Chinese export porcelain armorial dinner plate, English or Scottish Market, Qianlong, circa 1770-80. Photo courtesy Cohen & Cohen.

An octagonal dinner plate with a central coat of arms surrounded by drums and flags, the cavetto with a gilt spearhead border, the rim border of bamboo and flowers. Diameter: 9 inches (23cm).

The arms are clearly Hay quartering Gifford, though inaccurately painted.

Hay (correctly): Azure three fraises argent [but here quatrefoils]
Gifford (correctly): Gules three bars ermine [but here with tinctures reversed]

It is not clear for whom this service was made because of the errors in the painting and also the arms are born by many branches of the Hay family. there is also a second service with the same arms but different border which dates from circa 1815.

The quartering comes from a marriage in the late 14th Century of Sir William Hay, son of Sir Thomas Hay, (who was one of the hostages for the liberation of King David II, 3d October, 1357). Sir William Hay was Sheriff of Peebles and was twice a commissioner negotiating with the English.

He married, first, Johanna, eldest daughter of Hugh Gifford of Yester, Haddingtonshire, with whom he got the manor of Yester, with the patronage of the church. Originally called St. Bathan’s, and afterwards Yester, the church was in 1421 restored to its own name, and converted by Sir William into a collegiate establishment for a provost, six prebendaries, and two singing boys, which it continued to be until the Reformation.

In consequence of this marriage, Sir William added the arms of Gifford to his own. He married, secondly, Alicia, daughter of Sir Thomas Hay of Errol, and had issue by both wives; by the first, three sons and three daughters; and by the second, a son and a daughter. The eldest son, Sir William Hay, predeceased his father. The second son, Sir Thomas Hay of Yester, was one of the hostages for King James I., 4th December 1423, when his annual revenue was estimated at 600 merks, and again 16th July 1425. He died without issue, in 1432. The third son succeeded his brother. The youngest son, Edmund de Hay, was ancestor of the Hays of Barra, Rannes, Mountblairy, Cocklaw, Faichfield, Ranfield, Linplum, Alderston, Mordington, and other families of the name.

Howard (2003) suggests this service could have been ordered by Peter (or Patrick) Hay (born 1749) of the Alderston branch, who was a Colonel in the Hon East India Company and whose nephew John was a doctor in the EEIC in the early 19th Century and could have ordered the later service.

However it could also have been ordered by the 7th Marquess of Tweeddale (& Earl of Gifford etc), George Hay, an officer in the naval service of the East India Company. He succeeded his distant cousin the 6th Marquess in 1787 having married in 1785, Lady Hannah Charlotte Maitland, daughter of the earl of Lauderdale; the service could have been ordered for the marriage and the lack of Marquess coronet above the arms is explained; they had six sons and the eldest married in 1816 so could have ordered the second service.

Literature: HOWARD, David S. (2003), CAP II p258, this 1770-80 service, a cup illustrated; CAP Volume I, p788, the later service, c1815

Cohen & Cohen. MasterArt at TEFAF 2014. 14-23 march 2014 - http://www.masterart.com/