Major Lindsay Fitzgerald Hay
1891 - 1946
Major Lindsay Fitzgerald Hay lived at Follyfaunts in Goldhanger in the 1930s. Although little was know about him from local sources at the time, much has been learnt about him more recently…
He was a serving officer in the Great War, was wounded twice and decorated.
He took part in the abortive offensive of Aubers Ridge in 1915.
At 6ft 11inches was he the tallest man in the army at the time and nicknamed “The Lampost”.
Between the wars he had travelled extensively in the middle east as an intelligence officer.
There are various military references to him as “Lt Lord Hay and Capt Lord Hay”,
however, it has not been confirmed that he possessed an hereditary title.
He wrote and published four books while living at Follyfaunts, Goldhanger in Essex.
“Major L Hay, DSO” is listed as a member of the first Village Hall committee in 1937.
He was remembered locally for his expensive cars.
Towards the end of his life he became a well known collector of the quality early Ming porcelain.
This reputation lives on in the form of “provenance” of what are now very valuable item of Ming china.
He died in 1946, at Nether Stowey in Somerset.
Sources of information:
From.... “Follyfaunts - A History” a booklet written in the 1980s for the then owners of Follyfaunts by historian Peter Bushell...
“Kelly's Directory of the County of Essex for 1937 places Follyfaunts' in the occupation of Lindsay Fitzgerald Hay, a major in the army. There are no very adequate records for the period of the Second World War. They were either never produced or were speedily pulped to help alleviate the chronic post-war paper shortage”.
The late Cyril Southgate recalled a military gentleman from Follyfaunts bringing his expensive car into the village in the 1930s to fill up with petrol at George Stoke’s filling station, and other locals remember the very tall major who lived at Follyfaunts in the mid 1930s with an open topped Bentley that was frequently parked in The Square and Church St.
Major L Hay, DSO & Mrs L Hay are listed as village hall committee members on a poster announcing the opening of the Village Hall in 1937.
Books written by Lindsay Fitzgerald Hay:
1. Rifle Company and Platoon Tactics. -1935
What to do, and how to do it
2. It wasn't a nightmare -1937
3. The Terrible Hand -1937
4. No Mean Tartar -1938
From… Time USA Mar. 22. 1937
IT WASN'T A NIGHTMARE - L.F.Hay - Macmillan $2
A middle-aged English novelist and his ward uncover the black doings of a Balkans munitions-maker; a first book by a veteran British secret agent whose fictive boiling point is lower than Oppenheim's. [probably referring to J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project in the USA – ed.]
From The Catalogue of Copyright Entries…
Copies of the three novels by L F Hay are still available from antiquarian bookshops, and a copy of “It wasn't a nightmare” has been obtained. The 387 page hardback book, published 1937, was printed in the USA. No information is given about the author in the book and there is nothing in the narrative to link the village of Goldhanger to the book.
The plot is very Ian Fleming/James Bond like, (Fleming’s first Bond book wasn’t written until 1953). Written in the first person, the hero is an intelligence officer recalled from a fishing trip in Scotland by his boss, the head of British intelligence, to undertake an overseas assignment to track down a new material remarkably like heavy water used in nuclear weapons. The book was serialised in an Austrian newspaper in 1937…
“Just as some of these infernal, self-satisfied super-scientists are always trying to split the atom**, indifferent whether in the process they shall detonate us into dust, so some wretched chemist, grubbing about in a War Department laboratory on Salisbury Plain, had invented a liquid which, though portable in glass tubes, would bum through steel as effectively as a wineglassful of vitriol will destroy a human face. …Starling was murdered in his laboratory three days ago! But his invention hasn't been suppressed, very much the reverse. It appeared that the murderers had got away with Starling's pet copy of his formula for making the stuff. He had been fool enough to carry one in his pocket.”
The hero takes his friend in a large Cadillac to the Pyrenees, and then they take the car on the Luxuriatic cruise ship to The Balkans. Expensive hotels, cocktails, troubles with the local police, car chases around the Balkan states, secret rooms and trap doors, and shoot-outs with automatic weapons are involved before their mission is successfully completed in Istanbul. The hero is thanked by the Governor on Istanbul and the American ambassador.
The words quoted above seem incredible, considering they were written in 1937 by a serving, (or perhaps just retired) British intelligence officer, just 5-years after Cockcroft and Walton announced splitting the atom in 1932. It was not until 5-years after the book was published, in 1942, that Oppenheimer was appointed the director of the Manhattan Project, to create the world’s atomic bomb and 8-years before the atomic bomb was actually detonated in 1945.
