HAYES, James (1715-1800), of Hollyport, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



12 May 1753 - June 1757
1761 - 1768
11 Feb. 1771 - 1774

Family and Education

bap. 27 Oct. 1715, 1st s. of James Hayes of Hollyport, receiver of the land tax for Berks. 1744-50, by Mary, da. of Richard Aldworth of Stanlake, Berks.  educ. Eton 1725-34; King’s, Camb. 1734, fellow 1737-50; M. Temple 1732, called 1740, bencher 1768, reader 1777, treasurer 1781.  m. 20 Mar. 1750, Jane, da. of James Croxton of Cheshire, 3s. 2da.  suc. fa. 1750.

Offices Held

2nd. justice of Anglesey 1761-78, c.j. 1778-1793.


Hayes was a close personal friend of Lord Feversham, patron of Downton; and after his death an executor of his will and trustee for his children. Like his father and grandfather he was a practising barrister, but not apparently of any great distinction. When in 1756 Feversham solicited to have Hayes made second justice of Chester, Hardwicke commented:1 ‘He urges his great merit, of which I can say nothing because it has not come much in my way.’ Nor was he prominent in the House, and only one speech by him is recorded (on the Minorca inquiry, 26 Apr. 1757).

On the formation of the Devonshire-Pitt Administration, Hayes offered his seat to Pitt (who could not expect to be re-elected at Aldborough); ‘I am sensible of how much more consequence it is to the public that you should be in Parliament than myself ... and I entirely depend on your honour to consider what return you will think proper to make me.’2 Pitt found a seat elsewhere; but the next year Hayes repeated his offer in favour of Charles Pratt, his contemporary at Eton, appointed attorney-general in the Newcastle-Pitt Administration. Pratt accepted, and wrote to Pitt, 30 June 1757:3 ‘This generous behaviour ... deserves a suitable return, and you will concur with me in thinking such a man should not be deceived or disappointed.’ In March 1761 he was appointed a Welsh judge, and at the general election was returned again for Downton.

Fox wrote about him to Fitzmaurice, 15 Mar. 1761:4 ‘I hear he is a very gentlemanlike worthy man, bred to the law, and a man of fortune. He is through the attorney-general much attached I believe to Mr. Pitt, but I don’t know it’; and Barrington to Newcastle, 1 Nov. 1761:5 ‘Hayes, who though made a Welsh judge by Pitt, is your friend.’ Hayes does not appear in Fox’s list of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries. Pitt ‘is always great’, he wrote of the debate of 9 Dec., ‘and in some parts of his speech on this occasion as great as ever he was in his life’; but Hayes voted for the preliminaries.6

He is not in the list of those who voted against the Grenville Administration over Wilkes, 15 Nov. 1763; but Harris includes him among those who ‘left the minority’ on the division of 19 Jan. 1764—which suggests he had previously voted with Opposition, as he did again on 15 Feb. He was absent from the division of 18 Feb., and was classed by Newcastle, 10 May 1764, as a ‘doubtful friend’. In July 1765 Rockingham classed him as ‘contra’, but he did not vote against the repeal of the Stamp Act. He supported the Chatham Administration, and voted with them on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767.

As a trustee of Feversham’s Wiltshire estate, Hayes was involved in the struggle between Thomas Duncombe and Lord Radnor for control of Downton; and seems to have supported Radnor. At the general election of 1768, when Duncombe controlled the borough, he was dropped; and it is not clear why he was returned in 1771. In his last spell in Parliament he supported Government. He did not stand in 1774, when Radnor first challenged Duncombe’s hold on the borough.

Hayes died 9 Sept. 1800.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: J. A. Cannon


  • 1. Add. 32868, f. 122.
  • 2. Hayes to Pitt, 26 Nov. 1756, Chatham mss.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Lansdowne mss.
  • 5. Add. 32930, f. 257.
  • 6. Bedford Corresp. iii. 168.