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Sir Robert Strange was born in Kirkwall in 1721, the son of David Strange who was Burgh Treasurer. He was educated in Kirkwall and heading towards the law when he decided to give try service in the Royal Navy. Seasickness on one voyage was sufficient to change his mind and he became apprentice to Edinburgh artist and engraver, Richard Cooper.
He was induced to join the Jacobite cause by Isabella Lumisden, whom he later married. Isabella's brother, Andrew Lumisden, was private secretary to Prince Charles Edward Stewart and arranged for his entry into the Prince's Life Guards. Robert subsequently became involved in raising funds for the cause.
He produced designs for proposed Jacobite bank notes and his half length engraved portrait of the Prince is the only one known to have been done from life during the rebellion.
An anecdote of Richard Cooper suggests that Isabella was quite a woman and may well have saved Strange's life following Culloden:
He escaped to the continent where he was honoured for his engravings in France and Italy. He married Isabella Lumisden in 1747 and resided for some time in Paris before going to London in 1751, where he was particularly successful as an engraver. Despite his Jacobite activities, he was knighted by George III in 1787.