Francis Hay, 9th Earl of Erroll
Francis Hay, 9th Earl of Erroll (30 April 1564 – 16 July 1631), Scottish nobleman, was the son of Andrew, 8th Earl of Erroll, and of Lady Jean Hay, daughter of William, 6th earl. The date of his birth is unrecorded, but he succeeded to the earldom (created 1453) in 1585, was early converted to Roman Catholicism, and as the associate of Huntly joined in the Spanish conspiracies against the throne of Elizabeth I of England.
A letter written by him, declaring his allegiance to the king of Spain, having been intercepted and sent by Elizabeth to James VI in February 1589, he was declared a rebel by the council. He engaged with Huntly and Crawford in a rebellion in the north of Scotland, but their forces surrendered at Aberdeen on the arrival of the king in April; and in July Erroll gave himself up to James, who leniently refrained from exacting any penalty. In September of the same year he entered into a personal bond with Huntly for mutual assistance; and in 1590 displeased the king by marrying, in spite of his prohibition, Lady Elizabeth Douglas, daughter of the 6th Earl of Morton.
He was imprisoned on suspicion of complicity in the attempt made by James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell and Patrick Gray, 6th Lord Gray to surprise the king at Falkland in June 1592; and though he obtained his release, he was again proclaimed a rebel on account of the discovery of his signature to two of the Spanish Blanks, unwritten sheets subscribed with the names of the chief conspirators in a plot for a Spanish invasion of Scotland, to be filled up later with the terms of the projected treaty. After a failure to apprehend him in March 1593, Erroll and his companions were sentenced to abjure Roman Catholicism or leave the kingdom; and on their non-compliance were in 1594 declared traitors.
On 3 October they defeated at Glenlivet a force sent against them under Argyll; though Erroll himself was severely wounded, and Slains Castle, his seat, razed to the ground. The rebel lords left Scotland in 1595, and Erroll, on report of his further conspiracies abroad, was arrested by the states of Zeeland, but was afterwards allowed to escape. He returned to Scotland secretly in 1596, and on 20 June 1597 abjured Roman Catholicism and made his peace with the Kirk. He enjoyed the favor of the king, and in 1602 was appointed a commissioner to negotiate the union with England.
His relations with the Kirk, however, were not so amicable. The reality of his conversion was disputed, and on 21 May 1608 he was confined to the city of Perth for the better resolution of his doubts, being subsequently declared an obstinate "papist", excommunicated, deprived of his estate, and imprisoned at Dumbarton; and after some further vacillation was finally released in May 1611. Lord Erroll died on 16 July 1631, and was buried in the church of Slains. He married
- Mary, daughter of John Stewart, 4th Earl of Atholl
- Margaret, daughter of James Stewart, Earl of Moray
- Elizabeth, daughter of William Douglas, 6th Earl of Morton
By his third wife he had several children, of whom his eldest son, William, succeeded him.
The dispute which began in his lifetime concerning the hereditary office of Lord High Constable between the families of Erroll and of the Earl Marischal was settled finally in favour of the former; thus establishing the precedence enjoyed by the earls of Erroll next after the royal family over all other subjects in Scotland.
- The Erroll Papers (Spalding Club Miscellany, vol. ii. 211);
- Andrew Lang, Hist0ry of Scotland, vol. ii.;
- Hist. MSS. Comm. MSS. of Earl of Mar and Kellie;
- David Calderwood, History of the Church of Scotland;
- John Spalding, Memorials (Spalding Club, 1850);
- Collected Essays of T. G. Law, ed. by Peter Hume Brown (1904);
- M. A. S. Hume, Treason and Plot (1901).
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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