From the Book of Eminent Burgesses of Dundee 1513 to 1885.

George Hay of Netherliff - 12th October 1600



GEORGE HAY of Netherliff was one of the foremost statesmen of his time, and at his death occupied the highest office which any subject could hold that of Lord Chancellor of Scotland. He was the third son of PETER HAY of Megginch, and MARGARET, daughter of SIR PATRICK OGILYY of Inchmartine, and was born in 1572. His uncle, EDMUND HAY better known in history as FATHER HAY, the Jesuit had found refuge in France after the Reformation; and GEORGE HAY was sent thither, at the age of eighteen, to complete his studies at the Scots College at Douay, under the supervision of his relative, who was Professor of Civil and Canon Law at that seat of learning. Though thus trained in the midst of Romanism, and under the care of one of the most acute plotters for the restoration of the Catholic religion in Scotland young HAY was preserved from both political and religious taint. And thus a brilliant career was opened for him, which would otherwise have been impossible. He returned to Scotland in 1596, having gained a high reputation as an accomplished scholar; and when he was introduced at Court by his cousin, SIR JAMES HAY of Pitcorthy, afterwards EARL OF CARLISLE, the KING received him at once into favour, and appointed him a Gentleman of the Bedchamber.

In February, 1598-9, he was made Commendator of the Charterhouse, an office which had been unworthily occupied by GEORGE BALFOUR, and his brother, SIR JAMES BALFOUR of Pittendreich page 67]; and though, when he came into the post on the death of the latter in 1600, he found the revenues seriously dilapidated, the title of "Lord and Prior of the Charterhouse" gave him a position in public affairs which he would not have attained without it. That title was never borne by any successor. He had the good fortune to assist in defending the KING against the RUTHYENS in the Gowrie House incident, in 1600, and shortly afterwards he was rewarded with the honour of knighthood. When the project of the colonization of the Lewes [vide page 81] was revived by the Fife Barons, in 1608, SIR GEORGE entered with spirit into the scheme., but failed to bring it to a successful issue. His experiences in the North of Scotland, however, led him to propose and carry out a more important undertaking for the advancement of the national prosperity, by the establishment of works at Letterewe, near Loch Maree, for the manufacture of iron. This may be regarded as the earliest serious attempt made in Scotland to, develop an industry which has since reached gigantic proportions.

The ruins of SIR GEORGE HAY's furnaces may still be seen at Letterewe, and so late as 1772 there were traces of his work existing in the locality special Act of Parliament was passed in October, 1612, giving SIR GEORGE HAY of Netherliff the exclusive privilege of making iron and glass in Scotland, and nine years later (4th August, 1621) he had a licence from Parliament to transport and sell the iron made by him in any free Royal Burgh. SIR GEORGE was made Clerk Register of Scotland in 1616, and was constituted Lord High Chancellor in 1622. Five years later (4th May, 1627) he was created a peer, by the title of VISCOUNT OF DUPPLIN and LORD HAY of Kinfauns; and in 1633 he was made EARL OF KINOUL. During his life he had acquired vast estates both in the Hebrides and North of Scotland, and in Forfarshire and Perthshire, and was regarded as one of the wealthiest nobles of' the period. "His Lordship," writes SIR ROBERT DOUGLAS, "enjoyed the Chancellor's place with the approbation of the whole Kingdom and the applause of all good men, for his justice, integrity, sound judgment, and eminent sufficiency, till his death, which happened at London, on the 16th of December, 1634.

His body was conveyed to Scotland, and on the 19th August, 1635, was. Interred in the Church of Kinnoul, where a sumptuous monument was erected to his memory, being a statue of his Lordship of the full size, dressed in his robes as Chancellor, and reckoned a strong likeness" There are two portraits of SIR GEORGE HAY in the collection at Dupplin Castle, one of them by FERDINAND, showing him in his youth, dressed in Court armour; and the other, attributed to GEORGE JAMESONE, the Scottish VANDYCK, representing him in his Chancellor's robes towards the close of his life.

The first EARL OF KINNOUL was connected with Dundee by his marriage with MARGARET, daughter of SIR JAMES HALIBURTON of Pitcur, who died nearly two years before him (4th April, 1633). His present representative (though not his direct descendant) is GEORGE HAY, eleventh EARL OF KINNOUL.

Iain D. McIntosh, Friends of Dundee City Archives