OBITUARY: George Sinclair-Stevenson

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George Sinclair-Stevenson was once the doyen of the lawyers of Hong Kong.

The personification of the English gentleman, he was elegantly mannered, discreet, and dressed to match. He was of a family which helped establish the good name of Britain in the world and in its third generation to be born abroad. He inherited from an Argentinian great-uncle the title of Baron of Belgrano but he never used it.

He was brought up and educated in New Jersey. But in 1924 Cheltenham College became his Alma Mater, then Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he graduated in Modern Languages and Law. He qualified as a lawyer in 1926.

A true patriot, he joined the Supplementary Reserve in 1938 and was gazetted as an officer into the Coldstream Guards. Six foot six inches tall, handsome and debonair, he looked the part. A year later he was living it in full measure. A gifted linguist, he acted as a liaison officer with Allied forces in North Africa, Belgium and Germany.

He returned to law in 1946 but, after three years, was attracted to Macmillans the publishers, and appointed head of their Amsterdam office. In 1951 he forsook publishing for general trading, to become vice-president of the house of Bunge, in Tokyo. When he accepted a three-year contract with a small firm of solicitors in Hong Kong, the arrangement proved so satisfactory that he bought out the firm and retitled it Stevenson, Low. From then until his retirement in 1991, he was its senior partner, legal adviser to the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, and the holder of a number of directorships and consultancies.

A gregarious and clubbable man, George Sinclair-Stevenson was President of the Law Society of Hong Kong and of the Hong Kong Society of Notaries, a member of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and of the Supreme Court Rules Committee. He was also twice President of the Hong Kong YMCA and an active member of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, part-owning several horses.

Sinclair-Stevenson had a pronounced, albeit discreet, love of life's pleasures. He kept a gourmet's cellar and was a founder member of Hong Kong's Tuesday Club, a gathering of the community's high-fliers. He loved women, too, and was married four times; first in 1938 to his compatriot Gloria Gordon. Their only child, the publisher Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson, inherits the title of Baron. His second wife was Belgian, Lydia Eggerick, who died. In 1966 he married Marie Pui-Lai Young, a Chinese, a marriage that lasted for 25 years. His fourth wife was Swiss. Dynamic and attractive, Sonja Lindblad was the vice-president of the Lindblad Travel shipping line. But he had become pessimistic about Hong Kong. In a valedictory speech he said, "I have seen the better years of Hong Kong. I do not really want to watch the end of them all."

He and Sonja Lindblad retired to the Mediterranean island of Gozo, Malta. There, they married and magnificently reconditioned an old farmhouse to which friends from all over the world came to visit them. Both continued to be consulted and, right up until his death, Hong Kong people continued to seek the opinion of this scholarly and silken man with the common touch.

George Egbert Sinclair- Stevenson, lawyer: born Langford, New Jersey 25 December 1911; MBE 1946; senior partner, Stevenson, Low 1951-91; married 1938 Gloria Gordon (one son; marriage dissolved 1947), 1948 Lydia Eggerick (died 1965), 1966 Marie Pui-Lai Young (marriage dissolved 1992), 1992 Sonja Lindblad; died Gozo, Malta 14 January 1996.