The Hay Family in Scotland

Aberdeen was the ancestral homeland for the Hay family but the actual identity of James’ parents is unknown. The Hay family is so numerous in Aberdeen that to assign James to any particular family is purely guesswork. The time period is so early that we also don't have the additional resources such as census records to aid in tracking the family.

Aberdeen, Scotland
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James Hay’s birth date, derived from the age he stated upon arrival [45] would be about 1788. A search of the Old Parish Registers returns records of a James Hay born or christened between 1785 and 1795 in the County of Aberdeen:

  • bapt. 08/02/1785 to William Hay and Margaret Johnston in Crimond.1
  • bapt. 02/03/1785 to John Hay in Culsamond.2
  • bapt. 01/03/1786 to John Hay and Elspet Duncan in Culsamond.3
  • bapt. 27/02/1787 to Charles Hay in Newhills.4
  • bapt. 21/03/1787 to James Hay in Fyvie.5
  • bapt. 17/05/1789 to William Hay in Peterhead.6
  • bapt. 29/06/1790 to Alexander Hay and Catharine Angus in Saint Nicholas, Aberdeen.7
  • bapt. 05/02/1791 to James Hay in Lonmay.8
  • bapt. 10/02/1792 to Helen Hay in Lonmay.9
  • bapt. 16/06/1794 to John Hay in Cruden.10

There are two additional entries in the International Genealogical Index that have been submitted by patrons and so are less reliable:

  • bapt. 25/08/1787 to Patrick Hay and Barbara Taylor of Old Deer.11
  • born. 04/10/1791 and bapt. 10/10/1791 to Patrick Hay and Margaret Mair of Slains12

There is internet material from an unknown researcher seeking “the parents and birth date of Patrick HAY who married Margaret MAIR 25 Nov 1775 at Slains, Aberdeen. They had 8 children, the last of which was James Hay, born 4 Oct 1791, Slains. He married Ann Barclay 5 Jul 1817, in Old Machar.”13

This is probably based on research using the International Genealogical Index to circumstantially trace James Hay’s family. Unfortunately as we don't know James' native place we have no way of beginning to associate him to any one of these families.

What we do find with some surety is the marriage of James Hay and Ann Barclay on 5 July 1817 in Old Machar, Aberdeen, Scotland.14

Marriage Registration of James Hay and Ann Barclay

Marriage Registration of James Hay and Ann Barclay
Old Parish Registers, General Records Office of Scotland

We also find an Ann Barclay was christened on 16 September 1796 in Old Machar, the daughter of John Barclay and Anne Rae.15 The spelling variation between Ann and Anne is not seen as significant as it was often up to the preference of the scribe. Certainly the time and place are a good match to make this the same individual who would later marry James Hay. Ann was listed as age 38 on the passenger list of the 'Forth', which would make her birth year abt. 1795.16

Baptism Registration of Anne Barclay

Baptism Registration of Anne Barclay
Old Parish Registers, General Records Office of Scotland

John Barclay and Anne Rae had married on 23 October 1791 in Old Machar, Aberdeen, Scotland17 and three children have been traced, Margaret, christened 6 December 1794, Anne, christened 16 September 1796, and John, christened 30 March 1799, all in Old Machar.

Old Machar was described as follows in "The New Statistical Account of Scotland":

The extent of this parish is great, and its form irregular. Its south-east corner forms the north and west boundaries of the city of Aberdeen, or parish of St Nicholas. It extends about three miles up the Dee, by which river it is bounded on the south, and divided from the parish of Nigg, and county of Kincardine. The western boundary stretches in a crooked line from the Dee to the Don, at the distance of about two miles and a-half from the parish church. By this line it is divided from the parishes of Nether Banchory and Newhills. Crossing the Don, it extends a mile and a-half farther up the river, making in all four miles from the river's mouth. On this part the Don divides it from the parishes of Newhills and Dyce; its northern boundary passes by the parishes of New Machar and Belhelvie, till it joins the sea at the Black Dog, forming a sweep, every part of which is distant from the parish church at least four miles. On the east, it is bounded by the sea, from the Black Dog to Aberdeen, the extent of coast being about five miles. Its greatest length, from north to south, may be seven or eight miles, and its greatest breadth about four miles.18

After their marriage James and Ann's first child arrived soon after as Barbara Hay was christened in Saint Nicholas, Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland on 16 November 1818.19 Assuming the association of Ann Barclay as the daughter of John and Anne Barclay is correct, we can rule out using the Scottish naming system with this family, as their first daughter would have been named Ann.

A son followed, with John Hay christened on 16 November 1821 in Old Machar, Aberdeen, Scotland.20 The coincidence of christening dates between the first two children may mean the time of year had special significance to the family.

Another daughter, Sarah, was born around 1822 or 1823 but her birth or christening registration has not been uncovered to date.21 Their next child's birth was registered, Ann Hay was born on 10 July 1825, once again in Old Machar, Aberdeen. Ann was baptised on 12 Oct 1826 by the Rev. David Simpson with Andrew Sutherland and John Hay as witnesses.22

In 1826 the Hay family was comprised of James (38), Ann (31), and their children Barbara (8), John (5), Sarah (3) and Ann (1). A son, James Hay (Jnr.) was added to the brood and baptised on 8 September 182723, and a daughter, Christian Hay, baptised on 16 May 1829, both in Old Machar.24 Finally, Margaret Hay was born in 1831, again the birth registration has not been located, her existence supported by later family documentation.25

Throughout all this time we can only assume that James maintained the family with his carpentry skills, and perhaps as a general labourer. For the baptism of his daughter Ann, James was described as a Wright, in Shene Lane. The John Hay who witnessed that event may represent another relative as John Hay Jnr. would have been only four years old at the time.

James and Ann obviously felt the need for a fresh start, either willingly or as a result of other pressures, as they agreed to a period of indenture for seven years as servants of the Van Diemen's Land Company. This was a huge commitment and one that would completely transform the family. On 10 June 1833 the family were underway for a six month journey to the antipodes. A summary of the family at this point follows.

Name Birth or Baptism Place
HAY, Barbara bapt. 16/11/1818 Aberdeen, Scotland
HAY, John bapt. 16/11/1821 Old Machar, Aberdeen, Scotland
HAY, Sarah born. XX/XX/1823 Aberdeen, Scotland
HAY, Ann born. 10/07/1825 Old Machar, Aberdeen, Scotland
HAY, James bapt. 08/09/1827 Old Machar, Aberdeen, Scotland
HAY, Christian bapt. 16/05/1829 Old Machar, Aberdeen, Scotland
HAY, Margaret born. XX/XX/1831 Aberdeen, Scotland