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David Wilson, Baron Wilson of Tillyorn: Wikis


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The Right Honourable
 The Lord Wilson of Tillyorn 

Assumed office 
Preceded by Sir Michael Atiyah

In office
2002 – 2008
Preceded by Sir John Meurig Thomas
Succeeded by Adrian Dixon

27th Governor of Hong Kong
In office
9 April 1987 – 9 July 1992
Preceded by Sir Edward Youde
Succeeded by Chris Patten

Born 14 February 1935 (1935-02-14) (age 74)
Spouse(s) Natasha Helen Mary
Alma mater Keble College, Oxford, University of London, University of Hong Kong
Profession colonial administrator, diplomat, sinologist

David Clive Wilson, Baron Wilson of Tillyorn, KT, GCMG, PRSE (born 14 February 1935) is a retired British administrator, diplomat and Sinologist. Lord Wilson of Tillyorn was the second to last Commander-in-Chief and 27th Governor of Hong Kong (from 1987 to 1992).


Early life and career

Wilson was born in Scotland and was educated at Trinity College, Glenalmond, Keble College, Oxford (1955-58, Master of Arts), and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London ( Ph.D. in contemporary Chinese history). He studied Chinese at the University of Hong Kong from 1960 to 1962 and then served in the British Mission in Beijing.

In 1968 Wilson resigned from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to edit The China Quarterly at the School of Oriental and African Studies. After rejoining the Diplomatic Service in 1974 he worked in the Cabinet Office and then, from 1977 to 1981, as Political Adviser to Sir Murray MacLehose, then Governor of Hong Kong. Following that he became Head of Southern European Department in the FCO and then Assistant Under Secretary for Asia and the Pacific during which time he was Head of the British side of the Working Group engaged in drafting the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong and then, in 1984, the first Senior British Representative on the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group (中英聯合聯絡小組) set up under the Joint Declaration.

Name in Chinese

Originally, Wilson was given the Chinese name of Wèi Déwéi (魏德巍 Jyutping: Ngai6 Dak1-ngai4), standing for Wilson, David. However, some in the Hong Kong media found this name quite inauspicious, as the characters of 魏 and 巍 both contained the character for ghost (鬼). (The media described it as "two ghosts knocking on the door"(雙鬼拍門). ) Also, both these characters pun with the character for danger (危) or insincere (偽). So on becoming Governor of Hong Kong he changed his name to Wèi Yìxìn (衛奕信 Wai6 Jik6-seon3) as a better transliteration of his family name into Cantonese.

Hong Kong governorship

As Governor, Wilson had to deal with the fallout in Hong Kong from the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing. He also encountered the Vietnamese boat refugee problem, which steadily grew worse and led to the first returns to Vietnam of those found not to qualify for refugee status. In October 1989, Wilson proposed, in the Governor's Annual Policy Address, the building of an airport on Lantau Island, known as the Rose Garden Project (玫瑰園計劃 see Hong Kong International Airport). The proposal was created out of concern that the then-current airport at Kai Tak, which had been in use since the beginning of Aviation in Hong Kong, was not equipped to handle modern aviation needs.

Wilson left Hong Kong in June 1992 following the completion of his five year term as Governor. Before his retirement Wilson embarked on political reforms that paved the way for eighteen legislators of the Legislative Council to be directly elected by the people of Hong Kong.


After his governorship and the elevation to a life peerage with the title Baron Wilson of Tillyorn, of Finzean in the District of Kincardine and Deeside and of Fanling in Hong Kong in 1992, Wilson became the Chairman of the energy company Scottish Hydro Electric plc. (later Scottish and Southern Energy) based in Perth, Scotland from 1993 - 2000. He was a member of the Board of the British Council (and Chairman of its Scottish Committee) from 1993-2002; a Director of the Martin Currie Pacific Trust from 1993-2002 and Chairman of the Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland from 2002-06. In 1996 he was appointed a Vice-President of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society; and he has been Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen since 1997. He was President of the Bhutan Society of the UK (1993-2008), the Hong Kong Society (1994- ) and the Hong Kong Association (1994- ). Wilson was made a Knight of the Thistle in 2000. He served as Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge from 2002 to 2008. I know Lord Wilson moved some mountains through the House at the time I applied to Peterhouse, where he with the Fellows ran the College with expertise and a sense for great quality of academic and professional expertise (MD Stagg, that is the best factual reference I can give, professional contact). Since October 2008 he has been President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Places named after him

The 78-kilometre Wilson Trail, containing ten hiking segments aligned north-south in Hong Kong, is named after him, as is the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust (衛奕信勳爵文物信託) based in Wanchai, established in December 1992 to preserve Hong Kong's historical culture.

Personal life

Wilson has been married to Natasha Helen Mary since 1967. They have two sons, Peter (a diplomat) and Andrew (a Church of England clergyman).


Wilson was criticised by the pro-democracy camp for not moving more quickly towards a fully elected Legislature based on universal suffrage and for paying too much attention to the views of the Government in China in agreeing arrangements for a process of increasing the number of fully elected seats up to and beyond the transfer of sovereignty in 1997.


  • KT
  • GCMG
  • Honorary Fellowship of Keble College from 1986/87
  • Honorary degrees from the University of Aberdeen (19??), University of Sydney (1991), University of Abertay Dundee (1994), Chinese University of Hong Kong (1996) and the University of Hong Kong (2006)


  • Mr David Wilson
  • Dr David Wilson
  • Lord Wilson of Tillyorn (1992-)

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Edward Youde
President of the Legislative Council
1987 – 1992
Succeeded by
Chris Patten
Preceded by
Sir Edward Youde
Governor of Hong Kong
1987 – 1992
Succeeded by
Chris Patten
Academic offices
Preceded by
Sir John Meurig Thomas
Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge
2002 – 2008
Succeeded by
Adrian Dixon
Preceded by
Sir Michael Atiyah
President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
2008 –
Succeeded by


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