The Clan Hay Society’s popular lecture series, launched in 2021 via Zoom, will resume from next month.

Burgess in the workshop

The Spring series has already been finalised and will begin on 19 February at 7.00 pm UK time, when we will hear from Burgess Hay.  Regular participants will recall we heard from him last year when Burgess, who runs a bagpipe manufacturing business in Forres, led a hugely successful session entitled Meet the Bagpipe Maker, assisted by his son Scott, a multi-medal winning champion piper.  On this occasion, Burgess’s lecture is entitled We were aye Jacobites.  He will examine the adherence of the bulk of the Hay kindred to the Jacobite movement through the 18th century, looking particularly at the experience of his own family as a case study.  Burgess descends from the Hays who were long tenant farmers in Badenyon in the Aberdeenshire parish of Strathdon and his ancestor William Hay fought throughout the ’45 and at the Battle of Culloden, in the regiment of his laird, the celebrated Colonel John Gordon of Glenbuchat.

Professor Gillian Black

On 19 March, we are privileged to welcome Professor Gillian Black, professor of Private Law at the University of Edinburgh, recently appointed Linlithgow Pursuivant Extraordinary at the Court of the Lord Lyon, who specialises in family law and who is the leading expert of our time in matters of inheritance as they relate to titles, chiefship and coats of arms.  She will discuss the occasionally controversial question of succession, looking at how and why the chiefship of the Hays and others has travelled through the female line.  She will also examine some of the trickier aspects of inheritance law now exercising the peerage lawyers, including not only gender, but also legitimacy, adoption, surrogacy, gender reassignment, and looking at a recent case where new DNA evidence saw one chiefly line disinherited.

Lt. Col Peter MacDonald

On 23 April we will be joined by Lt. Col. Peter MacDonald, a talented handloom weaver and unquestionably our leading authority on the history of tartan and Highland costume.  He will speak on The Hay Tartans, taking us through the history of tartan from its origins in Highland Scotland, to its adoption by the whole of Scotland, particularly topical in this 200th anniversary year of George IV’s Edinburgh visit, which played a major role in the spread of Highland costume throughout the country.  We are today used to seeing only two patterns: the Hay tartan (which comes in ancient, modern and reproduction colours), and the Hunting Hay.  However we will learn that there are not two tartans associated with the Hays, but at least seven, and that the Hay tartan universally worn today isn’t even the oldest of these.

John Malden, Slains Pursuivant

19 May will see a lecture from John Malden, Slains Pursuivant to the Earl of Erroll and formerly Unicorn Pursuivant at the Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms, in a session entitled The Hays’ Heraldry: What’s the difference? a title that utilises the word ‘difference’ in both its literal and its heraldic context.  John will look at the origins and significance of heraldry and Scotland’s unique heraldic tradition, where arms always follow the name.  Arms in Scotland can therefore reveal much of a family’s history in a way it does not, for example, in England or in many other traditions.

We will then break for the summer months before resuming in September.  Dates for the autumn schedule have yet to be finalised, but the programme will include sessions from the Very Rev Dr Emsley Nimmo, until recently Dean of Aberdeen and Orkney in the Scottish Episcopal Church, who will speak on the importance of Episcopacy and the Jacobite movement with particular regard for the Countess of Erroll’s lands in North East Scotland, and a lecture from a medievalist of Edinburgh University, looking at politics and society in 10th century Scotland, and especially at the Battle of Luncarty and the legendary origin of the Hays.  The 2022 programme will be wrapped up with an interactive concert before Christmas, brought to us by raconteur and folklorist Professor David Purdie, and singer Robyn Stapleton, entitled Song Over Scotland.  They will examine Scotland’s great tradition of song and story, with Robyn singing in all the indigenous languages of Scotland, including Gaelic, Scots, English and Norn, the old language of Shetland.

We hope you will agree this is a programme with something to suit all tastes.