He was the second son of the miniaturist Charles Hayter and brother of Sir George Hayter, also a portraitist.
He entered the Royal Academy schools in 1815, and began to exhibit at the Royal Academy in the same year. He also exhibited work at the British Institution and the Royal Society of British Artists. Hayter established himself during the 1820s, with portraits of notable figures such as the Duke of Wellington and the opera singer, Giuditta Pasta.
His portrait drawings, in chalks or crayons, became particularly popular, a number of them being engraved for The Court Album, Portraits of the female aristocracy (1850-1857).