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Renny-Tailyour was born in Borrowfield, Forfarshire, the son of an officer of the Bengal Engineers. He was educated at Cheltenham College and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1883. He served in Burma from 1885 to 1889. In 1888 he joined the Indian Army Survey Department, with which he stayed for the rest of his career. He became Deputy Superintendent in 1891, Assistant Surveyor-General in 1904, and Superintendent in 1910. He served in the Boxer Rebellion in 1901. He was promoted Brevet Colonel in 1906.
- Obituary, The Times, 11 June 1937