Ian Roy obituary

Other lives: Expert on the English civil war

My father-in-law Ian Roy, who has died aged 85, was active in the field of 17th-century British history. His published work reflected many interests: population history, the English gentry, taxation, and central and local administration.

Ian will be particularly remembered for his work on the military history, especially the royalist military history, of the English civil war. Despite popular interest in the civil war, the number of academic experts on the military conflict is small, and Ian was among the most learned and authoritative.

He was born in Edinburgh, son of John, a headteacher, and Elsie, a midwife, and went to Daniel Stewart’s college. He read history at St Andrews University and after national service in the army in Malaya, he gained a PhD at Magdalen College, Oxford, then taught history in Bristol. He moved to London in the early 1960s to teach at King’s College London, where he remained until his retirement as senior lecturer in history in 1996.

He was a presiding presence at seminars of the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) for many decades, willing to share his erudition and great fun to be with when doing so. Like Chaucer’s Clerk of Oxenford, “Gladly would he learn and gladly teach”. Ian had a retiring manner, but anyone who met him realised the depth and range of his knowledge.

His published work is marked by care and attention to detail. He was not one to publish for its own sake. The Royalist Ordnance Papers 1642-1646 was published in two volumes, 1964 and 1975; The Hearth Tax Collectors’ Book for Worcester, 1678-1680 appeared in 1983.

His last publication was The Diary and Papers of Henry Townshend, 1640-1663 (2014), edited with Stephen Porter and Stephen Roberts. His final project was on the parentage of the infamous Earl of Rochester, on which he delivered a paper in 2015 to the IHR.

He is survived by his wife, Helen (nee Williams), whom he married in 1957, and their three daughters, Kate, Jan and Lindsay.

Les Robinson

The GuardianTramp

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