Dr Grimesby Roylott was a British doctor and the last surviving member of the impoverished, once noble Roylott Family. He had a confrontation with Sherlock Holmes after his stepdaughter Helen Stoner asked Holmes to investigate her sister's mysterious death.
Roylott is described as a huge, intimidating figure with a large face, seared with a thousand wrinkles and tanned from the sun. His eyes are deep-set and bile-shot, and his nose thin and high. Conan Doyle relates Roylott's appearance as that of an old bird of prey.
Dr Roylott's was born into one of the oldest Saxon families in England, the Roylotts of Stoke Moran on Surrey's western border. While the family had at one time been among the richest in England, generations of bad management and an heir with a gambling problem had ruined the family, leaving them with nothing but the heavily mortgaged ancestral house. Roylott was the only son of the last squire of Stoke Moran, and as such was the family's last surviving member. Lacking money or position, he took the advice of a relative and travelled to India where he obtained a medical degree, establishing a large practice in Calcutta and marrying Mrs Stoner, the widow of an Indian officer with two twin daughters. However, after he killed his Indian butler in a fit of rage, he was imprisoned and later forced to return to England. Roylott attempted to set up a practice in London, but when his wife was killed in a train accident he took his step-daughters and retired to the old family estate of Stoke Moran in southern England.
After his return to the house the doctor became increasingly reclusive and prone to anger. Although the villagers had initially been pleased to see his return, a number of public brawls and arrests soon left him the fear of the village. The family became increasingly isolated, with the two sisters having only each other for company because no servant would work for the doctor. The remains of the estate meanwhile became increasingly wild, as Dr Roylott allowed wild Indian animals to roam the grounds and gave a tangle area as a camping ground to a band of gypsies.
When, after a Christmas visit to a relative, his stepdaughter Julia found herself engaged to a young army major, Dr Roylott made no protestation. However, less than two weeks later Julia died from a panic attack whilst in her bed. The recurrence of some of the same circumstances after his other stepdaughter, Helen, became engaged led her to seek Sherlock Holmes' expertise on the matter.