HAY, Thomas (c. 1660-1719)

HAY, Thomas (c. 1660–1719)

cr. 31 Dec. 1697 Visct. Dupplin [S]; suc. 3rd cos. William Hay 10 May 1709 as 7th earl of KINNOULL [S]

RP [S] 1710-15

First sat 27 Nov. 1710; last sat 8 Aug. 1714

MP [S] Perth 1693-6

b. c.1660, 2nd s. of George Hay (d.1672) of Balhousie Castle, Perth, and Margaret, da. of Sir Thomas Nicolson, ld. advocate [S]. m. contr. 20 Dec. 1683, Margaret (d. 21 Mar. 1696), da. of William Drummond, 1st Visct. Strathallan [S], 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. (1 d.v.p.). d. 5 Jan. 1719.1

PC [S] 1696-1704; commr. exchequer [S] 1696, justiciary for Highlands [S] 1697–aft. 1702; Union with England 1706.2

Commr. supply Perth 1685, 1689, 1690, 1702, 1704; militia 1689. 3

Associated with: Dupplin House, Strathearn, Perth.

A Perthshire laird, hailing from a cadet branch of the staunchly Royalist earls of Kinnoull, Hay came of age politically under the protection of the Murrays of Atholl, entering the Scottish administration in 1696 with John Murray, earl of Tullibardine [S], later duke of Atholl [S]. But although he remained close to Tullibardine he soon found alternative patrons, first Tullibardine’s great rival James Douglas, 2nd duke of Queensberry [S], and much later the English Tory politician Robert Harley, later earl of Oxford, to whom he became connected by marriage. Hay retained residual ‘cavalier’ sympathies throughout his political life but the traces of these loyalties became fainter the more he engaged with government. The turning point in his career was the return from Jacobite exile of his distant cousin, William Hay, 6th earl of Kinnoull [S], in about 1699.4 Hay, who had been raised to the Scottish peerage as Viscount Dupplin in 1697, probably through Tullibardine’s influence, petitioned the English treasury in 1699 for recognition of his own claim to a right of inheritance in an annuity of £1,000 (derived from the profits of the customs in Barbados) which had been granted by Charles II in perpetuity to the earls of Kinnoull in recognition of their loyalty to his father and himself.5 Although Tullibardine was now out of office, and in opposition to Queensberry’s court party, the petition was accepted. The following year Dupplin went one step further, and requested payment of the not inconsiderable amount of arrears which had accumulated since the 1680s.6 This too seems to have been accepted, although instalments of these arrears were paid only occasionally. The annual payments, however, were made on a regular basis.7 In 1704 the earl of Kinnoull, having surrendered his titles, received a regrant of the earldom for life, with a reversion to Dupplin.

When Tullibardine returned to office in 1702 Dupplin may have re-established their former close relationship, for he certainly received an expensive present from Atholl (as Tullibardine had since become) in May 1704 and he did not suffer as a consequence of the ministerial experiment of 1704, which saw Queensberry replaced as commissioner, and responsibility for managing the Scottish parliament entrusted to the ‘New Party’ (or ‘Squadrone Volante’).8 But during the session he sided with the Queensberryites, alongside his new son-in-law, John Erskine, 22nd earl of Mar, who had married Dupplin’s daughter in 1703. Although he lost his place on the Scottish Privy Council in December 1704 with other cavaliers, he was now regarded as a member of Queensberry’s ‘old court party’.9 As such, he gave his full support to the Union and was named a commissioner to the treaty negotiations, during which he was one of the very few Scottish commissioners who never wavered in their support for a fully incorporating Union.10 As the parliamentary session of October 1706 approached, he was asked by the court to use his influence with Atholl to bring him to support the treaty, but in vain.11 Having been prevented from attending parliament during the early stages of the ratification process because of an illness to his second son and then his own illness, he arrived in Edinburgh before the end of the year and thereafter voted consistently for the treaty.12 He hoped that this loyal service would result in his being named as a representative peer in the first Parliament of Great Britain, but Mar could not persuade Queensberry to allocate Dupplin one of the court party’s places, even when volunteering himself to stand aside for his father-in-law.13

