The House of Talla
Sir Edmund Hay of Talla, progenitor of this branch, was the younger son of Sir William Hay of Locherworth and his wife, Alicia Hay of Erroll. Nothing remains of the fortalice of Talla, but the border valley containing the vast Talla reservoir is still there, giving an impression of the remote beauty of his vast, impregnable domain.
The House of Talla is more notable for its cadets than its main line, which was short lived. Sir William, third of Talla, was killed at Flodden in 1513. Sir John, sixth of Talla was one of the murderers of Lord Darnley, husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1567. He was hanged, drawn and quartered in January 1568, meeting his grisly fate in a spirit of bold defiance.
Dugald Hay of Linplum was the younger son of the third laird. Among his five sons were George Hay of Rannes, William Hay of Eddleston and Andrew Hay of Ranfield, all of whom left descendants to found new branches of the clan. George was a Catholic priest, ministering to the Banffshire parish of Rathven. He conformed at the reformation and became Secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots and a very early Moderator of the General Assembly. He secured the estate of Rannes in Banffshire and married a daughter of Henderson of Fordell. He was succeeded in 1588 by his son James, who built the House of Rannes in 1592. The Hays of Muldavit descend from the second laird’s younger son.
The third laird, George Hay of Rannes, married a daughter of Guthrie of Guthrie, Bishop of Moray, and was much involved in the troubled religious affairs of that diocese during the 1640s. His nephew was the renowned Jacobite Alexander Hay of Arnbath, who after the failure of the rebellion made a fortune exporting mineral waters from the continent to England. James Hay, fourth of Rannes, was the father of Alexander Hay of Mountblairy, the ancestor of Major General Andrew Hay of Mountblairy, killed at the Battle of Bayonne in 1814 and commemorated in a splendid monument in St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Also descended from the fourth laird, through his younger son, the Rev. Adam Hay of Asleid, is Charles Hay, Lord Newton, one of the great ‘drinking judges’ of the early 19th century, who would regularly consume bottles of port on the bench.
Andrew Hay, seventh of Rannes, was a leading Jacobite of the ’45 rebellion and led the capture of the city of Manchester during the march south. The leather writing case which was a gift to him from Bonnie Prince Charlie can still be seen at Fyvie Castle. He went into hiding in France after the rebellion (no mean feat for a man who stood 7’2” in height) but returned to his estates in 1780. There is no truth in the much repeated tale that he disinherited his heir on account of the latter’s marriage. In the absence of near male relatives, he was succeeded by his sister’s son, Alexander Leith of Leith Hall, who changed his name to Leith-Hay. This family is now represented by Sir George Forbes-Leith of Fyvie, 4th baronet.
With the execution and disgrace of the last laird of Talla in 1568, representation of their line passed to the descendants of his uncle, William Hay of Barra. The Hays of Barra were a distinguished legal and administrative family who produced a large number of judges in the Scottish courts in the 17th and 18th centuries. Sir William Hay of Lauds and Barra (d. 1654) was appointed Lord Clerk Register in 1633, an office he held until his death. He was the father of 10 sons including Thomas Hay of Alderston, whose descendant, Sir Ronald Hay of Alderston, 12th baronet, is the present Chieftain of this branch.
© Alan Hay 2010