John Slezer (d 1717)

John Slezer (d 1717)

Army officer and topographical draughtsman

John Slezer was a native of Germany. He moved to Scotland in 1669 to work as an ordnance engineer and was made a burgess of Dundee in 1678. Ten years later the Scottish Parliament appointed him Captain of the Artillery Company. It was in this capacity that he produced his 'Theatrum Scotiae containing the prospects of their majesties Castles and Palaces Towns and Colleges the ruins of many ancient Abbeys, Churches, Monasteries and Convents within the said Kingdom all curiously engraven on copper plates with a short description of each place by John Slezer, Captain of the Artillery Company, and Surveyor of Their Majesties Stores and Magazines in the Kingdom of Scotland' (1693). The engravings were noted for their accuracy and the 'Theatrum' is an indispensable source for Scotland's history as it contains some of the first representations of many parts of the country and images of buildings that no longer survive.

Testament of John Slezer

National Records of Scotland, CC8/8/87 p159

Unfortunately John Slezer did not keep his accounts in good order. He is described in his testament as an 'indweller in the Abbay of Holyroodhouse'. The confines of the old Abbey were used to provide debtors protection from their creditors. There is a testament of another John Slezer who died in 1709 (National Records of Scotland, CC8/8/84). He is described as 'John Slezer Gentleman of the canon in the artillery Company of the castle of Ed[inbu]r[gh] under the Command of Cap[tai]n John Slezer ... Faithfully made and given up be Charles Slezer ensign in the right honourable George Earle of Orkneys Regiment of foott brother german to the s[ai]d Deceased John Slezer and only Exe[cuto]r Dative'.

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