Dalmahoy estate owner the Earl of Morton leaves £11m fortune

An aristocrat who was known for his love of polo and his efforts to support the game in Scotland left an £11m fortune to his family, it has emerged.

Monday, 7th August 2017, 7:11 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:20 am
The late Earl of Morton on his polo horse. Picture: Contributed

John Douglas, 88, the 21st Earl of Morton, died last year at his Dalmahoy estate near Edinburgh.

He helped the raise the profile of polo in Scotland and regularly took part in matches for Edinburgh Polo Club at his stately home.

The Earl also served as a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords where he spoke out on issues affecting Scotland, particularly on the state of the prisons.

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He bred cattle and owned land in England as well as north of the border.

Douglas was a former chairman of the Dalmahoy Country Club, an exclusive hotel and golfing centre and the Dalmahoy Estate has been owned by the Douglas family since around 1760.

Legal papers now show Douglas had accrued a massive £11,064,631.55 fortune and left instructions that it be handed over to his family.

The bulk of his fortune was made up from land and property, including his Dalmahoy estate, and a stocks and shares portfolio.

His wife Sheila passed away last year and they are survived by their daughter Mary and two sons John and Charles.

His first-born son John inherited his father’s title and is now the 22nd Earl of Morton.

Douglas was a keen swimmer and had a life-long passion for polo and played for Scotland in 1977 and 1979 in Kenya.

In 1970, thanks to his energy and initiative, polo returned to Scotland and matches were played on his Dalmahoy estate.

His enthusiasm for the sport made it a popular hobby and he was keen to kill the misconception that it was elitist.

He said: “In Scotland it’s much more casual; people from all walks of life play the game.”

Douglas loved the atmosphere of a polo match and was active with the Edinburgh Polo Club for many years.

He also served his West Lothian community by being Lord Lieutenant for the area between 1985 and 2001.

In 2005, he unveiled the newly-repaired Morton Monument at St Nicholas Buccleuch Church, Dalkeith.

He also served on the board of Quickwing Ltd and the Scottish board of the Bristol and West Building Society.

The late Tam Dalyell, MP for West Lothian and Linlithgow from 1962 to 2005, knew Morton well.

Following his death Dalyell paid tribute to him, saying: “As Lord Lieutenant of West Lothian from 1985 to 2001, the 21st Earl of Morton carried out his duties on behalf of the Queen assiduously, with charm and, where appropriate, with sensitivity and concern for individuals.

“As West Lothian County councillor John Douglas in the 1960s and 1970s, albeit as an independent, he earned the respect and affection of the Labour group with whom he worked constructively, never seeking any limelight.

“I’m in a position to know he did a lot for West Lothian.”