Owner of Ailsa Craig

Born: September 13, 1956.

Died: January 15, 2015.

ARCHIBALD Angus Charles Kennedy, who has died aged 58, belonged to one of Scotland's oldest noble families, best-known along the Ayrshire coast.

He was 8th Marquess of Ailsa, 19th Earl of Cassilis and 8th Baron Ailsa. He also held the title of 21st Lord Kennedy, although that hereditary Scottish title is not to be confused with the current English peer, Lord Kennedy of Southwark.

If the numbers and titles befuddle us non-nobles, to put it simply they made Archie Kennedy Chieftain of the Clan Kennedy and owner of the famous volcanic island from which he took his title, Ailsa Craig, 10 miles off Girvan in the outer Firth of Clyde. Ailsa Craig may not be a tourist paradise to live on but it is one of Scotland's natural tourist treasures to look upon, not least from Girvan. It is also renowned as the world's greatest producer of blue granite curling stones, used by curlers around the world, not least by the winning Scottish team at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Although his death came tragically too young and unexpectedly, his family thought it was in a way fitting that the Marquess passed away, kilted in the Kennedy tartan, while leading a gathering of Clan Kennedy in Florida last week. With his family affected by the financial crisis of recent years, Archie Kennedy had sought to sell Ailsa Craig a couple of years ago. First asking price was £2.5m but there were no takers. It was later reduced to £1.5mn, the cost of a two-bedroom flat in some areas of west-central London.

The National Trust for Scotland, backed by wealthy US donors, expressed interest in buying the island last year as a focal point opposite one of the jewels in its crown, Culzean Castle. An Indian tycoon and fan of lighthouses, Bobby Sandhu, also expressed interest. But the Marquess was persuaded -- by family and conservationists -- not to give it up. Among the latter lobbyists were the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Known from the days of Irish immigration as Paddy's Milestone (a guiding point towards Clydeside and therefore work) Ailsa Craig is a key preserve for 70,000 endangered birds including gannets, puffins, kittiwakes and herring gulls. It also has a lighthouse, a ruined 500-year-old castle and three cottages for the hardy.

The island, covering 245 acres and rising to 1,110 feet, may look like an odd phenomenon off Ayrshire, often described as a volcanic plug, but it is an eye-catcher. That is why tourists to mainland Ayrshire look at it in something between awe and confusion. After its sale attracted no-one, the Marquess "Archie" decided to keep it in the family. It is now part of a family trust, with the RSPB among its key tenants. The RSPB could not afford to buy the island but maintains a lease until 2050.

Archibald Angus Charles Kennedy was born on 13 September 1956, son of Archibald David Kennedy, the 7th Marquess of Ailsa, and Mary Burn (Lady Ailsa, the much-loved Marchioness, who died in 2007).

Young Archie married Dawn Leslie Anne Keen in 1979 and they had two children, Lady Rosemary Kennedy and Lady Alicia-Jane Kennedy, before the couple divorced in 1989.

After the death of his father, Archibald succeeded, in 1994, to the titles 21st Lord Kennedy, 8th Marquess of Ailsa, 8th Baron of Ailsa and 19th Earl of Casillis (pronounced Cassels, of Maybole, Ayrshire, where he lived, inland from Culzean Castle, the Clan Kennedy family seat since handed over to the National Trust for Scotland). His mother, Lady Ailsa, had helped preserve Culzean Castle throughout her life and oft invited US President Dwight Eisenhower, giving him the top floor of the castle in gratitude for his work with UK forces as commanding US general in the Second World War Two.

The aristocratic title 21st Lord Kennedy no longer gave Archibald a seat in the House of Lords. The current Lord Kennedy of Southwark was elected to that title in the Lords.

The Marquess of Ailsa is survived by his daughters Lady Rosemary and Lady Alicia-Jane, and by his brother David, who becomes 9th Marquess of Ailsa, and Chieftain of the Clan Kennedy, under male-order aristocratic tradition. Under those same rules, David's son Archibald David Kennedy, who was born in 1995, is in line to the 9th Marquess, rather than the late Archibald's own daughters.