In the preparations for the 1708 elections Dupplin was again used by Mar and Queensberry as an intermediary with Atholl, with mixed results.14 He was also one of the peers who stood bail for Atholl in the following summer, following the duke’s arrest on suspicion of involvement in the unsuccessful Jacobite rising.15 Included on the court slate for representative peers, he attended the election, voting a straight court line, but was disappointed in his hopes of a seat, gaining 42 votes.16 This was a particular blow to the court, as James Douglas, 4th duke of Hamilton was quick to point out.17

Dupplin had already established a correspondence with English political figures such as the lord treasurer, Sidney Godolphin, earl of Godolphin, and his personal affairs (including, presumably, ongoing solicitations for the payment of his pension) ‘obliged him to be in London almost every winter’.18 These Westminster connections increased considerably in weight and significance after Dupplin’s cousin died in May 1709 and he succeeded to the earldom of Kinnoull and after August when his son and heir George Hay, now styled Viscount Dupplin [S] (later Baron Hay), married Robert Harley’s daughter Abigail. The match had been some time in the making, and the Hays were already integrated into Harley’s social circle.19 But for the time being it was also important to keep on good terms with Queensberry and Godolphin, especially as it was necessary to secure the continuance of the customs annuity, which the treasury duly recognized in September 1709 as vested in him as 7th earl.20 During the early months of 1710 the new earl used his son (who himself now took the courtesy title of Dupplin) as a conduit for much of his correspondence with Harley: thus in February Harley was told that Kinnoull was ‘perfectly recovered of his gout, very earnest to hear the event of what you’re all doing at London, and he’s as desirous of a peace as ever’.21

After the fall of Godolphin Kinnoull openly identified with Harley’s new ministry, on whose behalf he worked, with Mar, in preparations for the 1710 elections. His friendship with Atholl was again important, in brokering a deal between Atholl, Hamilton, and Queensberry’s interest. 22 He was himself included in their joint list and attended the election on 10 Nov. 1710 to cast his vote and two proxies (for two men with extensive English interests, Henry Alexander, 5th earl of Stirling [S], whose sister was married to Sir William Trumbull, and William Cheyne 2nd Viscount Newhaven [S], the latter having sat in the Commons until the Union). He was easily returned.23 He was then listed by the duchess of Buccleuch’s chaplain as a ‘court Tory’ with an income of ‘near £4,000’ a year.24 Another analysis of the representative peers drawn up soon after the election classed him as a ‘Jacobite’.

Kinnoull’s career in the British Parliament was distinctly lacklustre, constrained by poor health and his reluctance to leave Scotland. After the peerage election, Kinnoull wrote to Harley of his intention to leave Edinburgh on 13 Nov., so as to ‘be with you against the Parliament sit down’.25 Although not recorded in the Journal as present, he took the oaths on 27 Nov. 1710 and was appointed to the committee on the Address. On the following day, although again not noted as present, he was named to the committee of privileges. His first listed attendance was on 4 Dec., when he signed a proxy in favour of the earl of Mar, as he did again on 7 and 12 Jan. 1711. He was listed as present on 12 Jan., and thus probably voted in favour of a resolution which blamed the former Whig ministers for the military setbacks in Spain in 1707, as it was reported that in this division ‘all the Scots went one way’.26 On 3 Feb. he was named to the committee to draft the representation on the war in Spain. His most consistent period of attendance was in the second half of May when he was present for 12 sittings, but thereafter he did not appear until 12 June, the day of the prorogation. In all, he was present on 36 days, 32 per cent of the total.

Dupplin wrote to Harley (now earl of Oxford and lord treasurer) on his father’s behalf on 10 July 1711, explaining that Kinnoull was disappointed that he had not been accorded a central place in the management of Scottish affairs. He had hoped to be made lord clerk register, and to be able to influence the direction of Scottish policy:

he would not at all meddle in Scotch affairs by halves, if a thorough measure for the interest of the crown (which by his notion is the only way Scotland can reap advantage by the Union) were not gone into, and pursued without respect to private recommendations, without fear of disobliging or desire of obliging anybody or any party.


at some certain times I have found him in quite another humour, that he desired nothing in the world so much as to go home and plant his trees and live easily in the country. What had he to do to be chosen one of the 16 to come to London and make himself a show with his gout? And a world of such splenetic fancies, which I took not at all to be what he really desired, but only to proceed from the delay he found was like to be in doing anything in Scotch business.

