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Information on the Parish of Mertoun in Scotland.

The Haigs of Bemersyde

'Tyde what may whate'er betyde, Haig shall be Haig of Bemersyde.'

This statement, reputedly by Thomas the Rhymer in the thirteenth century, was made about a century after the first Haig, Petrus de Haga, settled there. And there are still Haigs there today. Much has happened during the intervening years, and, at times, the links between the Haigs and the estate have been rather tenuous, but still it is true. The direct line from Petrus died out in 1854, and the estate passed to a different line, the Haigs of distilling fame.
The present Earl's father, Field Marshall The Earl Haig, who had been Commander in Chief of the largest British army ever raised, was presented with the estate in 1921 when a public subscription raised sufficient to purchase the estate which had been put on the market by his cousin. This kept it in the family, and the prediction remained true.
When the 1st Earl died in 1928, the present Earl succeeded to the title as the 30th Laird of Bemersyde and 2nd Earl as a child of almost ten years, having been Viscount Dawyck since the age of one.

The present Earl Haig was educated at Cargilfield, Stowe and Oxford. Graduating in 1939, he was immediately involved in World War 2, being commissioned into the Greys and Royals. Posted abroad, first as ADC to the General Officer Commanding in the Western Desert, and later as a General Staff Officer in the 1st Armoured Brigade, he was captured by the Germans and taken prisoner.
Having spent the rest of the war in various prisoner of war camps, including Colditz, he was released by the Russian forces in April 1945.
During his time in captivity, he developed an already burgeoning talent for painting and drawing.
Returning home, to find his home still occupied - as a barracks for the Women's Land Army, he settled, initially, in London where he enrolled at Camberwell School of Art.
His career as a professional artist was under way.
He was able to return to his home in 1947, thus ensuring Haigs continued at Bemersyde.

He married Adrienne Morley, a Londoner, and another gifted artist in 1956. Their three children Raina, Vivienne and Alexander were born in 1958, 1959 and 1961, Alexander becoming Viscount Dawyck and heir to the Earldom.
The marriage, however, did not last and they separated and divorced.
Earl Haig remarried in 1980. His second wife and the new Lady Haig is Girolama Lopez y Royo, known affectionately as 'Fruzzy', a Venetian of Spanish descent. She, too, is a talented artist - a very skilled embroiderer.

Earl Haig, OBE, soldier and painter, died in Borders General Hospital, Melrose on July 10, 2009, aged 91.

He is survived by the Countess, his son and heir, Alexander, Viscount Dawyck and his two daughters.

Back to: The Adjacent Parish of Mertoun