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A Kin to a King


Alexander Hay was a different sort of guy.

He was a bit eccentric, perhaps. He was a farmer and a university graduate. He was known as something of a recluse. He loved his books, but he lived in a shack by himself until he died. And he claimed that he was the rightful owner of some money. A lot of money. Of millions of English pounds, to be exact.

Alexander Hay was the great-grandson of King George IV of England. Or so he said. He would prove it, someday, he said. It didn’t happen in his lifetime, though. He died in January in 1925 near Max, but his spirit and his belief continued in the body of his brother.

How many in the dusky prairies of North Dakota have any claims to royalty?

The McLean County Independent transcribed the history of the Hay family on this day in 1925. Albert Hay, Alexander’s brother, claimed that he and his remaining brother and sisters were great-grandchildren of King George IV, a reportedly lascivious man with many lovers. King George IV came to love and marry Anne Marie Fitzherbert, a Roman Catholic. Historically, this marriage was not recognized for political reasons, and was kept a secret. George IV married publically later and had no living heirs.

The Hay family claimed that through the secret union of the King and Fitzherbert, their father, George Frederick Matthews, was born. Albert claimed Fitzherbert’s fortune was transferred to her son through her will and that this son was the father of Caroline Matthews, who was the mother of the Hay children.

If the Hays were able to prove their relation, then they had the right to receive what equaled a nearly $27 million inheritance.

They also claimed that Alexander had seen the marriage certificate of George IV to Anne Marie Fitzherbert. Moreover, they had papers of identification of their relationship to George Frederick.

Albert sought some more records, intending to continue on to find more “ends of proofs” to the family’s claim.

However, he never found conclusive documentation. A fire consumed his home and destroyed the records that he had collected so carefully. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.

In any case, Albert, also into scholastics, also a bachelor and a recluse, died without inheriting what he believed was his.

Many years prior, King George IV spent his twilight years living in seclusion at Windsor in England.

Perhaps it is a smaller world than we thought, after all.

By Sarah Walker


McLean County Independent, Thursday, Feb. 5, 1925, p.1, 8

Minot Daily News, Saturday evening, Jan. 31, 1925, p.5

Minot Daily News, Monday, Oct. 21, 1935, p. 2

History of the Monarchy: George IV, http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page114.asp