The title of Earl of Erroll was created for the Hereditary High Constable of Scotland, Gilbert Hay, who came from a family that had for a long time been closely involved in the running of the country. It seems appropriate to begin with these.
William de la Haye, b.?, d.c.1201
A Knight with the surname de la Haye accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066. From 1153, a descendant, William de la Haye, was Butler of Scotland. The word butler comes from the French boutellier, which means cup-bearer, and became the role of the chief steward of a household. William de la Haye served as Butler to King Malcolm IV. He married Juliana de Soulis, daughter of Ranulph de Soulis, Lord of Liddesdale. In 1174, their son, also William, was hostage for the Treaty of Falaise between King William I of Scotland and King Henry II of England. Around 1178 he was granted the feudal barony of Erroll in Perthshire.
David de la Haye, b.?, d.c.1241
Son of the previous and Eva (background unknown). He was Sheriff of Forfar.
Gilbert de la Haye, b.c.1237, d.c.1262
Son of the previous and Ethna Graham, daughter of Gilbert Graham, 3rd Earl of Strathearn. He held the office of Sheriff of Perth and acted as Regent of Scotland in 1255 and 1258.
Nicholas de la Haye, b.?, d.c.1306
Son of the previous and Lady Idonie Comyn, daughter of William Comyn, 5th Earl of Buchan.
Gilbert de la Haye, b.?, d.1333
Son of the previous and Johanna (background unknown). Gilbert Hay allied himself to Robert Bruce during the Wars of Independence, and was given the position of High Constable of Scotland, an hereditary title previously held by the Comyn family (and before that by the Lords of Galloway), with responsibility as head of the armed forces, chief judge and keeper of the peace, next in precedence only to the royal family. He was also granted lands at Slains in Aberdeenshire by King Robert I in 1309.
High Constables of Scotland (1314)
High Constable, Gilbert de la Haye, as above
High Constable, David de la Haye, b.?, a.1333, d.1346
Grandson of the previous holder, and son of Nicholas de la Haye (b.?, d.1332) (who probably died at the Battle of Dupplin Moor). He died in action at the Battle of Neville’s Cross.
High Constable, Thomas de la Haye, b.?, a.1346, d.1406
Son of the previous holder and an unknown daughter of Sir John Keith of Innerpeffer.
High Constable, William de la Haye, b.?, a.1406, d.1437
Son of the previous holder and Elizabeth Stewart, daughter of King Robert II. He was created 1st Lord Hay following the Act of Parliament in 1428 that separated Lords of Parliament from ordinary Scottish barons.
Lords Hay (1429-1430)
1st Lord Hay, William Hay, as above
2nd Lord Hay, William Hay, b.?, a.1437, d.1461
Grandson of the 1st Lord and Margaret Gray, daughter of Sir Patrick Gray of Broxmouth (progenitor of the Lords Gray), and son of Gilbert Hay (b.?, d.1436) and Alice Hay, a daughter of Sir William Hay of Yester. As Hereditary High Constable and a supporter of James II against the Douglases, he was created 1st Earl of Erroll in 1452, with territories at Erroll in Perthshire and Slains in Aberdeenshire.
Earls of Erroll (1452)
1st Earl of Erroll, William Hay, as above
2nd Earl of Erroll, Nicholas Hay, b.?, a.1461, d.1470
Son of the 1st Earl and Lady Beatrix Douglas, daughter of James Douglas, 7th Earl of Douglas.
3rd Earl of Erroll, William Hay, b.?, a.1470, d.1506-1507
Younger brother of the 2nd Earl. He was made a Privy Counsellor.
4th Earl of Erroll, William Hay, b.?, a.1506-1507, d.1513
Son of the 3rd Earl and Lady Isabella Gordon (b.?, d.b.1485), daughter of George Gordon, 2nd Earl of Huntly. He was made Hereditary Sheriff of Aberdeen. He died at Flodden along with his younger brother Thomas.
5th Earl of Erroll, William Hay, b.?, a.1513, d.1522
Son of the 4th Earl and Christian Lyon, daughter of John Lyon, 3rd Lord Glamis (for whom see the Earls of Kinghorne). He performed the services of Envoy to the courts of England and France, and was made a Privy Counsellor.
