Lt. Col. Aidan Sprot of Haystoun MC, who has died aged 101, was a high profile Peebles-shire laird for more than 50 years, having inherited the ancient Hay property of Haystoun from his uncle, Sir Duncan Hay of Smithfield, in 1965.
Aidan Mark Sprot was born on 17 June 1919, the son of Major Mark Sprot of Riddell, in the county of Peebles. His mother, Meliora, was the daughter of Sir John Hay of Smithfield, ninth baronet, of Haystoun House in the same county.
Colonel Sprot was commissioned into the Royal Scots Greys and served throughout the Second World War, in North Africa, the invasion of Italy and finally in France and Germany. As a captain in the Scots Greys, he crossed into Normandy on 9 June 1944, three days after D-Day. He was decorated with the Military Cross and in 2015, on the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, he received the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest decoration, at a very happy ceremony at the French Consulate in Edinburgh, presented by the Consul General. Following his military career he farmed in the Borders where he was very active in the life of the community. Among many appointments, he was Chieftain of the Peebles Highland Games and a stalwart of the Tweeddale Society, latterly serving as its Honorary President.
The Hays of Smithfield, from whom he descended via his mother, are a collateral branch of the Hays of Yester, later Marquises of Tweeddale. The family descends from a younger son of the second Lord Hay of Yester, who was killed at Flodden in 1513, holders of a baronetcy created in 1635. The famous American poet and statesman, John Milton Hay, belongs to this family. When Colonel Sprot’s uncle, Sir Duncan, died in 1965, the title passed briefly succeeded by an elderly cousin, Sir Bache Hay of Smithfield, who was the last of the line.
Sir Duncan left the family property to his nephew, Colonel Sprot. Some years ago, he made the estate over to his niece, Mrs Mary Coltman, the daughter of his sister Celia, who had married the well known politician Viscount Whitelaw.