William Alexander Jardine Watson

October 27, 1933November 7, 2018

William Alexander Jardine Watson, 85, a world-renowned expert on Roman law, comparative law, legal history, and law and religion, died Wednesday, November 7, 2018. For more than two decades, he held the Ernest P. Rogers Chair at the University of Georgia School of Law, as well as a University Distinguished Research Professorship. Prior to that, he was the Nicolas F. Gallicchio Chair at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, as well as a University Professor. He was also an honorary visiting professor at the University of Edinburgh, where he held the Chair of Civil Law from 1968 until 1980.

A prolific scholar, he authored more than 100 articles, as well as numerous books, the best known of which is “Legal Transplants: An Approach to Comparative Law.” He coined the term, “legal transplants,” which is now ubiquitous in legal literature. In addition, he served as the editor of “The Digest of Justinian,” 2d ed., overseeing its translation from the original Latin into English. In 2005, the University of Belgrade established the Alan Watson Foundation in his honor, dedicated to developing international cooperation in the fields of comparative law and legal history.

Born in Hamilton, Scotland, he earned seven degrees in total from the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Oxford, at all of which he later taught. He received six honorary degrees from the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belgrade, Palermo, Pretoria and Stockholm.

He is survived by his wife, Camilla Emanuel Watson, a professor at the University of Georgia School of Law; children, Sarah Alexandra Campbell of Dacula, Georgia, Eleanor Ann McCulloch of Sydney, Australia and David Jardine Watson of London, England; grandchildren, Wyatt Alexander Jardine Campbell, Emma Frances Jardine McCulloch and Rosie Piper Jardine McCulloch.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Bernstein Funeral Home, Athens, is in charge of arrangements.


  • A Memorial Service Friday, March 8, 2019

William Alexander Jardine Watson

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