John Slezer

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Title page of the Theatrum Scotiae, 1693
A copy of Slezer's work in the National Museum of Scotland

John Slezer (before 1650 – 1717) was a Dutch- or German-born military engineer and artist. He arrived in the Kingdom of Scotland in 1669,[1] and was appointed Surveyor of his Majesties Stores and Magazines, which involved compiling detailed surveys of the country's fortifications. He is best known for his Theatrum Scotiae, a series of engravings of views of castles, abbeys, towns, and seats of the nobility he encountered whilst travelling throughout Scotland in his capacity as Captain of the Artillery Company. He was imprisoned in 1688 as a supporter of King James VII, following the latter's deposition in favour of William III and Mary II, but was released the following year. He published the first volume of Theatrum Scotiae in 1693, but sales were poor and he applied to the Government for a grant to proceed with a continuation of the work that was to be called Scotia Ilustrata. This never materialised, however, and increasing financial difficulties forced Slezer to spend the last years of his life in the Holyrood Abbey sanctuary to avoid debtors' prison.[2]

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  1. ^ Slezer, John at the website of Scotland's People: "The official government source of genealogical data for Scotland"
  2. ^ R Butchart, Prints And Drawings Of Edinburgh, Cousland & Sons Ltd, 1955, p.11

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