G & D Hay

-  David Syme Hay  (1826-1872)

-  George Heron Hay (1824- ? )

-  G & D Hay

G & D Hay

G & D Hay was a partnership between the brothers:

                  - George Heron Hay and 

                  - David Syme Hay. 

Both were born in Montrose.   Both were artists who exhibited in the Royal Scottish Academy.

They established their business at 79 Princes Street in 1855, describing themselves as Photographic Artists.

The advert below refers to G & D Hay's first studio, at No 79 Princes Street:


The Daily Express, 12 September 1855
ALSO:  several other dates in Sep + Oct 1855



The much improved PORTRAITS, which can be viewed at all Angles, are taken in a few seconds, in any weather, at


79 PRINCES STREET, Opposite the Mound

COPIES made of pictures in Oil or Watercolours


Two years later G & D Hay had a studio at 68 and 70 Princes Street (referred to as 68 Princes Street on their cartes de visite).


The Scotsman, 18 March 1857, page 1


The much admired PATENT PORTRAITS are taken in any  Weather, and are warranted to stand in any climate.

At HAY's 68 and 70 PRINCES STREET, Edinburgh

for the Stereoscope Locket, Brooches, Cases, &c.

PORTRAITS on PAPER, Plain or Coloured

PORTRAITS and PICTURES of all kinds Copied.

Prices from 2s. 6d. upwards.



"The remarkable likenesses in the Galleries of Messrs G & D Hay evince the success of these artists in the highest departments of the photographic art"
Evening Courant, Nov 29th 1856

"The untouched photographs of Messrs G & D Hay, Edinburgh, may be noticed, rivalling as they do, in clearness and delicacy, the finest productions of their class.
London Times, Dec 16th, 1856

G & D Hay also advertised in The Scotsman on  25 Apr, 9 May + 4, 25 Jul + 1, 8, 15 Aug + 5, 12, 19, Sep + 24 Oct  + 14 +21 Nov + 12 Dec 1857, then throughout 1858 and 1859.


The Scotsman, 12 June 1858, page 1



Everybody has, or ought to have, a STEREOSCOPE; and everybody can have a DOUBLE PORTRAIT taken for the Stereoscope for 5s., at HAY'S PHOTOGRAPHIC GALLERY, 68 PRINCES STREET, Ground Floor, same entrance as to Telegraph Office.



"The remarkable likenesses in the Galleries of Messrs G & D Hay evince the success of these artists in the highest departments of the photographic art"
Evening Courant, Nov 29th 1856

"The untouched photographs of Messrs G & D Hay, Edinburgh, may be noticed, rivalling as they do, in clearness and delicacy, the finest productions of their class.
London Times, Dec 16th, 1856


Some of their cartes de visite were titled: G&D Hay, 68 Princes Street.  Others were titled: Hay, 68 Princes Street

Carte de Visite

Carte de Visite  -  Photographer: G&D Hay

Copyright:  Zella Ashford, Edinburgh


Edinburgh & Portobello

Following the G & D Hay Partnership at:

-   79 Princes Street (1855-58) THEN

-   68 Princes Street (1856-69)

David S Hay established his own studio at:

-   68 Princes Street (1870-76)

David Syme Hay also had a studio at:

-   32 Bath Street Portobello.

I have not found this studio in the trade directories, but know of two of his cartes de visite bearing this address.  One is undated; the other (for sale on eBay in March 2005) is dated 1865.

PSS Exhibitions

2nd PSS Exhibition, Dec 1857

Both David and George Hay joined PSS in 1856, the year it was established.  

-   In the 2nd PSS Exhibition in 1857, they exhibited glass positive portraits.  

“This method with dark background presents a showy clearness which attracts notice, although in artistic quality they are far inferior to the ordinary calotypes on paper produced by the negative method.  

The simplicity of the process, however, and the striking effect it presents to the untutored eye, have led to glass being much employed in portraiture, and there are some excellent specimens of this style in the rooms by recent photographers.  Those by G&D Hay are the most numerous.”        [DS:1/1/1858]        

3rd PSS Exhibition, Dec 1858

-   In the 3rd PSS Exhibition, in 1858, they exhibited 49 photographs.  Most were portraits; some wet collodion ; many glass positives.

4th PSS Exhibition, Dec 1859

-   In the 4th PSS Exhibition, in 1859, they exhibited 11 photographs. 

" Comparison betwixt these excellent works and the dark crude performances of he early photographers will show at once what immense stride has been made in Edinburgh within the last few years."    [Evening News:  24 December 1859].

PSS Exhibitions

in D R Hay's Fine Art Saloon

Some of the PSS Exhibitions were staged in D R Hay's Fine Art Saloon at 90 George Street. These rooms belonged to David Ramsay Hay until 1847  then to DR Hay & Co until 1866.  David Ramsay Hay and his company were decorative painter to the Queen. 

D R Hay appears not to have been related to G & D Hay?  [Muriel Atkinson]

Hay & Henderson

From around 1857, for about ten years, G&D Hay shared a studio with James Henderson.  There was a close connection between the two families.  

Muriel Atkinson, now living in Canada, is  great-granddaughter of David Syme Hay.  She tells me that:

-  G&D Hay and James Henderson were related

-  her Grandmother was baptised Janetta Henderson Hay in 1868 

-  Janetta's Grandmother was Janet Henderson.


