Lord Bill Patterson, Blairgowrie.

Clan Macpherson bids a sad farewell to Sir William, 94

Tributes have been paid to Sir William Alan Macpherson of Cluny, the head of Clan Macpherson, who died on Sunday.

Sir William, who was 94, was the 27th hereditary chief of the Clan Macpherson of Cluny (Cluny-Macpherson), and marked 50 years as Chief on June 18 2019.

He was a Judge of the High Court of England and Wales (Queen’s Bench Division) where he served as Presiding Judge of the Northern Circuit until his retirement in April 1996. Famously, he led the report into the Metropolitan Police after the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Before his appointment as a judge, Sir William was a Queen’s Counsel practising in London and abroad.

The Clan Macpherson Association revealed the sad news on their website.

It said: ‘I am saddened to have to bear the news that our 27th Chief, Sir William Macpherson of Cluny and Blairgowrie – “Cluny” to us all – died peacefully at home on the 14 February 2021, surrounded by his family.

Sir William Macpherson, the chief of Clan Macpherson (Photo: Angus Blackburn)

‘We were fortunate to have had his guidance, support and leadership for an incredible 50 years and the world will have benefited from his 94 years on this earth.

‘His phrase “first amongst equals” doesn’t even start to mark the presence he had. Through his work in law (what better epitaph could someone wish for that the phrase used by a journalist “He made Britain a better place for me to live”) to his leadership at the after-ceilidh-ceilidh he was a man who left his mark on those he met.

‘To his son Jamie and daughter Annie, their families and Lady Hilary we offer our condolences and to him thanks for being part of his life. May he rest in peace.’

He was educated at Summer Fields, Oxford; Wellington College, Berkshire; and Trinity College, Oxford. During the period 1944-1947, Sir William served in the Scots Guards, transferring to the 21st Special Air Service Regiment (Territorial Army) with whom he served until 1965. He has served as the Honorary Colonel of the 21st SAS since 1983.

Sir William was born on April 1 1926. In 1962 Sir William married Sheila McDonald Brodie. They have three children: Annie, the late Alan Thomas (younger of Cluny) and James Brodie (Tanistair of the House of Cluny-Macpherson). The family’s home is Newton Castle, Blairgowrie, Perthshire. Blairgowrie has been the home of the Macphersons since 1787, when it was purchased by James “Ossian” Macpherson as the agent for Cluny’s ancestor.

Paying tribute, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: ‘Very sorry to hear of the death of my constituent, Sir William Macpherson, distinguished High Court judge, who led the Inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence case. The challenge, rigour and humanity of his report was a product of who he was. He did much good locally in Blairgowrie.”

Sir William spoke to Scottish Field in 2016 and his interview can be found HERE.