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Francis Laing was born at Edinburgh on 1 May 1773, son of Alexander, an architect. Laing studied at the University of Edinburgh 1789-90 and 1792-93, and the University of Glasgow in 1794, taking a Physics class under John Anderson. He was Snell Exhibitioner in 1796, and went on to graduate BA from Oxford in 1799 and MA in 1801. He took Holy Orders, becoming Reverend Francis Laing. In 1803 Laing served as Private Secretary to the Governor of Malta, and was shortly afterwards appointed Secretary to the Government of the Island, a post which he held till 1814. Returning to the UK, Laing was Rector of Llanmaes, Glamorgan from 1814 to 1824, and Rector of Humshaugh, Northumberland, from 1820 to 1832. He died at the Mythe, Tewkesbury, on 24 November 1861.