Obituary: Captain Viscount Melville, soldier and aristocrat

Aristocrat who took a special interest in the welfare of vulnerable people in Lasswade

Captain Viscount Melville, soldier and aristocrat.

Born: 28 May, 1937, at Melville Castle, Dalkeith.

Died: 21 July, 2011, in Wiltshire, aged 74.

Captain Viscount Melville, the 9th viscount, came from a distinguished Scottish family whose origins date back to the 18th century and Henry Dundas, the distinguished lawyer and politician who served in the government of William Pitt.

The 9th viscount, before moving south, had strong connections with Edinburgh and particularly Dalkeith, where his forebears had lived. He returned to Scotland often and enjoyed annual visits to fish and play golf in Perthshire.

Robert David Ross Dundas, 9th Viscount Melville, succeeded to the title in 1940 when his father was killed in action during the Second World War.

Melville Castle was requisitioned for the duration of the war by Polish troops and Melville lived with his grandmother in Ayrshire.

After the war, his mother got married again - to Gerald Sanderson - and Melville was brought up at Keltie Castle in Perthshire. As a child he developed a lifelong passion for the Perthshire countryside and its hills. He also became an avid sportsman, enjoying shooting and fishing.

Melville went to Cargilfield prep school in Edinburgh and then Wellington College in Berkshire. At the latter he was captain of squash, racquets and chess. Straight after school he went to do his national service and officer training at Eaton Hall in Cheshire.

In 1956 he was commissioned into the Scots Guards, where he rose to the rank of Captain. Melville served with the 2nd battalion in West Germany and then with L Company at Caterham. He preserved a great interest in and affection for the regiment and attended many of its events and celebrations.

Significantly, the badge of the Scots Guards was proudly printed on the cover of the order of service at his funeral, which was recently held at Lasswade.

In the years following he maintained a close connection with the military through his membership of the territorial army in the Ayrshire Yeomanry and by being a reserve Captain in the Scots Guards.

Melville Castle had been built by the architect James Playfair and in earlier times had been used as a hunting lodge for Mary, Queen of Scots. Melville did not return to live in Melville Castle after the war but his youth was spent in nearby Esk Cottage, within the estate grounds.

Melville was an assiduous member of both the Midlothian County and District Councils and was president of the Lasswade Civic Society.

He took a special interest in the welfare of older people and the underprivileged. He joined the Lasswade Civic Society when it was founded in 1971, and was active in its efforts to clean up the River Esk. Melville also acted as a trustee of the Poltonhall Community Association.

In later years Melville worked in the City of London and regularly attended the House of Lords. After his marriage to Fiona Stilgoe in 1982 he made his principal residence in the south, initially in Gloucestershire and latterly in Wiltshire. However, Melville maintained a keen interest in affairs in Scotland and listed among his clubs in reference books Midlothian County and the Bonnyrigg and Lasswade District ex-Servicemen's Association.

Along with his love of country sports Melville also enjoyed chess and golf. While visiting Scotland, especially in Perthshire, he pursued his great love of Scottish country dancing.

The Reverend Matthew Ross, minister, Lasswade and Rosewell Parish Church, spoke at Melville's funeral of his courage in overcoming several illnesses.

"In 1990 David suffered an abscess on the brain which nearly proved fatal, but despite his injuries his will to live proved indefatigable."

The Reverend Ross also mentioned that before he moved to England Melville had been a regular worshipper at Lasswade Parish Church.

Captain Viscount Melville is survived by his wife and their two children. The title passes to his elder son, Robert Henry Kirkpatrick Dundas.