Dr Noble died peacefully at Drummond Grange, Lasswade on 20 July 2002 in her 92nd year.
She was born in 1911 in Edinburgh and lived at Willowbrae, her father being John Noble the pharmacist at Leith Links.
She attended Mary Erskine School and read Biology at the University of Edinburgh. This led to a distinguished international career in seed pathology crowned by receiving the ISO and also being made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She is listed as one of the most important international women scientists’ for the century 1850-1950.
Her father belonged to Broomieknowe Golf Club and the family would meet there for a round of golf and supper. Mary eventually bought a house opposite the clubhouse.
Mary Muirhead wrote, “She was always very enthusiastic about golf and the club. From 1958 to 1960 she was captain of the ladies section. In 1977 she was made a life member. The old 9th hole was named “Mary’s Dyke” in recognition of her flower planting in the wall – unfortunately now demolished”.
Gardening especially propagation was a great interest. She had rare plants herself and worked at Suntrap giving invaluable advice. Suntrap describes itself a Centre of Life Long Learning – this could also describe Mary! Her wide interest and depth of knowledge were legendary. Discovering the hidden facts of Beatrix Potter in Scotland was a major and enduring achievement and one which began because they were both mycologists.
Neil Stewart wrote, “I met Mary for the first time one evening in October 1986 when I attended an illustrated talk given to Bonnyrigg & Lasswade Local History Society by the late Alasdair Anderson, a local historian from Gorebridge. His subject that evening was the “History of Bonnyrigg & Lasswade”.
I did not know at that time that our meeting would lead me to research and study the wealth of history associated with our town and that Mary would become my mentor. Mary always had a tremendous enthusiasm for local history and she inspired many other people to promote and preserve historical items. She was also keen photographer and captured the changing views of this area over many years.
She was also keen to take the history of Bonnyrigg & Lasswade out to interested groups including local schools. She helped and encouraged me to put together illustrated talks and prepare exhibitions based on material held in the archive of the society. Mary and I worked closely with Marion Richardson, recently retired local studies officer at Midlothian Libraries HQ, in this respect.
I believe that one her greatest achievements in local history was the preservation and restoration work at the original Lasswade Kirkyard and particularly the Drummond Burial Aisle. Through her strength, powers of persuasion and constant campaigning for this work to be undertaken, Midlothian Council and the Manpower Services Commission put together a funded project. She published a tourist leaflet on Lasswade Kirkyard and co-operated with Midlothian Council when tourist signs and noticeboards were erected at the kirkyard. I will certainly miss her and the welcome that she always gave me whenever I visited her at her home, “Come away in laddie”, she would always say to me. She helped me a lot over sixteen years and it was truly a privilege to have known her”.
Bonnyrigg & Lasswade Community Council recognised her work in the community by presenting her with a Citizen of the Year award in November 2000. Bonnyrigg & Lasswade Local History Society also awarded her with a Life Membership in recognition of her invaluable contribution to the Society over many years.
Bill Scott wrote, “The rapid onset of macular degeneration with consequent loss of vision was a severe blow to someone who had so much reading, collating of archives and viewing of slides still to do. The Lasswade Kirkyard is a wonderful memorial to her determination and detective work. Visit it and read her leaflet produced by Carle Murphy and you will realise the extent of the work”.
On the day that she died, a magnificently dressed piper happened to be practising under the lime tree near the Drummond Aisle. On requesting a lament for Mary he played the wonderful “Flowers of the Forest” – with the drizzle gently falling.
Herbert Dryden wrote “the world was all the richer for her being here and all the poorer for her passing”.
28 July 2002.