6th Earl of Erroll, William Hay, b.c.1521, a.1522, d.1541
Son of the 5th Earl and Elizabeth Ruthven, daughter of William Ruthven, 1st Lord Ruthven (for whom see the Earls of Gowrie). He married Lady Helen Stuart, daughter of John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Lennox, and had one daughter. The title reverted to the heir-male. However, as it given below, this daughter, Jean, married the 8th Earl.
7th Earl of Erroll, George Hay, b.?, a.1541, d.1573-1574
Grandson of the 3rd Earl, and son of Thomas Hay (b.?, d.1513) and Margaret Logie. He was Lord-Lieutenant of Central Scotland. In 1567, he refused to officiate as Hereditary High Constable at the Coronation of James VI, in support of Mary, Queen of Scots.
8th Earl of Erroll, Andrew Hay, b.?, a.1573-1574, d.1585
Son of the 7th Earl and Margaret Robertson.
9th Earl of Erroll, Francis Hay, b.?, a.1585, d.1631
Son of the 8th Earl and Lady Jean Hay (b.c.1540, d.1570), daughter of the 6th Earl. He was a convert to Roman Catholicism, and involved in conspiring against James VI of Scotland and Elizabeth I of England. He joined the earls of Huntly and Crawford in open rebellion in the north of Scotland, only to be surrender when the king arrived in Aberdeen. Though treated leniently, he continued to conspire against the king, and in 1593 he was sentenced to renounce his Catholicism or be considered a traitor. The following year, he defeated a force sent under Argyll to capture him, though he was badly injured and his family seat at Slains Castle razed to the ground. He left Scotland for a time, but returned and finally made his peace with the king. However, he was still at odds with the Church of Scotland and imprisoned for a time at Dumbarton Castle. Several of his daughters married other earls.
10th Earl of Erroll, William Hay, b.?, a.1631, d.1636
Son of the 9th Earl and Elizabeth Douglas, daughter of William Douglas, 6th Earl of Morton. He was a favourite of Charles I, but his extravagance forced him to sell of his estates.
11th Earl of Erroll, Gilbert Hay, b.1631, a.1636, d.1674
Son of the 10th Earl and Lady Anne Lyon (b.?, d.1637), daughter of Patrick Lyon, 1st Earl of Kinghorne. A committed Royalist, he fought for Charles I and Charles II. Knowing that he had no direct heirs, he obtained a regnant regarding the disposition of his titles after his death.
12th Earl of Erroll, John Hay, b.?, a.1674, d.1704
Great-grandson of the 8th Earl and his second wife Lady Agnes Sinclair, daughter of George Sinclair, 4th Earl of Caithness, grandson of George Hay and Isabel Cheyne, daughter of Sir Patrick Cheyne of Esselmont, and son of Sir Andrew Hay and Margaret Kinnaird, daughter of George Kinnaird, 1st Lord Kinnaird of Inchture.
13th Earl of Erroll, Charles Hay, b.?, a.1704, d.1717
Son of the 12th Earl and Lady Anne Drummond, daughter of James Drummond, 3rd Earl of Perth. In the traditions of his family, he was a noted Jacobite and was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle after the first uprising. He died unmarried.
14th Earl (Countess) of Erroll, Mary Hay, b.?, a.1717, d.1758
Younger sister of the 13th Earl. She married but also had no children.
15th Earl of Erroll, James Hay, b.1726, a.1758, d.1778
There being no close male relatives, the earldom passed down the female line via Lady Margaret Hay (b.?, d.1707), sister of the Countess. She married James Livingston, 5th Earl of Linlithgow. Though his titles were forfeit after the 1715 Uprising, their daughter Lady Anne Livingston (b.?, d.1747) married William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock. Though Boyd was attainted and executed after Culloden, which meant that his own titles were forfeit, his son James inherited the earldom of Erroll, and changed his name from Boyd to Hay. He officiated as High Constable at the Coronation of George III and was a Representative Peer from 1770 to 1774. In 1773 he hosted Boswell and Johnson at Slains Castle.
