William Hay (police commissioner)

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Captain William Hay CB (1794–1855) was the second and last junior Joint Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, one of two heads of the London Metropolitan Police.

Hay served in the 12th Light Dragoons in the Peninsular War and at the Battle of Waterloo. He then served on the staff of the Governor-General of Canada. In 1850, he was appointed the first Inspecting Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police. This post was effectively the chief deputy to the two Joint Commissioners, Sir Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne, and broke the rule established by Sir Robert Peel that, apart from the two Commissioners, all police officers should be promoted from the ranks. Later the same year, he was promoted to Second Joint Commissioner on Rowan's retirement.

Mayne and Hay did not get along, and Hay was soon complaining to the Home Office about his colleague. He was particularly angered that Mayne took personal charge of the policing of the Great Exhibition in 1851, a job which Hay, as a military man, thought should have gone to him. In 1852, the crowds coming to pay their respects at the lying-in-state of the Duke of Wellington got out of hand and it was reported that one or two people had been crushed to death. There was criticism of the police, and Hay had a paragraph inserted into the newspapers claiming that Mayne had been responsible. Mayne was, unsurprisingly, furious. In 1853, Hay submitted plans for police reorganisation to the Home Office without first showing them to Mayne.

Hay died in 1855, and it was decided that thereafter there should be only a single Commissioner.


  • The Times Digital Archive
  • Martin Fido & Keith Skinner, The Official Encyclopedia of Scotland Yard (Virgin Books, London:1999)
Police appointments
Preceded by
First incumbent
Inspecting Superintendent, Metropolitan Police
Succeeded by
Douglas Labalmondière
Preceded by
Richard Mayne
Second Joint Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
Succeeded by
Last incumbent