This was all the more incredible as this was also the era of spying by Messrs Burgess Blunt, MacClean, Philby & Blake:
Anthony Blunt was recruited as a Soviet agent In the early 1930s
Guy Burgess became a spy in 1934
Donald Maclean he was recruited as a Soviet agent in 1938
Kim Philby became a spy after joining MI6 in 1940
George Blake switched sides in 1950
In September 1939 a 3-page article appeared in Homes & Gardens about the major and his home in Goldhanger. The article tells us that his fourth book “No Mean Tartar” is semi-autobiographical and based partly on house Follyfaunts and his cook at the time. The article also gives as a fascinating insight into what Follyfaunts was like inside and out when the major lives there in 1939, including scenes showing some of the Major’s Ming china.
The lengthy biography of Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery Monty, the making of a general (1887-1942) written by Nigel Hamilton in 1981 is based on Montgomery’s private papers, and reveals a complex relationship with military leaders and has many ydetails about his personal life. “Capt L F hay" is named in the caption to a large photograph in the book (adjacent to page 236) amongst a extensive group of officers with Montgomery at the Sandhurst staff college in 1927. Capt Hay is seen standing at the end of a row of other officers who are all seated on a raised platform, and he towers above the man standing in front of him. This demonstrates Hay’s exceptional stature, although it would not be apparent from a cursory look at the picture without knowledge of his height…
From an exchange of information with members of… http://www.britishbadgeforum.com
There is a picture of him in “A Serious Disappointment”, a book about Aubers Ridge.
He's 6' 11", may be LT Hay.
It could be Capt Lindsay Fitzgerald Hay of the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders),
who was commissioned into the Regiment on 26 Aug 14.
He was wounded twice during the war, was mentioned in despatches on 28 Nov 17
and was awarded the 1914-15 Star.
Captain Lindsay Fitzgerald Hay Royal Highlanders.
At 6ft 11 1/2 inches was he the tallest man in the British army.
On the left is a postcard dated Aug 1918. On the right is a photo entitled: Capt. L.F. Hay and two Ghurkhas, India 1925
The message on the reverse of the postcard on the right reads:
“This tall man is Captain (Lord) Hay of The Black Watch. He is the tallest officer in the British Army and was for a time my company commander”.
The following is from the publication: Officers of The Black Watch 1725-1986
Hay, Lindsay Fitzgerald:
Public Schools Commission 2/Lt 26 Aug 1914,
Lt 26 Sep 1914;
wounded in France 22 Oct 1914, and Sept 1915;
Capt 2 March 1916;
GSO3 2 Aug 1917;
Bde Major 27 Nov 1917;
GSO2 4 Aug 1919;
Staff Capt 2 March 1928;
Major 26 Feb 1930;
GSO2 25 Sep 1930; [GSO2=General Staff Officer, 2nd grade]
Died 4 Feb 1946.
He receives a brief mention in Great War by Lionel Sotheby ISBN O 8214 1178 0:
Feb 21 1915. Lt Lord Hay has just turned up. He was wounded and has now just come back bringing a draft of 67 men. Hay is an immense fellow being just over 6 foot 11 inches. Indeed at first coming out of my dwelling I thought a lampost had been suddenly erected till he turned round.
A foot note reads:
Lt Lord Hay, wounded 22 Oct 1914 at Ypres and again at Loos 25 Sept 1915 was reputed to be the tallest soldier in the British Army.
[no other references to Major Hay being a “Lord” have been found - Ed]
From the Regimental History Vol 1
L F Hay was present at the following battles: Aisne 1914, Ypres 1914, Neuve Chapelle 1915, Aubers Ridge 1915, Loos 1915
From … The Calendar Of The School Of Oriental Studies, University Of London – 1937: Major L. F. Hay is listed as a governor
Extracts taken from an earlier website entitled: CARP: Chinese Art - Research into Provenance, att the Department of History of Art, University of Glasgow…
Major Lindsay Fitzgerald Hay (1891-1946), of Bath, was a collector of early Ming porcelain, usually of the highest quality. He came from a distinguished military family, his grandfather being Admiral James Beckford L. Hay (1796-1842), and his father, Captain Albert Washington Hay (1854-1942). He himself was commissioned into the Royal Highlanders (Black Watch), in 1914, took part in the abortive offensive of Aubers Ridge in 1915 and was Mentioned in Dispatches in 1917. He was reputed to be the tallest man in the British Army during his period of service (6'11"). Sales of his collection were held at Sotheby’s in June 1939, and June 1946, the latter by order of the executors. At the time of his death on 7 February 1946, he was resident at Old House, Nether Stowey in Somerset.
