Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Hay
Designation: Architect
Born: 17 May 1818
Died: 30 May 1888
Bio Notes: William Hay was born at Dykeside, Peterhead on 17 May 1818, the son of William Hay, grain merchant, and his wife Jean Alexander. He was apprenticed as a joiner but broke his leg in a fall when working on Ellishill House, and encouraged by his doctor, studied architecture during his convalescence, his first job being St James Episcopal Church, Cruden Bay, 1842-43. In 1844 he married his first wife Janet Reid (1819-60) and moved to Edinburgh as an assistant with John Henderson in order to gain experience. In 1846 he moved to George Gilbert Scott's in London and was entrusted with the building of St John's Cathedral, Newfoundland for which he travelled extensively in England and Scotland in late 1846 and early 1847 recruiting craftsmen and ordering materials. He sailed in April 1847 with his wife and her brother Thomas, who was his ward, and remained in Newfoundland until the completion of the nave of St John's in 1850. In 1848-49 he was consulted by Bishop Reid on James Cranston of Oxford's designs of 1844 for Holy Trinity Cathedral, Hamilton, Bermuda and made alterations in the course of execution, but no other work is recorded in his years at St Johns.

In 1850-53 he seems to have at least intermittently been based in Peterhead where he built St John's Episcopal Church at Longside and No 22 Broad Street for his mother, but he visited Montreal and Chicago with a view to setting up practice before finally settling on Toronto, probably late in 1853. There he became Vice-President of the Mechanics Institute and Secretary of the Association of Architects Civil Engineers and Provincial Surveyors of Canada, but after his wife died childless in 1860 he abruptly departed in 1861, handing over his very prosperous practice to his assistant Henry Langley. In 1862 he was in Bermuda and in 1863 in Halifax having formed a short-lived partnership with David Stirling.

In 1864, however, he returned to Scotland, married Jemima Huddleston (1838-1905) of Ryde, Isle of Wight, by whom he had one daughter, Fanny, and set up practice in Edinburgh, although much of his business was in Peterhead where he appears to have had a hand in laying out Chapel Street for the Police Commissioners, building the South Free Church, the Caledonian Hotel and the Music Hall. He appears to have returned with some wealth as he built Rabbit Hall on Hamilton Street, Portobello, for his new wife, exhibiting the design at the RSA in 1865. In 1868 he began to establish a significant Borders clientele with the very large Kingsknowes for the millowner Adam Lees Cochrane, and in 1871 the publisher William Chambers gave him the commission for the restoration of St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, leading to much further church work. In December 1875 Hay wrote to George Henderson, the son of his former employer and then in an unhappy partnership with Alexander Davidson in Geelong, suggesting that he might return. The Davidson and Henderson partnership was closed early in 1876 and Henderson sailed for home. Hay took him into partnership in 1877.

Hay’s transatlantic connections paid off when his cathedral at Bermuda was burnt on 27 January 1884. A new cathedral on a much larger scale was commenced and in parallel a new Government House. A trusted assistant Alexander Pratt was sent out to build them, a team of Edinburgh masons being recruited for the carved work. The foundation stone of the new cathedral was laid on 1 May 1886 but in the autumn of 1887 Hay’s health failed and the main responsibility for them fell on Henderson.

Hay died at Rabbit Hall on 30 May 1888. he had then been ill for eight months.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 10Dykeside, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, ScotlandPrivate1818Before 1844Place of birth
Item 2 of 10Newfoundland, CanadaBusiness18471850 
Item 3 of 10Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, ScotlandBusiness18501853 
Item 4 of 10Toronto, CanadaBusinessLate 18531861 
Item 5 of 10Bermuda, West IndiesBusiness1862 *  
Item 6 of 10Halifax, CanadaBusiness1863 *  
Item 7 of 107, Hill Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 1864c. 1869 
Item 8 of 1017, Hill Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 1869c. 1883Appears as Hay & Henderson from c.1878)
Item 9 of 10Rabbit Hall, Hamilton Street, Portobello/Joppa, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1873 or 187430 May 1888Home and place of death
Item 10 of 102, Hill Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 1884c. 1887 

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 4John Henderson18441846Assistant 
Item 2 of 4(Sir) George Gilbert Scott1846 Assistant 
Item 3 of 4Stirling & Hay18631864Partner 
Item 4 of 4Hay & Henderson18771888Partner 

