James Hay, 15th Earl of Erroll

James Hay, 15th Earl of Erroll (20 April 1726 – 3 July 1778) was a Scottish nobleman and the son of William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock.[i]

The Earl of Erroll
James Hay (1726-1778), 15th Earl of Erroll, by Joshua Reynolds.jpg
James Hay (1726-1778), 15th Earl of Erroll by Joshua Reynolds, in coronation robes, holding the baton of Lord High Constable of Scotland
Born20 April 1726
Died3 July 1778 (1778-07-04) (aged 52)
Spouse(s)Isabella Carr
ChildrenAugusta Hay
George Hay (16th Earl of Erroll)
William Hay (17th Earl of Erroll)
Lady Margaret Hay
Parent(s)William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock
Anne Livingston of Erroll


Born James Boyd, the eldest son of William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock and Lady Anne Livingston at Falkirk on 26 April 1726, he was known from 1728 to 1746, while his father was Earl of Kilmarnock, by the courtesy title of Lord Boyd.

During the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion his father, the Earl, sided with the Young Pretender, despite both James and his brother William then holding commissions under George II; James in the army, William in the navy. Remaining loyal to the Hanoverians, James then served at the Battle of Culloden, fighting on the opposite side to his father.[2] During the rout following the Jacobite defeat, the Earl was captured and taken into the government camp, dishevelled and bareheaded, where he was reportedly recognised by James, who placed his own hat upon his father's head.[3] This was the last time they were to meet, as the Earl was then transported to London where he was tried for treason and executed the following year; forfeiting all his lands and titles and thus depriving James of his inheritance.[1]

In 1751 however, although the Earldom was abolished, James was permitted to inherit the Kilmarnock estates. These included Dean Castle, the former family seat which had been gutted by a fire in 1735. Trying to recoup some of his father's debts (which he had also inherited), James sold the ruined castle to the 13th Earl of Glencairn.

On 19 August 1758 he succeeded his maternal great-aunt, Mary Hay, 14th Countess of Erroll as the 15th Earl of Erroll,[i] simultaneously changing his surname from Boyd to Hay, as he and his descendants were henceforth known. Along with the title Earl of Erroll he also held the ceremonial hereditary office of Lord High Constable of Scotland.

Between 1770 and 1774 he served as a Representative Peer in the House of Lords.[4]

He died on 3 July 1778 at Callendar House, aged fifty-two.[5]

Marriage and IssueEdit

In 1749, he married Rebecca Lockhart (died 1761), the daughter of Alexander Lockhart, Lord Covington, by whom he had one daughter:[6]

  • Lady Mary Hay (1754–?), married John Scott of Balcomie in 1770, divorced in 1771.

In 1762, he married Isabella Carr (1747–1808), daughter of Sir William Carr, and they had twelve children:[7]


External linksEdit

Academic offices
Preceded by
James Milliken of Milliken
Rector of the University of Glasgow
Succeeded by
Thomas Miller
Masonic offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Eglinton
Grand Master of the
Grand Lodge of Scotland

Succeeded by
George Drummond
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
Mary Hay
Earl of Erroll
Succeeded by
George Hay


  1. ^ a b There is some confusion among the sources on the counting of the Earls. Some sources appear to conflate the William Hay who died in 1522 with his son, William Hay, who was born in 1521. Also, some sources do not include Countess Mary Hay in the count of Earls. This leaves some sources reporting James Hay as the 13th Earl, a difference in the count which is then passed down to his successors.[1]


  1. ^ a b Taylor, James (1887). The great historic families of Scotland. 2. London: J. S. Virtue & co. pp. 373–377. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  2. ^ http://www.thepeerage.com/p3643.htm#i36428
  3. ^ http://www.futuremuseum.co.uk/collections/people/key-people/soldiers,-sailors,-rebels-outlaws/william-boyd-the-4th-earl-of-kilmarnock.aspx
  4. ^ http://www.thepeerage.com/p3643.htm#i36428
  5. ^ http://www.thepeerage.com/p3643.htm#i36428
  6. ^ http://www.thepeerage.com/p3643.htm#i36428
  7. ^ http://www.thepeerage.com/p3643.htm#i36428