Obituary: William Ian Stewart, 86

William Ian Stewart, Lord Allanbridge, had a strong interest in politics
William Ian Stewart, Lord Allanbridge, had a strong interest in politics
Have your say

A distinguished and highly respected servant of Scotland’s justice system has died in Edinburgh at the age of 86.

William Ian Stewart was born in Bridge of Allan in November 1925, his affection for his hometown no more apparent than when he picked the title Lord Allanbridge upon his appointment as a senator of the College of Justice in 1977, there already being a Lord Stewart on the bench.

Ian was educated at boarding school, at Loretto, before volunteering to join the services and electing to become an ordinary seaman in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

He was enrolled in the university short naval course, combining nautical and academic learning, which involved six months of training in Cambridge.

After leaving the navy in 1946, he chose to study at the University of Glasgow and after graduating transferred to Edinburgh to complete his education and prepare for his career at the bar.

Ian made many friends in the Capital, and was called to the bar in 1951, quickly making his mark.

With other young members, he occupied a house in Abercromby Place in the New Town.

Maintaining a strong interest in politics, he stood as the Conservative candidate for West Lothian in 1962, but succumbed under the pressure of formidable competition from Tam Dalyell and had the misfortune of becoming the first Tory to lose his deposit.

On the legal front, Ian’s career was extensive and diverse. He joined the Crown Office as an advocate depute in 1959, serving there for five years, when he had to bow to custom and demit office because of a change of government.

He was reappointed to the Crown Office as home advocate depute when the Conservatives returned to power in 1970 and two years later became solicitor general.

When Labour regained control of Westminster in 1974, Ian again demitted office and was appointed sheriff principal of Dumfries and Galloway, where he remained until he went on to the bench in 1977.

He was known as a wise and careful judge and latterly spent time in the Appeal Court, before retiring as a full-time judge in 1995.

That gave him the opportunity to join the Court of Appeal in Botswana, which he described as one of the most enjoyable periods of his career.

Away from work, Ian was a keen walker and sailor. The Lake District was a regular destination.

He married Joan Douglas, the daughter of a well-known farmer in Kirkcudbrightshire, in 1955 and they had two children – John and Angela. He had two grandchildren, Ian and Naomi.

His retirement years were full and active until the loss of his wife in 2005. In recent years, he was looked after by Angela and a team of dedicated and loyal carers, whose efforts he held in very high regard.

He lived at home in Edinburgh until his death on June 21.