A SOLICITOR due to retire in six months’ time is getting ready to take on a new role.

Alastair Shepherd will succeed Alastair Rennie as custodian of the Scottish Barony Register at the beginning of next month.

The register is a private venture set up on the abolition of the feudal system in 2004 to provide a means to continue to record ownership of the dignities of feudal baronies and transfers of such rights.

Certification from the custodian is accepted by the Lord Lyon as evidence of title, in dealing with a petition for arms based on ownership of a named baronial dignity.

Mr Shepherd, who lives on the outskirts of Haddington at Monkrigg Steading, follows on from Mr Rennie, who is a former deputy keeper of the Registers of Scotland and was the first custodian of the Scottish Barony Register.

The register currently contains details of the transfer of 170 different dignities.

Mr Shepherd, a partner with estate agent Coulters, is due to retire in April after 40 years in private practice.

He was delighted to be chosen as the successor by the directors of the register.

He said: “When the current custodian announced his retirement, I put my hat in the ring. I will be retiring from Coulters in April and can run this as a part-time occupation from home. It will be interesting to see it from the registration point of view as opposed to buying and selling, which is what I have been used to.”

Mr Shepherd, 61, previously wrote The Haddington War Memorial 1914-1918, which aims to commemorate the lives of those who fell during the First World War.

A new website is being set up at scottishbaronyregister.org where, in due course, all appropriate forms and a note of fees charged will be published.