Born in Kirkwall, Orkney, Strange was apprenticed to Richard Cooper, the Edinburgh engraver. An ardent Jacobite, he joined the 1745 Rising and went into exile after the defeat at Culloden. He married the sister of the Secretary to Prince Charles Edward Stuart and studied engraving in Rouen and Paris. In 1750 he settled in London, where he established himself as a leading engraver. He spent four years in Italy in the 1760s and lived in Paris from 1775 to 1780. He was knighted by George III in 1787.