William Hay (1845 - 1932) with his brother George was founder of the Cape Mercury, a newspaper based in King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape. Hay edited the newspaper from its establishment in 1875 until 1885. He later became a Cape MP and represented Victoria East from 1892 to 1898. During this time he also wrote for local Cape newspapers including the Cape Register. Schreiner’s single extant letter to Hay dates from February 1897, in which she requests Hay to send her documentation from newspapers or parliamentary records relating to speeches given by Cecil Rhodes which illustrate his position on ‘native’ matters. Given that the letter was written shortly before the publication of Schreiner’s Trooper Peter Halket of Mashonaland (which she sent Hay an advance copy of with the letter, presumably for newspaper review), it seems likely that Schreiner wanted to arm herself with relevant evidence about Rhodes’s views of and treatment of ‘natives’ to defend herself against the uproar which she foresaw would follow the book’s publication.
For further information see:
.J. Human (1981) ‘Hay, William Sanders Ebenezer’ in (ed) C.J. Beyers Dictionary of South African Biography Vol IV Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council, pp. 222 - 233