WHEN Dr D Gordon Teall of Teallach was a boy of three he went missing from home and was found marching behind a pipe band which was parading through the streets. It sparked off a lifetime's interest in the history of tartan and Highland dress. Dr Teall, who died on July 17 aged 75, became member No 20 when he joined the Scottish Tartans Society in 1967 and rose to become executive president.

He will be remembered as a man who was devoted to the history of Highland dress and also as an autocratic chairman. The Tartans Society gained an unfortunate reputation as one of the most fratricidal in Britain as Dr Teall expelled or sidelined rivals for leadership posts with a skill that any politician would envy.

The society got into serious financial difficulty and left its Comrie museum and was eventually re-housed at Scotch House, in Edinburgh, and at a satellite museum in Franklin, North Carolina. Rival organisations were set up by disaffected members, such as the Scottish Tartans Authority, which is now to establish a tartans centre on the outskirts of Perth.

He spent a great deal of his personal money in subsidising the society and promoting his leadership claims and was a kent figure at Highland games at Stone Mountain, Georgia, and Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina.

Dr Teall obtained a licentiateship of the College of Perceptors and a master's degree in education at Leicester University. He became a PhD, specialising in medieval burghs and population movement. He served as a radio communications officer during the Second World War, and held a parchment from the Royal Humane Society for gallantry in saving life.

His titles were ''purchase'' titles, that of Laird of Teallach, Baron Huntly, and Lord of Croyland, in England. He owned property in Scotland, England, the Isle of Man, and had a house in Pitlochry.

One of his proudest moments came when Prince Charles visited the display in Scotch House and some American members of the society travelled to Edinburgh to share in that event. With the American historian and writer Philip Smith, he broke new ground in tartans research by writing a book about the district tartans, some of which had old pedigrees.

He was a colourful, almost eccentric, personality. American tartan enthusiasts grew to know his personal banner and eagles feathers, but he was less well known in Scotland except as the leader of a society which, in modern times, was frequently in the media for the wrong reasons.