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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 September 2007, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Landowner duke dies at age of 83
Duke of Buccleuch
The Duke of Buccleuch has died after a short illness
One of Scotland's biggest landowners, the Duke of Buccleuch, has died at the age of 83.

The former Conservative MP died after a short illness at his Bowhill House home in the Scottish Borders.

The duke, who used a wheelchair after a riding accident in the early 70s, was a strong supporter of country pursuits.

Lord Steel, the former Lib Dem leader and a near neighbour, said his family would be "immensely proud" of his "long and distinguished public life".

His Drumlanrig Estate in Dumfries and Galloway hit the headlines in 2003 when two men stole a Leonardo da Vinci painting, Madonna With The Yarnwinder.

His personal courage, vigour and humour after he was confined to a wheelchair was remarkable
Lord Steel

Police renewed their appeal for information about the theft earlier this year.

As recently as 2005, the duke was believed to be Britain's biggest private landowner, owning 270,000 acres, mostly in the Borders.

The Sunday Times Rich List estimated his wealth at 85m.

Born in 1923, the oldest son of the eighth duke - whom he succeeded in 1973 - Johnnie Buccleuch was educated at Eton and Oxford.

After the war he studied agriculture and forestry and became director of the Buccleuch Estates in 1949.

He married Jane McNeill in 1953 at a wedding attended by the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and most of the Royal Family at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh.

He later became a Tory councillor in Roxburghshire and subsequently MP for North Edinburgh.

Drumlanrig Castle
A Da Vinci painting was stolen from Drumlanrig in 2003

However, he fractured his spine when a horse somersaulted and his career as an MP was cut short when he succeeded to the dukedom.

The duke worked with various bodies on behalf of disabled people and also sat in the Lords, speaking on rural, disability and constitutional issues.

In 1978 he was appointed a Knight of the Order of the Thistle - the highest honour in Scotland.

After Lords reform in 1999 the duke declined to stand as an elected hereditary peer.

A statement from his company - the Buccleuch Group - paid tribute to its former chairman.


It said he had "lived a life of extraordinary richness and courage" and would be remembered for his "commitment to the countryside and inspirational leadership in rural affairs".

Lord Steel said he and Lady Steel were "deeply saddened" at the death of the duke.

He said he was "a highly public-spirited man, an effective Edinburgh MP" as well as "a much-respected and innovative landlord".

"His personal courage, vigour and humour after he was confined to a wheelchair was remarkable," he added.

The duke is survived by his wife and four children.

He is succeeded by his eldest son, the Earl of Dalkeith.

Police renew da Vinci theft plea
27 Aug 07 |  South of Scotland


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