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The name Haldane derives from the Healf Dene or 'Half Dane', that is one with a Scandinavian parent. The name appears in Glasgow and the Borders. The family held estates at Gleneagles and Airthrey, the former from the 13th century and still the home of the chiefs. There are connections with Dundee through marriage with Admiral Adam Duncan (1731 - 1804) who inherited the Gleneagles estates and whose nephews were the evangelists Robert (1764 - 1842) and James (1768 - 1851) Haldane. That line is remarkable in terms of its incredible numbers of famous members, including physiologist John Scott Haldane (1860 - 1936), his brother Richard Haldane, Viscount Haldane of Cloan (1856 - 1928) and sister authoress Elizabeth Haldane (1862 - 1937). John fathered biologist J.B.S. Haldane (1892 - 1964) and authoress Naomi Mitchison (1897 - 1999). Mitchison in turn was the mother of no less than three notable University Professors.

The direct Haldane-Duncan line from Adam Duncan died out in 1933 and the estates were made over to James Brodrick Chinnery-Haldane (1868 - 1941). His grandson, Alexander Chinnery-Haldane (1907-84) was renown for patrolling his estate on a Triumph motorcycle and waging war against anyone associating his estates with the Gleneagles Hotel. Alexander passed the estates on to his cousin, rather than his brother, the noted homosexual society photographer Brodick Vernon Chinnery-Haldane (1912-96).

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