Kay, John,1704–64, English inventor. He patented (1733) the fly shuttle, operated by pulling a cord that drove the shuttle to either side, freeing one hand of the weaver to press home the weft. Workers in the weaving industry who regarded Kay's invention as a threat to their jobs mobbed Kay and destroyed his model. Various factory owners duplicated his device but managed not to pay him a royalty. Kay went to France, resumed his work, and tried unsuccessfully to win recognition in England. Although he was the inventor of one of the most important principles of modern mechanical weaving, he died in poverty.
Born July 16, 1704, in Bury, Lancashire; died 1764. English inventor. A cloth maker by trade.
Kay lived in Colchester beginning in 1730. There he became involved in the manufacture of parts for looms. In 1730 he received a patent for a twisting machine that made a thin thread from cashmere and carded wool. In 1733 he invented a mechanical shuttle, the fly shuttle, for the hand loom. His invention freed the weaver from having to throw the shuttle by hand through the alternate threads of the warp and made it possible for one weaver to make wide cloth on a loom where two weavers had previously been required. Kay died in France.