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Sir John Hay

1816 – 1892

Sir John Hay (1816-1892), pastoralist and politician, graduated in law in his native Scotland before emigrating to New South Wales with his new wife, Mary, in 1838. Arriving in the Amelia Thompson, they settled at Welaregang on the Murray in the Albury district. Successful at squatting, and active in local affairs, in 1856 he was elected as 'a conservative and squatting representative' for the Murrumbidgee to the first Legislative Assembly. Almost immediately he carried a motion of no confidence against Charles Cowper, and questioned the legitimacy of Sir James Martin’s appointment as attorney-general. In 1856-1857 he was secretary of lands and works; during that period he moved to Sydney, but he maintained his runs on the Murrumbidgee. As Hay’s landholdings increased, so did his political standing; he became the member for Murray in 1859. Widely respected for impartiality and honourable conduct as speaker of the House of Assembly from 1862, he was appointed to the Legislative Council (upper house) in 1867 and became its president in 1873. One of his early actions in this position was to increase the size of the Council in order to get laws passed in the best possible form. He was chairman of the Mercantile Bank of Sydney and a director of both the Australian Mutual Provident Society and the European Assurance Society. He spoke at a plethora of banquets and was vice-president of the New South Wales commissions for exhibitions at Philadelphia, Paris, Sydney and Amsterdam. Appointed KCMG in 1878, he was president of the Highland Society of New South Wales; vice-president of the Agricultural Society of New South Wales and the Australian Club; and a founder of the Union Club. Hay died at Rose Bay at the beginning of 1892. Lang’s Crossing Place on the Murrumbidgee was re-named Hay in 1859.

Updated 2018