Sir William Alan Macpherson of Cluny was the 27th hereditary chief of the Clan Macpherson of Cluny (Cluny-Macpherson) and marked 50 years as chief in June 2019.
He was, however, better known to many as one of the UK’s most respected members of the legal profession, as Queen’s Council and as a judge.
Sir William, who died on Sunday aged 94, 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 inquiry into the Metropolitan Police after the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
Sir William’s report at the end of the inquiry in 1999 was considered groundbreaking and one of the most significant moments in the history of UK criminal justice.
Before his appointment as a judge, Sir William was a Queen’s Counsel practising in London and abroad.
The Clan Macpherson Association said: “We are 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 February 14, surrounded by his family.
“We were fortunate to have had his guidance, support and leadership for an incredible 50 years.
“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 to his leadership at the after-ceilidh ceilidh, he was a man who left his mark on those he met.
“What better epitaph could someone wish for than the phrase once used by a journalist: ‘He made Britain a better place for me to live’.
“To his son Jamie and daughter Annie, their families and Lady Hilary we offer our condolences. And to him – thanks for being part of our life.
“May he rest in peace.”
Sir William was educated at Summer Fields, Oxford; Wellington College, Berkshire and Trinity College, Oxford.
During the period 1944-1947, he served in the Scots Guards, transferring to the 21st Special Air Service Regiment (Territorial Army) with whom he served until 1965.
He had served as the Honorary Colonel of the 21st SAS since 1983.
Born on April 1, 1926, Sir William married Sheila McDonald Brodie in 1962.
Together they had three children: Annie, the late Alan Thomas (younger of Cluny) and James Brodie (Tanistair of the House of Cluny-Macpherson).
The family home is Newton Castle, Blairgowrie, which has been the the seat of the Macphersons since 1787, when it was purchased by James ‘Ossian’ Macpherson as the agent for Cluny’s ancestor.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney paid tribute to Sir William’s “humanity”.
“I am 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,” he said.
“The challenge, rigour and humanity of his report was a product of who he was.
“He also did much good locally in Blairgowrie.”
The Clan Macpherson Association Gathering is held annually at Newtonmore on the first Saturday in August in conjunction with the Newtonmore Highland Games.
The Clan Macpherson Museum at Newtonmore – the first of its kind in Scotland – is currently being refurbished.