Hay, (I) EDMUND, Jesuit, and envoy to Mary Queen of Scots, b. 1540?; d. at Rome, November 4, 1591. He was the son of Peter Hay of Megginch (castle still standing), the bailie of Errol, and related to the earl of that title. In 1562 (being already a B.D., probably of Paris University) he was selected to accompany Father Nicolas de Gouda (Floris), S.J., on his mission (June to September, 1562) from Pius IV to Mary Queen of Scots, then lately returned to Scotland. Hay practically took charge of the mission, and conducted de Gouda amid many dangers to the queen’s presence in a small room at Holyrood, while the majority of the court were hearing a Calvinistic sermon; and he acted as interpreter during that important meeting, a full account of which will be found in de Gouda’s report (Pollen, “Papal Negotiations”, 113-161). Before their return to the continent, Hay had persuaded a small band of young men to accompany him and to offer themselves to the Society. They comprised William Crichton, Robert Abercromby (the future chaplain of Queen Anne of Denmark), James Tyrie, James Gordon, and two others, all of whom did splendid service for their country in later years. Hay made his studies at Rome with rapidity and distinction. Sent to Innsbruck in 1564, he became confessor to the archduchesses of Austria, and gained such favor that he was with difficulty removed to Paris to become rector of Clermont college. He was already regarded as the probable head of the Scottish mission, and was commissioned to report to Rome on the varying fortunes of that country and its queen. In 1566, St. Pius V resolved to send Bishop, afterwards Cardinal, Laureo to Mary as nuncio, and Hay was to accompany him. Hay started first (November 6) with the Piedmontese envoy Du Croc, to see what could be done. Their object was to induce the queen to break with Murray, Lethington, and the other Protestant ministers, whose conduct in the violent scenes that had accompanied the murder of Rizzio showed that they were not only faithless, but capable of appalling crime.
On January 14, 1567, the momentous interview took place. The last Catholic sovereign of Scotland was receiving the last envoys from Rome to Holyrood. If they had had the inspiration to say exactly the right thing, and to urge it with sufficient skill, her whole future might have been changed. Unfortunately, Laureo had ordered Hay to ask for the execution of the treacherous ministers, and this was demanding more than Mary was at all likely to grant. She answered that “she could not stain her hands with her subjects’ blood”. Before the envoys could return, the queen’s refusal became relatively unimportant in consequence of the murder of Darnley (February 10): a crime carried out with the connivance, if not the full consent, of that party in Mary’s council from whose influence Father Hay had wished her to free herself. He was in Edinburgh at the time, and his reports, being those of a friendly, well-informed witness, cannot but be considered as of the greatest importance in regard to the question of Mary’s guilt or innocence. Like the other representative Catholics, who were at that moment in touch with the circumstances of the case, he took a view adverse to Mary, and afterwards significantly described her as “peccatrix”. Back in Paris, March 15, 1567, Hay was soon appointed provincial of France, till September 6, 1574, during the ‘difficult years that covered the conflict between the University of Paris and Father Maldonatus. He was next rector of the college of Pont-a-Mousson, till 1581. He then returned again to Paris and filled the responsible post of consultor of the Province. In 1585, he was sent back the third time to Scotland with Father James Gordon, but was forced to return after two or three years, so severe was the persecution. He was once more placed in high office, called to Rome, and chosen “assistant” for Germany and France, but his health was undermined by the severities of his missionary life, and he soon died.
(2) JOHN HAY, kinsman and contemporary of Edmund, of the family of Hay of Dalgetty; b. 1546; d. at Pont-a-Mousson, 1608; a well-known scholar, professor, and writer. When a student he fell into consumption and was spitting blood. While going to consult a doctor at Strasburg, in 1576, he found that a Protestant (? Ambrose, Pape of Wittenberg), was challenging Catholics to disputation and that no one would appear against him. The Scot promptly entered the lists and soon defeated his adversary. He then returned to Scotland for a while, and was completely restored by his native air. He was afterwards stationed at Tournon, where he carried on long and vigorous polemics against the Huguenots at La Rochelle, especially with Jean de Serres, and in later life he published Latin translations of Jesuit letters from the missions.
J. H. POLLEN