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Hay Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: SERVA JUGUM (keep the yoke)

Let me share the intriguing history of your family, the Hays. The medieval legend surrounding the founding of your family tells of a brave ploughman and his two sons who, during a battle led by King Kenneth II against the Danes in 971, stopped the Scots from fleeing by using their oxen’s yokes and even charged into battle with their ploughshare. The grateful king, impressed by their bravery, elevated them to the ranks of nobility. It is an unusual story, emphasizing humble origins rather than princely lineage, particularly in a family of nobles. However, it is important to note that your family is actually descended from powerful Norman nobles who accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066 and later settled in Scotland. The surname Hay, initially recorded as de Haya, originates from La Haye in the Cotentin Peninsula of Normandy.

The lands of Errol in Perthshire were granted to William de Haya by charter around 1172. Sir Gilbert Hay, a loyal companion-in-arms of Robert the Bruce, stood by the king during the challenging early campaigns to secure his crown. As a reward, Gilbert was granted the lands of Slains in Aberdeenshire and appointed as the Lord High Constable of Scotland. Sir Thomas Hay, the seventh Baron of Erroll, married Elizabeth, daughter of Robert II. The Hays did not embrace the Reformation and, along with other Catholic nobles, sought a Catholic alliance by negotiating with Philip II of Spain. In response, King James VI personally oversaw the capture and destruction of Old Slains Castle, leaving it in ruins. Eventually, Erroll realized the wisdom of converting to the reformed religion during a period of exile.

Throughout the years, the Hays remained loyal to the Stuarts and participated in both Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745. After the thirteenth Earl’s sister passed away in 1758, the title was inherited by her great nephew, James Boyd, who adopted the surname Hay. The nineteenth Earl, William Hay, fought in the Crimean War and was wounded at the Battle of Alma in 1854. He also founded the fishing village of Port Erroll. In 1941, the twenty-second Earl became the victim of a notorious murder in Kenya. In 1950, Diana, Countess of Erroll, established the Clan Hay Society, which now has branches worldwide. She was married to Sir Iain Moncreiffe, a Scottish herald and antiquarian. Their son, Merlin, the twenty-fourth Earl of Erroll, currently serves as the chief of the clan.

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The Family Crest

Wherever in the world you live, embrace your family heritage and adorn your home with a timeless symbol of your family legacy with our crafted Family Crests.

Family Crest Motto: SERVA JUGUM (keep the yoke)

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