James Honeyman

(circa mid- to latter 19th century)

The ‘Notices of Pipers,’ provides rare information on James Honeyman. These notices were compiled by Lt. John McLennan, father of G. S. McLennan, and revised by Major I. H. MacKay Scobie and Archibald Campbell of Kliberry. Piping Times acquired them from G. S.’s half brother, D. R. McLennan and published them over many years in the 1960s and 1970s. James Honeyman’s notice appeared in the July 1969 issue as follows:

A native of Falkirk. Piper in the Black Watch. Served in the Ashanti Campaign of 1874. When the 42nd was at Malta in 1876, one of the officers who was a keen piper (Lord Alexander Kennedy) went on leave to the Holy Land. On his return he was greeted by Honeyman who informed him he had composed a tune. Lord Alexander asked what the name was to be. “I intend to call it ‘Lord Alexander Kennedy’s Farewell to Gethsemane’,” said Honeyman. Lord Alexander, however, suggested that this was hardly appropriate, and Honeyman took a lot of convincing before he altered it to “Lord A. Kennedy’s March”. Honeyman afterwards worked at Falkirk iron works, and died there in 1889. His brother and father were pipers in the 42nd.
 
It should be noted that in ‘The Highland Bagpipe’ (1901), W. L. Manson did not have Honeyman dying in 1889:
 
Pipe Major James Honeyman, still alive, came through the Mutiny and Ashanti Wars, leading his regiment into Coomassie. John Honeyman, his brother, was also a piper, and so was their father before them.
 
Honeyman’s six-parted march is now generally known simply as “Lord Alexander Kennedy” and has stood the test of time as one of the greatest of the old competition-style marches along with the likes of “Highland Wedding” and ‘Donald Cameron.” The ‘Notices of Pipers’ has this to say about Alexander Kennedy:
 
Son of the Marquis of Ailsa. Entered the 42nd Highlanders (Black Watch), and served in the Ashanti Campaign of 1874. Was a keen amateur piper, and composed pipe tunes, or adapted fiddle airs for the pipes. He was the subject of a very fine march, composed by Piper Honeyman.

JM, June 2007
-with sources as cited above