Sir George Hay

(1st Earl of Kinnoull)

1572 - 1634

Nobleman and entrepreneur. Most likely born at Megginch Castle in the Carse of Gowrie, to the east of Perth, Hay received a Jesuit education in France. He returned to Scotland on the death of his father and seems to have accepted Protestantism. He may have been part of the Gowrie Conspiracy, and was certainly present in Gowrie House at the time. This seems not to have harmed him and he was appointed a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to King James VI (1566 - 1625) sometime after the Union of the Crowns (1603). Hay was knighted c.1607, was appointed Lord Clerk Register and a Lord of Session in 1616 and served as Lord Chancellor (1622-34). He resisted James VI's reforms to the Court of session (1626).

Hay was raised to the peerage as Viscount Dupplin in 1627 and was created Earl of Kinnoull in 1633 on the occasion of the coronation of King Charles I (1600-49).

He had supported Five Articles of Perth (1618) but seems not to have been enthusiastic for the Church Hierarchy as he refused to yield precedence to the Archbishop of St. Andrews in Charles I's coronation procession fifteen years later.

Hay had significant business interests; he was part of syndicates which attempted to colonise the Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, then a wild place not under the rule of Scottish law. Their three expeditions (1598-1601, 1605-06 and 1609) were seen off by the islanders. In 1610, he established the first blast-furnace in Scotland at Letterewe and used this to smelt iron and produce glass. He gained a monopoly on glass manufacture in Scotland, extended his market into England and also obtained a monopoly over whaling.

Hay seems to have established himself as an efficient administrator, responsible for reforms in the taxation system. He died in London and was buried in Kinnoull Aisle (Perth), under a particularly fine monument.

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