyne.  George was the son of Andrew Hay, 8th Earl of Erroll.]

John was born about 1650, married 1674 to Anne Drummond and died 30 Dec 1704.

In 1688 William of Orange (Netherlands) and his wife Mary (daughter of James II) were invited to come to England to take the throne. This permanently solidified Protestant control of all of England & Scotland. However, there were still pockets of Catholic resistance.

In 1708, Charles, the 13th Earl of Erroll opposed the union of Scotland and England, organized the Jacobite uprising and was imprisoned for it. 

In 1714 Queen Anne died leaving no children and a group called the Jacobites attempted again to restore the Stewart line to the throne. The Hays supported the Jacobite Uprising of both 1715 and 1745.  John Hay the Jacobite fought with the Earl of Mar and was captured with about 600 other Scots at the battle of Preston in 1715. [from descendant Curtis Pigman.] In 1716 in Scotland, 639 rebel supporters of James (son of James II) were arrested and shipped to the American colonies as indentured servants. That list includes a John Hay (on the ship "Friendship," Capt Michael Mankin, bound for Maryland or Virginia from Liverpool 24 May 1716 with 80 prisoners.) This John Hay's relationship to the rest of the family is unknown, however the Hay family were supporters of the Catholic King and the Jacobite movement.

In 1745 Mary Hay, Countess of Erroll in her own right, raised forces to fight in the failed Jacobite (Catholic) rebellion to help "Bonnie Prince Charlie" (grandson of James II) in his failed attempt to regain the throne.

In 1745 an Adam Hay was among a group who were captured and tried for being a part of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745.

By 1758 the Earl of Errol failed to have a direct descendant and the title moved to a nephew (his sister's son), James Boyd, 15th Earl of Errol (who changed his name to Hay). 

It is not known what exactly caused my immigrant ancestor, JOHN HAY's father to leave Scotland, but sometime in the late 1600's, he fled Scotland to Alsace in Germany. 

I don't know if this has anything to do with my American line of Hays or not, but it does show that there was a Scottish-Germany connection in the Hay family:   In 1615 Francis Hay, a German cousin of the Earl of Errol, was visiting relatives in Scotland when he killed a son of a long-time Hay family rival, after which he was killed in reprisal.] 


Hay family in Scotland

Ancestors of the American immigrant, Adam Hay

The Hay family tartan

St. Andrew’s cross,

the flag of Scotland