At the same time, if Oxford called his bluff,

He’ll be very dissatisfied, and will never make good what he so often declares, that no man desires more to live a private life at home at his ploughs than he does. He’ll be worse than he was winter was a twelvemonth, when I assure you there was no bearing of him, not by his children or servants, even though he was in this pleasant country way of living he talks of.27

No office was forthcoming, nor did Kinnoull’s renewed petition to the treasury about February 1711 for arrears of his annuity (which he estimated at over £17,000) elicit a concrete response, but he seems to have been mollified by encouraging letters from Oxford, and as the next session approached he was making professions of loyalty and offering Oxford advice on the management of Scotland.28 He was also taking it upon himself once more to act as a go-between with Atholl.29 Oxford was also using him as a general political agent in Scotland, to manage various cavalier interests and to distribute government pensions to clan chieftains.30

As late as 27 Nov. 1711 Mar was vexed about the non-appearance of the Scottish peers in London for the session prorogued on that day to 7 December. Mar wrote to his brother Hon. James Erskine Lord Grange SCJ, to hurry the peers along: he had himself written to Kinnoull ‘in case he be not come off, but if he be, send it to him by the post to be left at some stage so that he may get it and send you with the draught of a proxy’.31 On 3 Dec. Kinnoull wrote from Edinburgh to both Oxford and his son, Dupplin, sending ‘as many proxies as could be got ready’, many peers being delayed by the need to settle the commission of trade. Kinnoull sent his own proxy, signed on 3 Dec. in favour of Mar, but it did not arrive in time.32 In consequence he missed the debates of 7 Dec. on ‘No Peace without Spain’ and of 20 Dec. on Hamilton’s right to sit in the Lords by virtue of his British peerage as duke of Brandon. Sloth was the explanation given by a political enemy, James Graham, duke of Montrose [S], for the absence of the Scots in general, but Montrose’s correspondent testified on 31 Dec., that Kinnoull had been ‘very bad of the gout’.33 Another factor delaying his arrival may have been resentment at the non-payment of his pension arrears, for Oxford’s papers contain a ‘case’ endorsed with the date 12 Jan. 1711[-12] outlining Kinnoull’s pretensions. Subsequently, in June 1712, the treasury ordered an instalment to be paid (covering 1689-90).34 But although Kinnoull failed to attend Parliament throughout January 1712 a group of Scots peers did meet at his London residence to consider how to respond to the Lords’ vote in the Hamilton case.35 Whatever his views on the Scottish boycott of the House, he was present on 23 Feb., and, although he registered his proxy with Mar two days later, he attended on the 26th and again on the 28th for debates on the Scottish toleration (Episcopal communion) bill, to support the Commons’ amendments (although he was not listed in the Journal as having been present).36 On 29 Feb. he was added to the committee for privileges. He also voted on 28 May in support of the ministry on the ‘restraining orders’ ‘given to James Butler, 2nd duke of Ormond. After attending on 6 and 7 June, he registered a proxy on the 12th in favour of his fellow Episcopalian William Livingston, 2nd Viscount Kilsyth [S]. Then after attending again on 13 June, he registered another proxy two days later once more in favour of Kilsyth. In all, the Journals provide evidence of him attending on only five days of the session, though this must surely have been an under-estimate, when placed against the evidence of contemporary accounts of debates.

