This artist was the son of Noah Hickey, a Dublin confectioner, and was born, apparently in May 1741. That he had a brother, John, a sculptor of considerable merit, we learn from the Memoirs of William Hickey (vol iii, p. 349), to whom, by the way, he was not related, though the two families were acquainted. He received his artistic education in Dublin, and afterwards went to Italy, where he remained long enough to master the language. By 1772 he was settled in London (in Jermyn St.) for in that year
On 26 March 1780 Hickey obtained permission to go to India as a portrait painter. His securities were Hugh Bell, of Old Broad St., and Stratford Canning, of Clements lane (the father of the well-known diplomat of the same name). The artist embarked in one of the five Indiamen that left Portsmouth on 27 July 1780 and were captured by the French and Spanish fleets on 9 Aug. Apparently his vessel was taken into Cadiz, where on its being recognized that he was a non-combatant, he was released by the Spanish Government. He made his way overland to Lisbon with the intention of returning to England in a packet boat ; but he found so much employment among the British residents
He was then busy with many comissions, but found time to paint two portraits of [William] Hickey himself and another of Charlotte Barry, the diarist's travelling companion.
Evidently the artist remained in Lisbon until 1783 or 1784, and then went on direct to India, for the EIR of 1791 records that he reached that countryin 1784 in a Portuguese ship.
British Artists in India
The volume of the Walpole Society, Volume 19, 1931, p. 35