Hay, William

, esq. an agreeable English writer, was born at Glenburne in Sussex, Aug. 21, 1695, and educated partly at Newick, near Lewes, and partly at Lewes. In 1712 he went to Oxford, which he left without a degree, and removed to the Temple. Here he studied the law until a defect in his sight from the small pox obliged him to relinquish it. In 1718 he travelled in England and Scotland, and in 1720 on the continent, where he was a very acute observer and inquirer. After his return he resided for some years at his house in Sussex.

When lord Hardwicke was called up to the house of lords in 1734, he was chosen to succeed him in representing the borough of Seatbrd in the Commons; and he represented this borough for the remainder of his life. He defended the measures of sir Robert Walpole in general, but was far from being subservient or indiscriminate in his approbation of public measures. In 1728 he published his 1 Essay on Civil Government;“in 1730 his poem entitled” Mount Caburn,“dedicated to the duchess of Newcastle, in which he celebrates the beauties of his native country, and the virtues of his friends. In 1735 he published” Remarks on the Laws relative to the Poor, with proposals for their better relief and employment; and at the same time | brought in a bill for the purpose. He made another attempt of this kind, but without effect. In May 1738, he was appointed a commissioner of the victualling-office. In 1753 appeared “Religio Philosophi; or, the principles of morality and Christianity, illustrated from a view of che universe, and of man’s situation in it.” This was followed, in 1754, by his “Essay on Deformity;” in which he rallies his own imperfection in this respect with much liveliness and good humour. “Bodily deformity,” says he, “is very rare. Among 558 gentlemen in the House of commons, I am the only one that is so. Thanks to my worthy constituents, who never objected to my person, and I hope never to give them cause to object to my behaviour.” The same year he translated Hawkins Browne “De Immortalitati Animse.” In 1755 he translated and modernized some “Epigrams of Martial;” but survived this publication only a short time, dying June 22, the same year. A little time before, he had been appointed keeper of the records in the Tower; and it is said that his attention and assiduity, during the few months he held that office, were eminently serviceable to his successors.

He left a son, who inherited the imperfect form of his father. This gentleman went into the service of the East India company, where he acquired rank, fortune, and reputation; but, being one of those who opposed Cossim Ally Kawn, and unfortunately falling into his hands, was, with other gentlemen, ordered to be put to death at Patna, October 5, 1762. Mr. Hay’s works were collected by his daughter in two volumes, quarto, 1794, with a biographical sketch, exhibiting his many amiable qualities, and public spirit. 1

1 Life prefixed to his works. Nichols’s Bowyer