Lt-Col Robert Gayre of Gayre and Nigg, ethnologist; born August 6, 1907; died February 10, 1996.

APOLOGIES to ethnologists, but the following is not a comparative scientific study of human peoples. It is a broadbrush record of one man who was, in any case, impossible to typecast.

By all accounts, Lt-Col Robert Gayre of Gayre and Nigg was a gentleman, and never more so than when accepting graciously the return of #96,000 from Glasgow University.

It had rejected his funds for a chair of Scottish literature after controversy surrounding his exposure as a right-wing colonel with the most disturbing racial views.

He had repeatedly contended that black people are intellectually inferior to whites and orientals, and advocated the repatriation of non-whites from Britain.

His was an extraordinary life, after graduating with an honours degree in geography at Edinburgh University. It ranged from being an MI6 spy in pre-war Germany to amassing honorary degrees, from being feted for charitable work to reinventing himself as a Scottish clan chief, complete with castle.

He was, however, always a shadowy figure, even if his entry in Who's Who more than a decade ago was as long as the arm of a neanderthal man.

The entry was far from enlightening, and doubts were repeatedly cast on his standing as an ethnologist, anthropologist, and armorist.

He had held numerous, exotic titles, from Chamberlain to the Prince of Lippe to Lt-Col in the Alabama State Militia, and became feudal baron of Lochoreshyre in Fife by buying Lochore Castle - described as a heap of rubble, but carrying the title.

Numerous media probes were survived, including one by Panorama about right-wing infiltration of the Conservative Party.

However, in June, 1973, his reputation was such that the Sunday Times, defending a libel action over his racial views, suggested he should be awarded only 1p if he won; Gayre, then aged 65, and living in Malta, lost the case.

He had argued that yellow races were, on average, more intelligent than white ones. Both, he added, were ahead of black races.

After Edinburgh University, pre-war, he did postgraduate work on anthropology at Oxford, and also lectured in Germany - where he produced intelligence reports for MI6 on military preparations. At the time, he was an army reservist.

Recalled in 1939, he served with the British Expeditionary Force in France. In 1943, he was appointed director of education in the Allied Control Commission for Italy, responsible for reopening universities - and removing fascist textbooks from the educational system. He then became the Allies' chief of education and religious affairs in Germany, receiving three honorary degrees for his work.

After the war, he founded a mead-making factory, but in 1954 moved to India as professor of anthropogeography at the University of Saugor. Before his return, he became a Fellow of the National Academy of Science of India, and an adviser to the Tribal Commissioner for India.

He founded Mankind Quarterly in 1960, a vehicle for his ``academic investigations'' of the relative merits of races, and a platform for people of extreme racial views. Later, he was a patron of Wise, which stands for Welsh, Irish, Scots, English - and describing itself as the Association of People of Great Britain's stock at home and abroad.

Other interests included the charitable Order of Saint Lazarus, which not only ran ambulance services in Scotland and Northern Ireland but raised money for leprosy research and treatment.

He also wrote many books, some on heraldry. It was a passion he took to the ultimate degree - creating an official sept of Clan Gayre, which consisted of the entire population of a remote Alpine township on the Swiss-Italian border. His resurrection of the Clan Gayre, with all its traditions and privileges, was duly and legally established.

Yesterday, no-one could explain why he chosen Glasgow rather than Edinburgh to fund a university chair; nor could they explain how he had raised the money in the first place.

One professor recalled the university court's abrupt decision to return the cash, with interest, after the adverse publicity surrounding Gayre's own literary works and public declarations on race.

Professor Archie Duncan, who was clerk of the senate, said: ``Although I did not agree with his unpleasant racist views, I found him very gentlemanly in dealings when the money was returned.''

A chair of literature, paid out of general funds, was finally established by the university three years ago.

By then, Gayre, clan chief, armorist, and alleged racialist, was long retired, and resident of another castle - Minard, on the shores of Loch Fyne, Argyll, where he died last week. He had married in 1933, and his wife died in 1983. They are survived by a son, Reinold.