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General William Roy

General William Roy was born in Carluke on the 4th of May 1726 at Miltonhead, he was educated in the parish school and Lanark Grammar school. He was a respected land surveyor at Craigforth near Stirling prior to his work for the military, and his demonstrated knowledge of general science, geodesy, chemistry, and astronomy imply that he was once an apt pupil within a formal system of education, though there are no records of any further education.

Roy's father had been a steward or factor (ie, a representative of a landowner in Scotland) in the service of the Hamiltons of Hallcraig, as well as an elder of the Kirk. His grandfather had held a similar position as factor, and his uncle acted in that capacity for the Lockharts of Lee. His younger brother James had held the bursary in the Grammar School and College of Glasgow, took a Master of Arts after studies in the Languages and Philosophy, was licensed by the Presbytery of Glasgow, and held several other notable positions before his untimely death in 1767, at the age of 37.

Roy was a military engineer, surveyor, and antiquarian. He was an innovator who applied new scientific discoveries and newly emerging technologies to the accurate geodetic mapping of Great Britain. It was Roy's enthusiasm and leadership that led to the creation of the Ordnance Survey in 1791, sadly the year after his death. His technical work in the establishment of a surveying baseline won him the Copley Medal in 1785. His maps and drawings of Roman archaeological sites in Scotland were the first accurate and systematic study of the subject, and have not been improved upon even today.

Throughout his life Roy maintained his connections to his birthplace and the people living there. A servant for the Lockharts of Lee recalled his visits there over time, as his national reputation grew. She noted that at first he would dine in the servants hall, in later years he would dine with the family, and later on still he would be seated at the right hand of the Laird.

In Carluke today there is still a monument to General William Roy, it is situated on Raes Road, off Milton Road where Miltonhead, the place of his birth, once stood.

General William Roy

General William Roy

General William Roy

"HERE STOOD
MILTONHEAD
THE BIRTHPLACE OF
MAJOR-GENERAL
WILLIAM ROY
4TH MAY 1726 - 30TH JUNE 1790
FROM WHOSE MILITARY MAPS OF
SCOTLAND MADE IN 1747 - 1755
GREW THE ORDNANCE SURVEY
OF GREAT BRITAIN"