Sotheby & Co., 16 June 1939, ‘The well-known collection of rare early Ming blue and white porcelain. The property of Major L.F. Hay’.
Sotheby & Co., 25 June 1946, ‘Catalogue of important Chinese ceramics, the property of late Major Lindsay F. Hay, sold by order of the executors; and others’.
Adrian Bristow, 'A Serious Disappointment: The Battle of Aubers Ridge, 1915 and the Subsequent Munitions Scandal', London, 1995.
Extracts from the website … Bluett Essay, by Dominic Jellinek [Bluett & Sons were famous London Ming porcelain dealers]
One of the more unusual - it is tempting to say eccentric - of the earlier collectors was Major Lindsay F. Hay. The picture that may be built up from the Bluett Day Books and, to a lesser extent from those of Messrs. John Sparks, can only be a partial one and merely hints at a more interesting story. Hay was well known to the older members of the London Chinese trade as the man who built up a fine collection fairly quickly, sold it at auction and then a few years later built up a second, very similar one, buying back a number of his old pieces in the process.
Hay made his first purchase from Bluetts in March 1938, three Ming dynasty blue and white bowls and on the same day made his first purchase from Sparks, a Xuande blue and white dragon jar and cover, lot 37 from the Wu Lai-tse sale, for £32. He made a few further purchases from both firms, acquired other Wu Lai-tse pieces from Yamanaka and H.R.N. Norton, then put his collection up for sale, in June 1939, at Sotheby's. Billed as The Well Known Collection of Rare Early Ming Blue and White Porcelain. The Property of Major Lindsay F. Hay, of Bath, it comprised 48 items, mostly 15th century, including three Chenghua "Palace bowls". The group sold for a total of £1,275.
Major Hay appears again in Bluetts Day Books in October 1943 and over a period of almost exactly two years purchased 36 pieces, mainly 15th century with a few 16th century, all blue and white, including a group of eight pieces that had been sold in his 1939 sale to the collector Lionel Edwards. (At the Edwards estate sale in February 1945 he paid £625 for pieces that had raised only £234 in his 1939 sale). He seems to have made no purchases from Sparks at this time and must have died towards the end of 1945. In June 1946 the collection was sold, again at Sotheby's, similarly billed as The Well Known Collection of Chinese Blue and White Porcelain of the 15th and 16th Centuries. The Property of the Late Lindsay F. Hay. This group comprised 66 lots, again with three Chenghua "Palace bowls", and made a total of £3,437:10 (see Plate 30 & Plate 31). As with the Paget collection, Hay pieces still come up for sale from time to time, almost always of the highest quality.
In a sense collectors such as Paget and, in his first manifestation, Lindsay Hay, with regard to the Imperial ceramics they purchased, were "first generation" buyers in that many of the pieces they bought were not long out of the Palace stores and had not before been in private hands.
From a Christies webpage…
The Imperial Sale
of important Chinese ceramics and works of art
27 May 2009, at Christie's, The Convention Hall, London
A Very Rare Ming Blue and White 'Sea Creatures' Dish from the Chenghua Period
Price realized: $1,091,229
Provenance: Major Lindsay F. Hay, previously sold at Sotheby's London, 25 June 1946
From a Sotherby webpage…
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Auction Date: Apr 2008
A fine and extremely rare blue and white 'waves' leys jar,
Zhadou mark and period of xuande
Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 9,847,500 HKD
Wu Lai-hsi Collection, Sotheby's London, 26th May 1937, lot 29
Major L.F. Hay Collection, Sotheby's London, 16th June 1939, lot 87
Items form Major Hay’s early Ming porcelain collection still occasionally appear on the market and demand ever increasing prices at aution.
Sotheby’s Imperial Sale May 2009
A Very Rare Ming Blue and White 'Sea Creatures' dish from the Chenghua Period
Provenance: Major Lindsay F. Hay
Previously sold at Sotheby's London on 25 June 1946
Price realized: $1,091,229
Major Lindsay Fitzgerald 1891-1946