Leslie Melville Balfour-Melville 106,266,351
- Born: 9 March 1854, Edinburgh 352
- Marriage (1): Jeanie Amelia Wilson on 29 November 1879 352
- Marriage (2): Harriet Maud Carey in 1923 352
- Died: 16 July 1937, 35 Westgate, North Berwick aged 83 352
From The Times, July 17, 1937
Mr. Leslie Balfour-Melville, who died yesterday at his home in North
Berwick at the age of 83, was in his day one of the finest all-round
athletes that Scotland ever produced and, in particular, an
outstanding figure in amateur golf for many years. His golfing career
went back to times that seem very dim to a modern generation, and he
must have been one of the very few surviving players, if not the only
one, who had played with the peerless Young Tom Morris. His death was
very sudden, for it was only on Thursday evening that he had presented
the prizes to the winners in a putting tournament at North Berwick.
Our Golf Corresponent writes:-
Leslie Melville Balfour-Melville was born in Edinburgh on March 9,
1854, and was educated at Edinburgh Academy and Edinburgh University.
He was the son of Mr. James Balfour (afterwards Balfour-Melville of
Mount Melville), a good golfer, whose name appears several times in
the list of medal winners at St. Andrews, and the author of a pleasant
little book on St. Andrews links. When at school he was a good
sprinter, and at the age of 18 played Rugby football for Scotland
against England. He won the Lawn Tennis Championship of Scotland in
1879, and may be said to have been the best batsman in Scotland for
something like 30 years. Indeed, had he been an Englishman and had
more opportunities of playing first-class cricket, he would probably
have made a considerable reputation as a cricketer.
It is on his golf, however, that his fame chiefly rests, and the best
of his golf he played on his home course, St. Andrews. It was as Mr.
Leslie Balfour - the name of Melville he assumed much later in life -
that he won his first St. Andrews medal in 1874. This was the gold
medal, the second prize at the autumn meeting, and the extraordinary
improvement that has since taken place in golfing scores is well
illustrated by the fact that his score on this occasion was 97. In
all he won 31 medals of the Royal and Ancient Club and the Jubilee
Vase, while he also won 15 medals of the Honourable Company. One of
his most noteworthy achievements was his victory, at the age of 48, in
the Autumn Medal at St. Andrews in 1902, with the grand score of 77,
then the best on record.
His greatest success was the winning of the Amateur Championship in
1895 after an extraordinary and memorable match with Mr. John Ball.
Mr. Balfour-Melville lost the first three holes, but, playing with
admirable pluck and resolution, became ultimately two up at the Corner
of the Dyke, only to lose the last two holes. At the 19th hole both
played short of the burn with their seconds, but whereas Mr.
Balfour-Melville pitched safely over, Mr. Ball, playing with a mashie
instead of his accustomed iron, put his ball into the burn and so lost
the hole and the Championship. The incident was the more remarkable
because Mr. Balfour-Melville had won his two previous matches in
exactly the same way, both his opponents, Mr. Greig and Mr. Laurence
Auchterlonie, making the same disasterous mistake at the burn. Mr.
Balfour-Melville had reached the final round once before in 1889, when
he lost to Mr. Laidlay, and on four other occasions he reached the
He was beyond doubt a very fine player, gifted with great courage and
wonderful powers of taking pains, by the aid of which he succeeded in
a great measure in overcoming a naturally rather nervous temperament.
He would have been even more successful than he was had he ever
thoroughly conquered a certain weakness on the green. He would often
putt admirably, but on the other hand he would have bad days on which
he would fail continually at very short and easy putts. In all other
parts of the game he was exceedingly steady, and his driving style, if
not noticeably pretty, might yet be cited as a model of orthodoxy.
Writing in the "Badminton Library" volume in 1890, the late Mr.
Everard prophesied that Mr. Balfour-Melville would carry his fine play
late into life, and the prophecy proved a true one, for he bore his
years very lightly, always looked wonderfully fit and well, and when
nearing the age of 60 played golf that most younger men could only
envy. He continued to play, till the last few years of his life, with
enthusiasm and a certain youthful hopefuless very characteristic of
him. A man of a very simple, straightforward, kindly nature, he had
many friends, and it is impossible to conceive of his having had any
enemies. His popularity was well shown by his having been captain
both of the Royal and Ancient Club and the Honourable Company of
Mr. Balfour-Melville was by profession a Writer to the Signet, and
held for many years the post of Clerk to the Commissioners of
Income-tax in Edinburgh. He was twice married, and is survived by his
widow and one son by his first marriage.
Educated at Edinburgh Academy (1865 -1871) where he captained the
football fifteen, but made his mark in cricket. While studying law at
Edinburgh University (1871 - 1875) he was an enthusiastic rugby
player. Sport was his main enjoyment and he represented Scotland at
Rugby Football in 1872. He was also outstanding in Tennis, Golf and
Cricket. Member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St. Andrews in
1873. In 1879 he became Scottish lawn tennis champion. In 1894 he
became a Writer to the Signet and joined his father and brother in the
firm of Balfour & Scott.
According to DNB Leslie assumed the name Melville in 1883, from John
Leslie married Jeanie Amelia Wilson, daughter of Dr. William Wilson and Unknown, on 29 November 1879.352 (Jeanie Amelia Wilson died in 1890.)
Leslie next married Harriet Maud Carey in 1923.352 (Harriet Maud Carey died in 1965.)