William Hedges, our Diarist, was born 21st October 1632, at Coole, co. Cork. He, as well as his father and grandfather, are formally styled “Lacy alias Hedges”. The great-grandfather was John Lacy, but under what circumstances the name was changed to Hedges we have not been able to trace. The eldest son of John Lacy is styled William Lacyalias Hedges of Kingsdown in Wilts (1571-1646); and the third son of the latter, Robert Lacyalias Hedges of Youghal, in Ireland, but also styled of Kingsdown, was born at Bourton, Berks, 23rd July 1604, died 23rd December 1670, and was buried at Cloyne Priest, co. Cork. Robert married (1630) Catharine, daughter of Edward Wakeman, Esq., of Mythe in Gloucestershire, and their eldest son was William aforesaid.
The first that we know of William Hedges' career is that he was a “Turkey merchant”, i.e., we suppose, in the service of the Levant Company. Some such circumstance may be gathered from obscure allusions in his Diary, and from the complacence with which he refers to his colloquial knowledge of Arabic and Turkish, and the impression which he represents these acquirements to have made at the Nawáb of Dacca's court and elsewhere. But we also find evidence as to this passage of the Hedges biography in the Life of Sir Dudley North.