In June 1712 it looked as if Kinnoull’s ambition to be lord clerk register was about to be fulfilled, but by the beginning of July William Johnston, marquess of Annandale [S], had emerged as the favourite to replace David Boyle, earl of Glasgow [S], who, in the event, retained the post.37 By 14 Aug. Kinnoull had returned to Scotland to assist the election of James Ogilvy, 4th earl of Findlater [S], as a representative peer, and also to smooth ruffled feathers over the ‘hard treatment of the peers’.38 Peace-making was easier said than done, however, and at the end of December he felt obliged to send Oxford a lengthy letter of advice about Scottish affairs, drawing attention to the ‘abundance of discontents ... both in matters of Kirk and state’, because of a lack of ‘government and order’.39 On 9 Feb. 1713 Oxford wrote to Kinnoull to sympathize over the return of his gout, and to hope that he would soon begin his journey to London for the new session.40 Kinnoull was duly present when the session began on 9 April. Around this time he was listed, in a document drawn up by Swift and amended by Oxford, as a likely supporter of the court. In the crisis provoked by the attempt to extend the malt tax to Scotland he found himself in a difficult position, and while his son sided with the ministry, Kinnoull (who had recently received further payments of pension arrears) seems at first to have regarded discretion as the greater part of valour, and to the surprise and dismay of those pressing hardest for Scottish resistance was absent from London when the crucial meeting was held (on 26 May) which resulted in a motion to dissolve the Union.41 Upon his return, however, he was present on 1 June to support the motion, and subsequently he voted against the ministry over the malt bill, signing the protest against the passage of the bill on 8 June. He was nonetheless forecast as a supporter of the bill confirming the eighth and ninth articles of the French commercial treaty. Overall, he was present on 14 days of the session, 21 per cent of the total.

Once the session was over Kinnoull wrote to Oxford on 2 July 1713 to recommend not only that ‘the malt tax be set to rights’, but also that the Campbell brothers, John, 2nd duke of Argyll [S], and Archibald, earl of Ilay [S], prime movers in the attack on the Union, be ‘turn[ed] out of all they can be turned out of’.42 Re-elected unopposed with the other peers on the court list in 1713, on a list of the returns, Kinnoull was classed as a Jacobite. 

On 30 Jan. 1714 Findlater in Edinburgh informed Oxford that both he and Kinnoull would be ‘detained all the next week’ because of the marriage scheduled for 4 Feb. between Kinnoull’s daughter and his heir, James Ogilvy, the future 5th earl of Findlater.43 Kinnoull did not resume his seat in the Lords until 15 Mar., his one and only appearance in that session, even though in May he received two years’ payment of his arrears, amounting to £2,000.44 On 17 Mar. he entered his proxy in favour of Findlater. In May he was included in a forecast as likely to support the schism bill. On 1 June Findlater noted from London that both he and Kinnoull were ‘very well and extraordinary good friends and both wearied of this place’.45 Kinnoull sat for one day (4 Aug.) when Parliament reconvened after the queen’s death, but on 5 Aug. registered his proxy, again with Findlater. 

Kinnoull was not elected to Parliament in 1715. In late August of that year he was arrested on rumours of Jacobite military preparations in Scotland and confined to Edinburgh castle. Agitation by his friends on the grounds of his poor health and his loyalty to the Hanoverian regime eventually resulted in his release in March of the following year.46 While Lord Dupplin (also Baron Hay in the British peerage) stood by George I and inherited in due course both the earldom and the customs annuity, two other sons of Kinnoull fought for the Pretender. The youngest escaped to France, and was eventually created earl of Inverness [S] in the Jacobite peerage. In 1716, in financial difficulties in Dunkirk, he had appealed to Mar for help, noting that ‘to apply to my father is altogether vain. You know his humour too well to think that, considering the part I acted with relation to his estate, he won’t be extremely piqued at me, which must have some time before he get over it.’47

Kinnoull died (perhaps inevitably of gout) at Dupplin House on 5 Jan. 1719.


