The 13th Earl of Stair; born October 9, 1906, died February 27, 1996

SIR John Aymer Dalrymple, 13th Earl and 14th Baronet of Stair and 10th of Killock was an outstanding professional soldier. The eldest of the three sons and two daughters of the 12th Earl of Stair, he was educated at Eton before enrolling at Sandhurst to commence a distinguished military career which began when he served as Brigade Major with the 3rd (London) Infantry.

As Viscount Dalrymple, he was regimental adjutant with the Scots Guards, and from 1939 until 1945 he served in the Middle East and Central Mediterranean, becoming Brigade Major of the 16th Infantry Brigade and a Lt-Col in command of the 1st Scots Guards between 1942 and 1943, when he was mentioned in dispatches and awarded the MBE.

In 1945 he was made responsible for the training battalion of the Scots Guards, and from 1946 until 1949 he commanded the 2nd Scots Guards, becoming Colonel, and Honorary Colonel of the regiment on his retirement in 1953.

In keeping with family tradition, he became a member of the Royal Company of Archers (the Queen's Bodyguard in Scotland) in 1927, achieving the rank of officer in 1949, adjutant in 1952, and in 1973 he attained the senior rank of Captain General and Gold Stick, a Royal Household appointment, which he held until 1988.

In 1960, he took over the responsibility for running the family estates and married Davina Bowes-Lyon, daughter of the Hon Sir David Bowes-Lyon, youngest brother of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Thus the Countess of Stair is a first cousin of the Queen.

Succeeding to his father's earldom in 1961, Lord Stair took on the duties of Lord Lieutenant of Wigtownshire. In 1964, he was awarded the CVO, becoming KCVO in 1978.

A tall, distinguished figure, he had a great love of the countryside. With his own shooting over 60,000 acres, he belonged to that between-the-wars generation of outstanding shots, and took pride in being counted among the top dozen in the land. The Lochinch estate is probably the most renowned mixed-bag shoot in Scotland, and George VI, a regular visitor, is said to have particularly liked the ``mooch'' days when the guns went after various species.

With two rivers, the Luce and the Stincher, at opposite ends of his estate, Lord Stair was also an enthusiastic and accomplished angler who tied his own flies. He played golf, bridge, and billiards with equal brilliance.

The grounds of Castle Kennedy and adjoining Lochinch Castle, east of Stranraer, are famous for rhododendrons and azaleas. The gardens, laid out on a peninsula between two lochs, are open to the public and were largely created in the early eighteenth century by soldiers under the command of the 2nd Earl who structured them around earthworks to replicate the famous battles of the Duke of Marlborough.

The 13th Earl of Stair will be remembered as a kind and gentle man who could nevertheless be forceful and outspoken when he deemed it necessary. ``As head of my mother's family, he would always make us feel immediately at home when we visited,'' recalls Sir Alick Rankin, his nephew. ``You never had to wait until you were invited. He made it clear you would always be welcome.''

Lord Stair is survived by his widow and three sons, Viscount Dalrymple, the Hon David Dalrymple, and the Hon Michael Dalrymple.