Margaret of Mar, 31st Countess of Mar (born 19 September 1940), is a crossbench member of the House of Lords, an elected hereditary peer, the holder of the original Earldom of Mar, the oldest peerage title in the United Kingdom, and a farmer and former specialist goats cheesemaker in Great Witley, Worcestershire. She is the only suo jure countess in the House of Lords.
She was born Margaret Alison Lane, the daughter of Millicent Mary Salton and James Clifton Lane, later James of Mar, 30th Earl of Mar, the heir presumptive of Lionel Erskine-Young, 29th Earl of Mar, his first cousin once removed (both were descended from a sister of John Goodeve-Erskine, 27th Earl of Mar).
Margaret had two younger siblings: David of Mar, Master of Mar, and Lady Janet of Mar. In 1959, her father was officially recognised in the style of Mar, and from that year his three children were also styled of Mar, the name Lane being abandoned.
Mistress of Mar
When Margaret's father succeeded as 30th Earl of Mar in 1965 she became Lady Margaret of Mar, and her brother became The Master of Mar, Lord Garioch. When Lord Garioch died in 1967, Margaret became The Mistress of Mar as the elder heir-portioner presumptive in general of her father.
Countess of Mar
When in 1975 her father the 30th Earl died, Lady Margaret became the 31st holder of the Mar earldom, the Premier Earldom of Scotland, and entered the House of Lords, making her maiden speech in April 1976. After the passing of House of Lords Act 1999, Lady Mar was elected to serve as one of the ninety-two hereditary peers retained in the House, where she sits as a cross-bencher, meaning she is not aligned with any particular political party.
As Countess of Mar she is also titular 11th Duchess of Mar in the Jacobite Peerage (in which Peerage she is numbered as 32nd Countess of Mar, as the attainder of 1716–1824 is not recognised by the Jacobites).
Lady Mar has held a number of positions within the House of Lords:
- Deputy Chair of Committees 1997–2007
- Select Committee on European Communities Sub-Committee C (Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection) 1997–1999
- Deputy Speaker 1999–2007
- Select Committee on European Union Sub-Committee D (Environment, Agriculture, Public Health and Consumer Protection / Environment and Agriculture) 2001–2005
Lady Mar is currently a member of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, a member of the Lords Refreshment Committee, and a member of the panel of Deputy Chairmen of Committees. Lady Mar is also secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pesticides and Organophosphates.
Lady Mar has also held a variety of non-political offices:
- Member of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal 1985–2006
- Chairman, Honest Food 2000–2005
- Chairman, Environmental Medicine Foundation 1997–2003
- President, Guild of Agricultural Journalists 2007–2010
- Patron, Dispensing Doctors' Association 1985–1986
- Patron, Worcestor Mobile Disabled Group 1991–2003
- Patron, Gulf Veterans' Association
- President, Elderly Accommodation Counsel, 1994–
- Honorary Associate of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons 2006–
- Honorary Associate of the British Veterinary Association 2007–
- Lady Mar was a specialist cheese producer.
- "THE LORD BISHOP OF NORWICH (Hansard, 28 October 1975)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Lords. 28 October 1975. col. 141.
- "TRAINING FACILITIES FOR INDUSTRY (Hansard, 7 April 1976)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Lords. 7 April 1976. col. 1684.
- "Lords Hansard text for 29 Oct 1999 (191029-02)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Lords. 29 October 1999. col. 510.
- "Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments". UK Parliament website. Archived from the original on 25 October 2007. Retrieved 7 July 2009.
- "House of Lords Refreshment Committee". UK Parliament website. Archived from the original on 21 November 2006. Retrieved 7 July 2009.
- "Lords Hansard text for 6 Jul 200906 July 2009 (pt 0002)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Lords. 6 July 2009. col. 450.
- "House of Commons – Register of All-Party Groups". UK Parliament website. Archived from the original on 19 November 2007. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
- "Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons". Archived from the original on 11 October 2007.
- ^ Laurence of Mar (2016). "The Earldom of Mar, The Premier Earldom of Scotland". Retrieved 11 May 2016.
- "British Veterinary Association". Archived from the original on 18 May 2010.
In the summer of 1989, while dipping her sheep through a tank of organophosphorous chemicals, Lady Mar was subjected to a splash of chemicals on her foot, and three weeks later developed headaches and muscular pains. She was eventually diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. Since then Lady Mar has used her seat in the House of Lords almost exclusively to press the government to provide suitable care and support for patients with similar long-term and poorly understood medical conditions, and to better regulate the use of organophosphates. This also led to her membership on the EU sub-committees listed above.
As a consequence of her illness, Lady Mar founded the organisation Forward-ME to co-ordinate the activities of a fairly broad spectrum of charities and voluntary organisations working with patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, which is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).
Lady Mar has married three times: first to Edwin Noel Artiss, then to John Salton, and finally to John Jenkin. From the first marriage she had a daughter: Susan Helen of Mar, Mistress of Mar (born 1963), the heiress presumptive to her mother's peerage. Lady Susan is married to Bruce Alexander Wyllie, and has two daughters, Isabel and Frances.
Titles and styles
- 1940–1959: Margaret Alison Lane
- 1959–1965: Margaret of Mar
- 1965–1967: Lady Margaret of Mar
- 1967–1975: The Mistress of Mar
- 1975–present: The Rt Hon. The Countess of Mar