Mr Hay (was it George or David?), in a discussion about studios in on 14 October 1868, spoke in favour of "abundance of light and plenty of room where it was to be got."  

He referred to his brother's studio in Regent-street, "which allowed a clear north or south light in great quantity, an exposure of five seconds being sufficient."

David Syme Hay at Portobello


Thank you to Maureen Atkinson, Canada great-granddaughter of David Syme Hay, for sending me the following details.

Maureen wrote::

"David Syme Hay lived for several years at his mother-in-law's house at 32 Bath Street, Portobello.  His first three children were born there.  He appears to have had a studio at this address.

I can find no reference to it in the trade directories, though I have seen a carte de visite.  The subject was on a seated on a horse and wearing at top hat. 

David Syme Hay left this address and moved to 7 Grange Road in 1866.

He may well have known and encouraged Kyles & Law who worked as photographers from 33 Bath Street from 1865 or 1866 

Kyles & Law was the first of several photographic partnerships  based at 33 and 34 Bath Street, Portobello, over a period of about a thirty years, beginning in the mid-1860s.


Thank you to Archie Foley, Joppa, Edinburgh, for sending me an image of the back of one of David Syme Hay's cartes de visite.  The photo is dated 1865 and photographer described himself as:

D S Hay


32 Bath Street


Thank you to Archie for also giving me this background information about David Syme Hay at Portobello:

Archie wrote:

"David S Hay was listed as a Lodger at 2 Albany Street, Edinburgh at the 1861 Census, but when he married Isabella Gourlay on 12th August 1862 his usual residence was given as Towerbank House, Portobello.

The couple then lived with his mother-in-law, who was a widow, at 32 Bath Street, as you have noted on the web site.  It would be good to find evidence as to when he began to use that address as a studio."

Archie also told me that David Syme Hay and his brother, George, both came from Montrose, Angus, Scotland.

I have not found any evidence to show when David S Hay opened his studio at 32 Bath Street.  I've not found his studio mentioned in any of the old trade directories, and have only seen two cartes de visite by David S Hay.  Both have the same date written on the back:  1865.

Death of David Syme Hay and

George Heron Hay moves to London

David Hay died at the early age of 46, though his business remained listed in the trade directories for two or three years after his death.  None of his David's surviving sons was old enough to take over the business.

After David Hay's death, George Heron Hay moved to London, and is recorded as Artist in Westminster in the 1881 census.  [Des:MA]

G H Hay had a studio at 191 Regent St, London W from 1865 until 1870 according to Michael Pritchard's book, 'A Directory of London Photographers 1841-1908.  

Thank you to author of www.cartedevisite.co.uk for providing this information and sending me a copy of a 'Hay' carte de visite from the studio at 191 Regent Street.

 - Peter Stubbs,  August 15, 2006


G & D Hay


Thank you to Ron Cosens for sending me a copy of this advert which he had received from Allan Collier. 


C A R T E S   D E   V I S I T E

IN TWO                           POSITIONS





    OPINIONS OF THE PRESS.- "The remarkable likenesses in the Galleries of Messrs G. & D. HAY evince the success of these artists in the highest departments of the photographic art."     - Edinburgh Courant

"The untouched photographs of Messrs G. & D. HAY, Edinburgh, may be noticed , rivalling as they do, in clearness and delicacy, the finest productions of their class."                                                                    - Times

Falkirk Herald:  Thursday 8 July 1869

Acknowledgement:  Ron Cosens, England:  26 February 2017




Jackie Hewitt

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Thank you to Jackie Hewitt, who has been researching the Hay family for sending me the notes below.

Jacqueline wrote:

The Hay Family

"I've been researching the Hay family for quite a while.   I'll be going to Edinburgh next month to see if I can see the buildings where the Hay brothers (G & D Hay) worked, and to do more research.

Their parents were:
  -   John  Hay, Hairdresser, Perfumer and dealer in fancy goods
  -   Jane Napier.

John & Jane had 9 children.   4 of them were photographers for a time. George, David, John & Samuel. John took his brother Samuel to court over forged promissory notes and Samuel ended up in Inveraray Prison.

The family are quite fascinating and had their problems.  Samuel ended up committing suicide by slitting his own throat and in his pocket was a letter from the Queen and other dignitaries of the time.

I am a direct descendant of their sister Mary Ann Hay. "


Samuel Hay

"From his indictment papers:

In presence of William Logie Esq Sheriff Substitute of Lanarkshire, 21 years of age, Samuel Hay, a native of Lanarkshire, a photographer.



John Hay

"John Hay was a photographer residing Bridge Street, Inverness. 

Promissory notes from John Hay mention his starting business in Bowling Green Argyle, and also mentions Wick and Thurso.

A letter from Holographer, John Hay, to his mother dated 11 Aug 1855 mentions that he is busy taking photographs. He made £7 that week and sends his mother £1.

He mentions David & George doing well in Edinburgh, etc. etc."

Jackie Hewitt, Belfast, Northern Ireland:  28 April 2016


Message for Muriel Atkinson

Hi Muriel:

You sent me some information above concerning G&D Hay, photographers, and their connection with Henderson.  Jackie Hewitt who wrote the comments above tells me that she would particularly like to contact you concerning the Hay and Henderson families.

Unfortunately, I've not been able to find your email address to pass on to Muriel.  So if you read this note, can you please email me - then I'll pass on your email address to Jackie.

Thank you.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  29 April 2016