16th Earl of Erroll, George Hay, b.1767, a.1778, d.1798
Son of the 15th Earl and Isabella Carr (b.?, d.1808). He obtained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the 1st Guards and was a Representative Peer from 1796 to 1798.
17th Earl of Erroll, William Hay, b.1772, a.1798, d.1819
Younger brother of the 16th Earl. He held the posts of Lord High Commissioner to the Church of Scotland and Knight Marischal and was a Representative Peer in 1806.
18th Earl of Erroll, William George Hay, b.1801, a.1819, d.1846
Son of the 17th Earl and Alicia Eliot (b.?, d.1812). He served as a Representative Peer and was created 1st Baron Kilmarnock in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. He served as Knight Marischal and as Lord-Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire. He was also made a Knight of the Thistle and a Knight Grand Cross of the Hanoverian Order (GCH).
19th Earl of Erroll, William Harry Hay, b.1823, a.1846, d.1891
Son of the 18th Earl and Elizabeth Fitz-Clarence (b.1801, d.1856), daughter of King William IV of Hanover. He fought in the Crimean War and reached the rank of Major in the Rifle Brigade.
20th Earl of Erroll, Charles Gore Hay, b.1852, a.1891, d.1927
Son of the 19th Earl and Eliza Amelia Gore (b.?, d.1916), grand-daughter of Sir Arthur Saunders Gore, 2nd Earl of Arran of the Arran Islands in the Peerage of Ireland. He fought in the Boer War and First World War, and was made a Knight of the Thistle and Companion of the Bath. He held the post of Lord-in-Waiting (a government whip in the House of Lords) to King Edward VII from 1903 to 1905. He reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Horse Guards.
21st Earl of Erroll, Victor Alexander Sereld Hay, b.1876, a.1927, d.1928
Son of the 20th Earl and Mary Caroline L’Estrange (b.?, d.1934). He entered the diplomatic service and held the post of British High Commissioner to the Inter-Allied Rhineland Commission from 1921 to 1927. Unfortunately he died young.
22nd Earl of Erroll, Josslyn Victor Hay, b.1901, a.1928, d.1941
Son of the 21st Earl and Mary Lucy Victoria Mackenzie (b.?, d.1957), daughter of Sir Allan Russell Mackenzie, 2nd Baronet Mackenzie of Glenmuick. He served as an attaché in Berlin under his father, and was expected to follow him into the diplomatic world, but was infatuated with Lady Idina Gordon, a married woman. Her divorce and re-marriage to Hay was a scandal, and they moved to Kenya, where they joined in the expatriate community. After inheriting his father’s titles, he continued to philander and indulge in a number of vices, including alcohol and drugs, divorcing and marrying again. His new wife died in 1939 and he took up with another married woman. He was murdered in Kenya in 1941, mostly probably by the husband of his latest conquest. This episode inspired the book White Mischief by James Fox. The earldom passed to his daughter, while the barony of Kilmarnock, being a UK title, passed to his brother Gilbert.
23rd Earl (Countess) of Erroll, Diana Denyse Hay, b.1926, a.1941, d.1978
Daughter of the 22nd Earl and Lady Myra Idina Sackville (b.1893, d.1955), daughter of Gilbert George Reginald Sackville, 8th Earl de la Warr. She was created a Dame of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem (D.St.J.).
24th Earl of Erroll, Merlin Sereld Victor Gilbert Hay, b.1948, a.1978
Son of the Countess and her first husband Sir Rupert Iain Kay Moncrieffe, 11th Baronet Moncreiffe (b.1919, d.1985). Educated at Eton and Cambridge, he served in the Queen’s Royal Rifles, and was invested as an Officer of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, was Honorary Colonel of the Royal Military Police Territorial Army from 1992 to 1997, and is a member of the Royal Company of Archers. He was elected to the House of Lords in 1999. As well as being 24th Earl, he is also Hereditary Lord High Constable of Scotland, Chief of Clan Hay, 25th Lord Hay and 12th Baronet Moncrieffe.
The courtesy title for the heir is Lord Hay.
(Last updated: 03/05/2010)