Buildings and Designs

This architect was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 66 PromenadeJoppa EdinburghScotlandNo date
Item 2 of 661842St James Episcopal ChurchCruden Bay AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 3 of 661847St Annes Episcopal ChurchCoupar Angus PerthshireScotland 
Item 4 of 661847St John the Baptist CathedralSt John's NewfoundlandCanadaExecuted nave of St John's Cathedral for Sir G G Scott.
Item 5 of 661848Holy Trinity CathedralHamiltonBermudaBermudaWest IndiesExecuted James Cranston's designs (with modifications)
Item 6 of 661850Mission ChurchSt Francis Harbour LabradorCanadaWith Rev William Grey
Item 7 of 66c. 185122 Broad StreetPeterhead AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 8 of 66c. 1851Premises for KiddPeterhead AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 9 of 661852St Margaret's Episcopal ChurchMeigle PerthshireScotlandGiven in Scottish Ecclesiastical Journal
Item 10 of 661853St John's Episcopal ChurchLongside AberdeenshireScotland'Buildings of Scotland' gives 1847 as date
Item 11 of 661853Toronto General Hospital  TorontoCanada 
Item 12 of 661854Christ ChurchBrampton OntarioCanadaScheme drawn up
Item 13 of 661854RC House of Providence, Toronto  TorontoCanada 
Item 14 of 661855Gould Street UP Church, Toronto  TorontoCanada 
Item 15 of 661855St Basil's Church and St Michael's College  TorontoCanada 
Item 16 of 66c. 1855ParsonageLongside AberdeenshireScotlandPossibly by Hay ('Buildings of Scotland')
Item 17 of 661856St George's ChurchNewcastle OntarioCanada 
Item 18 of 66c. 1856Old Parliament Buildings  TorontoCanadaExtensions, new legislative chamber
Item 19 of 66c. 1856Timber Church for Garrison on Victoria Square  TorontoCanada 
Item 20 of 66c. 1857Masonic Hall  TorontoCanada 
Item 21 of 661858Trinity Church Schools  TorontoCanadaAddition of schools
Item 22 of 661858Trinity College  TorontoCanadaProposed addition
Item 23 of 661859Yorkville Town HallYorkville OntarioCanada 
Item 24 of 661860Holy Trinity Parsonage, Toronto  TorontoCanada 
Item 25 of 661860Oaklands  TorontoCanada 
Item 26 of 66c. 1860Bank of MontrealHamilton OntarioCanada 
Item 27 of 66c. 1860Scadding House  TorontoCanada 
Item 28 of 661863PoorhousePeterhead AberdeenshireScotlandPlans prepared and shown to committee
Item 29 of 661864All Saints Episcopal Church  EdinburghScotlandSubmitted design in limited competition
Item 30 of 661866Christ Church Episcopal ChurchKincardine O'Neil AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 31 of 661866New Maud PoorhouseMaud AberdeenshireScotlandSubmitted plans - rejected
Item 32 of 661868KingsknowesGalashiels SelkirkshireScotland 
Item 33 of 66After 1868Rabbit HallPortobello EdinburghScotlandNorth west addition - for himself
Item 34 of 661869Tenement, Brighton Place  EdinburghScotland 
Item 35 of 661870sDevelopment of the New TownPeterhead AberdeenshireScotlandDevelopment of the New Town - probably responsible
Item 36 of 661870sSchoolWest Linton PeeblesshireScotland 
Item 37 of 661870sWest Linton School and Episcopal ChurchWest Linton PeeblesshireScotlandAdapted for use as church alone.
Item 38 of 66c. 1870Caledonian HotelPeterhead AberdeenshireScotlandAttribution by McKean
Item 39 of 661871St Giles Cathedral  EdinburghScotlandRestoration of choir (included designs of statuettes on reredos)
Item 40 of 661872Music HallPeterhead AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 41 of 661874AbbotshillGalashiels SelkirkshireScotland 
Item 42 of 661875St John's Episcopal ChurchLongside AberdeenshireScotlandHigh altar, reredos and piscina
Item 43 of 661876St James Episcopal ChurchCruden Bay AberdeenshireScotlandAdditions
Item 44 of 661878Free South ChurchPeterhead AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 45 of 661878St Giles Cathedral  EdinburghScotlandRestoration of south transept
Item 46 of 661878St Paul's ChurchGalashiels SelkirkshireScotland 
Item 47 of 661879St Mary's Episcopal ChurchHamilton LanarkshireScotlandChancel extended
Item 48 of 661880Christ Episcopal Church RectoryDuns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 49 of 66c. 1880Volunteer Drill HallPeterhead AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 50 of 661881Old St Paul's Episcopal Church  EdinburghScotlandSucceeded to commission.
Item 51 of 661881St Giles Cathedral  EdinburghScotlandRestoration of nave and north transept
Item 52 of 661881St Peter's Episcopal ChurchGalashiels SelkirkshireScotlandChancel, south aisle, hall and schools
Item 53 of 661882St Peter's Episcopal ChurchPeebles PeeblesshireScotlandChancel, organ chamber, vestry and porch
Item 54 of 661883Old Kirkyard, Memorial to Broun FamilyKirkoswald AyrshireScotland 
Item 55 of 661883St Andrew's ChurchPeebles PeeblesshireScotlandRestoration of medieval tower
Item 56 of 661883St Giles Cathedral  EdinburghScotlandVestry, session house, west door, north door, screen in north transept
Item 57 of 661884AuchgealRavelston EdinburghScotland 
Item 58 of 661884Church of the Holy SpiritDistington CumberlandEngland 
Item 59 of 661884ResidenceNorth Berwick East LothianScotland 
Item 60 of 661884St Giles Cathedral  EdinburghScotlandRoyal Pew
Item 61 of 661884Woodlands HouseGalashiels SelkirkshireScotlandExtensive additions
Item 62 of 661885Government HouseHamilton?BermudaBermudaWest Indies 
Item 63 of 661885Holy Trinity CathedralHamiltonBermudaBermudaWest IndiesEastern half of the church
Item 64 of 661885St John the Baptist CathedralSt John's NewfoundlandCanadaReredos
Item 65 of 661886Edinburgh Municipal Buildings  EdinburghScotlandUnsuccessful competition design
Item 66 of 661886St Paul's ChurchGalashiels SelkirkshireScotlandAddition of spire


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 2Canadian Biography2005Dictionary of Canadian Biography Toronto, University of Toronto PressArticle by F H Armstrong
Item 2 of 2Magrill, Barry2004"Development" and Ecclesiology in the Outposts of the British Empire: William Hay's Gothic Solutions for Church Build…V.2, nos 1-2Journal for the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada, pp15-26 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Architect7 June 1888  Obituary
Item 2 of 3Peterhead Sentinelbetween 1 June 1888 and 8 June 1888  Obituary
Item 3 of 3The Globe5 October 1888  Obituary


© All rights reserved. Edinburgh Architectural Association 1907 Exhibition Catalogue  

© All rights reserved. Edinburgh Architectural Association 1907 Exhibition Catalogue