John Kay (1742–1826)
John Kay (1742–1826)
Portrait etcher and miniature painter
John Kay served an apprenticeship in Dalkeith before moving to Edinburgh to work as a barber. In 1771 he was enrolled in the Society of Surgeon-Barbers and set up his own business. He started a series of original portraits and caricature etchings and sold copies from his premises in Parliament Close. His collection eventually reached 900 plates and covered all the leading figures in the city. Some of his works were shown in exhibitions and he was making arrangements for publication by the time of his death. John Kay's portraits have been reproduced in various editions over the years. His original art work is held by major art galleries in Edinburgh, London and New York.
Birth in 1742
John Key was born on 6 April 1742, the son of John Key and Helen Alexander. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Dalkeith gives the date of baptism as 11 April and the witnesses as John Aitken, gardener and John Arnot, mason.The standard spelling of his surname is Kay. Selection of the 'variant surnames' option on ScotlandsPeople quickly identified the alternative.
Birth and baptism entry for John Kay (65 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 683/3, page 246
First Marriage in 1765
John Kay, barber in Causeyside, married 'Lillias Stiven, daughter to deceast [Thomas] Steven in Newlands' on 6 March 1765. The entry can be found in the Old Parish Register for St Cuthbert’s. Lillias died in 1783.
First marriage entry for John Kay (43 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-2/16, page 232
Second Marriage in 1787
John Kay, engraver, High Kirk parish, married Margaret Scott, New Greyfriars parish, daughter of the deceased James Scott, late merchant in Portsburgh Edinburgh. The entry in the Old Parish Register for Edinburgh is dated 31 May 1787.
Second marriage entry for John Kay (46 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-1/51
Death in 1826
Mr John Kay, 83 years, print seller, late barber was buried on 1 March 1826. The entry in the Old Parish Register for Edinburgh gives the place of interment as 4 DP east of Charter's tomb.
Burial entry for John Kay (37 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-1/100, page 40