John Hay and his brother-in-law, James Murray, were the most powerful figures in the Jacobite court during its first decade in Italy. From a noble Scottish family traditionally supportive of the royal house of Stuart, Hay took part in the 1715 Rising and then joined the king in exile. Like Murray, Hay was resented by other courtiers, but, unlike the talented but arrogant Murray, he was described as being “of only average merit and capabilities”. This painting was painted around the time he was made Secretary of State in 1725. However, two years later he resigned due to his hostile relationship with Clementina, James Francis Edward Stuart’s wife. He retired with his wife, Marjorie, to Avignon, where, many years later, they hosted Prince Charles Edward Stuart after his expulsion from France.