John Kay was a miniature-painter & caricaturist, son of a mason, at 13 was apprenticed at the age of thirteen a barber in Dalkeith. In 1771 he was enrolled a member of the Society of Surgeon-Barbers. In his spare time he began to produce highly original portrait sketches and caricatures of Edinburgh characters, From 1784 to 1822 he is calculated to have etched nearly 900 plates portraying many of the most notable Scotsmen of the day. Many of Kay's more satirical prints were bought by his subjects themselves and destroyed! His etchings constitute an unparallelled chronicle of Edinburgh life at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.