Landowner and keeper of the countryside;

Born: June 27, 1924; Died: May 30, 2013.

LORD Burton of Dochfour, who has died aged 88, was a Highland laird who, as a fierce opponent of land reform, guarded the privacy of his vast policies with jealous regard.

One of Scotland's richest landowners, he had a profound knowledge of the countryside and a life-long devotion to his estates on Dochfour, Cluanie, Glen Shiel and Glen Quoich.

It is also said that he was the inspiration for the actor Richard Briers's character in the long-running BBC drama Monarch of the Glen. Certainly, the programme's writer and creator Michael Chaplin visited Lord Burton at the 31,000 Dochfour estate in Inverness-shire to research the series.

Michael Evan Victor Baillie was born on June 27, 1924, the eldest son of Brigadier the Honourable George Evan Michael Baillie, MC, TD, and the grandson of Nellie Lisa, the 2nd Baroness Burton, whose title passed – in 1962 – to Michael by virtue of a special remainder dating back to 1897. He was educated at Eton, where he was an excellent boxer and he saw active service as a lieutenant in the Scots Guards – and later the Lovat Scouts – during the Second World War.

He inherited his barony title along with the vast Bass Brewery fortune from his grand-mother, Lady Nellie Bass, know as the Baroness.

Although his peerage owed its name to Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire, Burton often pointed out that two of his ancestors had been kings of Scotland, one of whom had been crowned on the site of Berwick railway station.

He married his second cousin, Elizabeth Ursula Foster Wise of Lochloy, at a ceremony in Nairn in 1948. They had six children, the eldest of whom, Evan, is a successful farmer in Australia and now inherits the title.

Two of Lord Burton's daughters, Victoria and Fiona, predeceased him. His first marriage was dissolved in 1977 and he married Coralie Cliffe the following year, with whom he shared a love of outdoor pursuits such as hunting and fishing, the following year.

For most of his life Burton was a farmer and landowner in the north of Scotland (in 1967 he possessed 38,000 acres), although he was also involved in local politics as a member of the old Inverness County Council (1948-75) and later Inverness District Council (1984-92). He was also a Justice of the Peace for many years and Deputy Lieutenant of Inverness-shire from 1963 till 1965.

The couple moved from the family home at Dochfour to the neighbouring Dochgarroch Lodge where he regularly killed hundreds of moles on a daily basis while he kept a watching brief on his extensive interests from behind a huge pile of newspapers and a continuous flow of visitors.

As a member of the House of Lords, he served on numerous committees and hugely enjoyed his many battles in the Upper House over deer management and the countryside.

His early Lords career was not without incident. In 1964 Lord Burton was fined £20 for forcing the bonnet of a car down on the hand of a local garage attendant called Colin Campbell. Mr Campbell had been examining his car near the entrance to Lord Burton's home and was asked to leave. When police told Lord Burton he had injured the man in the fracas that followed, he professed to be "flabbergasted".

In 1965 Lord Burton opposed the Labour government's proposed Highlands and Islands (Development) Bill and in 1970 accused the same administration of being "complacent, parsimonious, and half-hearted" in trying to eradicate brucellosis, which both his wife and daughter had contracted. Lord Burton also opposed plans for a Scottish Assembly in the late 1970s, arguing that any power devolved to Scotland might "fall into the hands of Scottish nationalist fanatics".

He was greatly disappointed when he was eventually excluded from the Lords for hereditary reasons.

In 1984 Lord Burton asked permission to destroy a marauding golden eagle on his estate, but the Nature Conservancy Council rejected his application. "It seems to be just this one bird which is doing the damage," he said at the time, "and it would be quite easy to get her, as she comes and sits on the same rock in the early morning and late evening." He applied again in 1985, while also attempting to amend the Wildlife and Countryside (Amendment) Bill, but both ended in defeat.

A prominent Freemason, Lord Burton served as Grand Master Mason from 1993-99. He repeatedly raised concerns about the inquiry into the Dunblane massacre, but was "bullied and threatened by powerful peers" loyal to the Conservative government. Beyond Parliament, Lord Burton was happiest while stalking, shooting, fishing and hunting.

As a landowner, farmer and champion of the countryside, he had a serious aversion to rabbits, cats, pine martens and rogue eagles. He even experimented with lion droppings and mothballs to deter the deer from his crops.

He was a vocal opponent of the controversial decision to house the headquarters of Scottish Natural Heritage at Craig Dunain. Another campaign close to his heart was the transformation of the A9 into a dual carriageway to reduce the number of fatal accidents.

So outspoken was his opposition to land reform that he once likened proposals to allow the government to seize land from unco-operative landowners to totalitarian rule in parts of Europe during the Cold War.

Occasionally, he would come into conflict with members of the public who encroached upon his property. In 1992 he was found guilty of a breach of the peace on a private road he owned near Inverness. He had frightened a woman by shouting at her, saying she had no right to be on the road. He denied the charge, claiming that he had a loud voice.

On another occasion he had an altercation with a lorry driver who had blocked an entrance to his property.

Lord Burton had been unwell for some time and had recently been admitted to a nursing home. His family said he had never fully recovered from a car accident he had near the family home two years ago. He is survived by his second wife Coralie, his sons Evan and Alexander, daughters Philippa and Georgina, and his grand-children.