  • 1 Douglas, Scots Peerage, v. 230–2.
  • 2 CSP Dom. 1696, pp. 168, 195; CSP Dom. 1697, p. 80; CSP Dom. 1702-3, p. 353; Lockhart Letters 6.
  • 3 Parls. of Scot. ed. Young, i. 333.
  • 4 HMC Portland, viii. 339.
  • 5 HMC Johnstone, 102-3; CTB, xiv. 88.
  • 6 CTP 1702-7, pp. 12, 72-73.
  • 7 CTB, xv. 60, 112, 380, 408, 419; CTB, xvi. 72, 78, 303; CTB, xvii. 241, 443, 955; CTB, xviii. 101; CTB, xix. 105, 304, 383; Jones, Party and Management, 165.
  • 8 Chrons. Atholl and Tullibardine Fams. ii. 33.
  • 9 P.W.J. Riley, Union, 93, 176; HMC Mar and Kellie, i. 233, 242; NAS, GD 124/15/267/3; 124/15/350.
  • 10 C.A. Whatley, Scots and Union, 252.
  • 11 Drumlanrig, Buccleuch mss, bdle. 1202, Queensberry to [Godolphin], 28 Sept. 1706.
  • 12 Seafield Letters, 104, 173-4; HMC Mar and Kellie, i. 319, 363; Riley, Union, 330.
  • 13 HMC Mar and Kellie, i. 374-7; HMC Portland, iv. 389-90.
  • 14 Blair Atholl, Atholl mss, 45/7/140; NAS, GD 124/15/859/1; Add. 61631, f. 54.
  • 15 NAS, GD 26/7/139.
  • 16 NLS, ms. 1026, ff. 23, 28-35.
  • 17 Add. 61628, ff. 102-7.
  • 18 Seafield Letters, 173-4; HMC Mar and Kellie, i. 376.
  • 19 Add. 70295, Harley to Dupplin, 14 Jan. 1709; Add. 70147, A. Harley to aunt, 4 Aug. 1709; Add. 70059, Lord Harley to A. Harley, 13 Aug. [1709]; Add. 72499, ff. 46-47; Add. 61460, ff. 19-22.
  • 20 CTB, xxiii. 353.
  • 21 Add. 70241, Dupplin to Harley, 17 Jan., 11 Feb. 1710, Kinnoull to same, 27 Apr. 1710.
  • 22 Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scot. 152-3; HMC Portland, iv. 558-9, 566, 597, 601-2, 622; NAS, GD 124/15/1002, 1010.
  • 23 HMC Portland, x. 351; NLS, ms. 1026, ff. 62-63; Add. 72500, ff. 28-29; Add. 72540, f. 219.
  • 24 SHR, lx. 62.
  • 25 Add. 70241, Kinnoull to Harley, 10 Nov. [1710].
  • 26 Haddington mss at Mellerstain, 3, Baillie to wife, 13 Jan. 1710/11.
  • 27 HMC Portland, v. 33-34.
  • 28 CTP 1708–14, pp. 248-9; HMC Portland, v. 97-98; Add. 70241, Kinnoull to Oxford, memo. 19 Sept. 1711; same to Dupplin, 27 Oct. 1711.
  • 29 NAS, GD 112/ 39/258/14; HMC Portland, v. 112.
  • 30 HMC Portland, v. 216-17; x. 227–8; Add. 61161, ff. 223-5.
  • 31 NAS, GD 124/15/1024/28.
  • 32 Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scot. 178; HMC Portland, v. 121-2; Add. 70281, [-] to Oxford, ‘Thursday 3 o’clock’ [6 or 13 Dec. 1711].
  • 33 Haddington mss, 4, Montrose to Baillie, 31 Dec. 1711, Baillie to wife, 31 Dec. 1711.
  • 34 Add. 70278, Kinnoull’s case; CTB, xxvi. 43, 314.
  • 35 Scot. Hist. Soc. Misc. xii. 149.
  • 36 Haddington mss, 5, Baillie to wife, 26, 28 Feb. 1712.
  • 37 NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 6 , f. 191; Haddington mss, 5, Baillie to wife, 1 July 1712, same to Roxburghe, 4 July 1712.
  • 38 Wodrow letters Quarto 6, f. 203; Q. Anne Letters ed. Brown, 376–7; HMC Portland, v. 210–11.
  • 39 HMC Portland, v. 256-7.
  • 40 Add. 70241, Oxford to Kinnoull, 9 Feb. 1712/3 [copy].
  • 41 CTB, xxvii. 32, 161, 222; Lockhart Letters, 79; HMC Laing, ii. 171; Hamilton mss at Lennoxlove, C3/1324.
  • 42 HMC Portland, v. 303-4.
  • 43 Add. 70250, Findlater to Oxford, 30 Jan. 1714; Add. 72501, f. 92.
  • 44 HMC Portland, v. 313; Wodrow letters Quarto 7, f. 182; CTB, xxviii. 256-7.
  • 45 NAS, GD 248/561/50/7.
  • 46 HMC Portland, v. 518; TNA, SP54/7/89; SP 54/8/16, 24-25; SP 54/11/85, 167; Herts. ALS, Cowper (Panshanger) mss, DE/P/F55, Findlater to Cowper, [1715]; F139, Kinnoull to Townshend, 3 Sept. 1715 [copy].
  • 47 HMC Stuart, ii. 56.