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Bishop George Hay (1729-1811)

In the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, most of the anti-Catholic Penal Laws were repealed, except the ones related to the Royal Succession and Royal Marriages. Two years previously, the Scottish Church, in a sign of progress, was divided into three vicariates – the Eastern, Western and Northern Districts. Bishop Hay had died in 1811, but both outcomes were the fruit of his work. To him we owe a great deal. Born into an Episcopalian family in 1729, he was a medical student in Edinburgh at the time of the ’45, and had gone out to help the wounded after the Battle of Prestonpans and then followed the Jacobite army down through England. When it retreated he parted company with them at Edinburgh before the march north which ended at Culloden. He was persuaded to report himself to the authorities when things died down. It was best to do so, he was advised. When they understood he was simply a medical orderly he would be released. In fact he was sent to a prison ship on the Thames.

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