Honorary members 1946 to 1955

1946 Field Marshal Montgomery, Thomas Johnston, Winston Churchill
1947 Dwight D Eisenhower
1948 James Bridie, James Barr
1949 Ian Whyte
1950 A B McDonald, Lord John Boyd Orr
1951 Sir Hector Hetherington
1952 Prof. David Daiches, Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh
1953 Sir Alexander Fleming, Sir James Ferguson, Col Bernard Ferguson
1954 Sir John Hunt
1955 Dr Roger Bannister, Lord Bilsland

 

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Field Marshal Montgomery (1887-1976) Honorary member 1946

His life & work:

Bernard Law Montgomery . . . < biography to follow >

His letter, written from Tac Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine, on 27 January, 1946:

Notes:

Dear Sir
     Thank you for your letter informing me that I have been elected an Honorary Member of the Irvine Burns Club. I am much honoured by this distinction which you have conferred on me. I would be glad if you would convey my grateful thanks to all your members.
     Yrs. sincerely
     B. L. Montgomery
     Field-Marshal

"Tac HQ" is short for Tactical HQ.

The main paragraph is typed. The letter is addressed to William Phillips, Esq., President, Irvine Burns Club, Park Terrace, Irvine

Thomas ('Tom') Johnston (1881-1965) Honorary member 1946

His life & work:

< biography to follow > (Secretary of State for Scotland 1941-1945)

His letter, written from “Monteviot”, Kirkintilloch on 14/1/46:

Notes:

Dear Sir,
     I am greatly obliged for and honoured by your letter of 10th January, informing me that I have been unanimously elected an Honorary Member of the ancient Irvine Burns Club, and for the knowledge that I share that dignity with a long list of distinguished men.
     Please inform your colleagues that I most willingly accept.
     Yours Sincerely,
     Thomas Johnston

The letter is addressed to William Phillips, Esq., President, Irvine Burns Club.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) Honorary member 1946

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

The letter written on his behalf from the House of Commons on 30th March, 1946:

Notes:

Dear Sir,
     Mr. Churchill has now seen your letter of the 10th January, in which you inform him that he has been elected an Honorary Member of the Irvine Burns Club, and has asked me to say how pleased he is by this compliment. At the same time I am to express regret that it is not possible for him to reply in his own handwriting, as he is very heavily pressed by both public and private business. He is sure you will understand and excuse him.
     Yours truly,
     Elizabeth Gilliatt
     Private Secretary

The notepaper is embossed with the House of Commons crest, which does not appear in photocopies.

Elizabeth Gilliatt was Churchill's P.S. from 1945 to 1955.

The letter is addressed to The President, Irvine Burns Club.

Dwight D Eisenhower (1890-1969) Honorary member 1947

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from Washington, on 28 November, 1947:

Notes:

Dear Mr McGinn
     I am delighted to have the distinction of honorary membership in The Irvine Burns Club. May I ask you to convey my sentiments of gratitude to all your members for the graciousness of their action?
     Should the fortune bring me opportunity to visit your library you may be sure I shall take instant advantage of it. My pleasure in seeing your interesting souvenirs of the great Scottish poet will be all the deeper if I should be able, also, to call upon you to express my thanks in person.
     Very sincerely
     Dwight D Eisenhower

The letter, on paper headed with a circle of five stars and the initiials D D E, is addressed to Mr Peter McGinn and Mr William Phillips, and is in Eisenhower's own hand.

James Bridie (1888-1951) Honorary member 1948

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from Finnich Malise, Dryman Station, Stirlingshire, on February 14th, 1948:

Notes:

My dear President,
     I think I need hardly tell you how great an honour I feel it to be to be elected to the Honorary Membership of the illustrious Irvine Burns Club. It brings to a sharp focus the pride one feels in belonging to a nation which chooses a great lyric poet for its national hero.
     If there is anything I can do to repay, in some small measure, the kindness you have done me, I hope that you and your successors will not hesitate to ask.
     Yours very sincerely
     James Bridie

 

Rev James Barr (1862-1949) Honorary member 1948

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from the United Free Church of Scotland, 11 Newton Place, Glasgow, C3:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     I am deeply grateful for the honour you and your Club propose to do me in appointing me an Honorary Member of the Irvine Burns Club. I need not say that I highly appreciate the honour, & have much pleasure in accepting it.
     In a fortnight or thereby shall call on you, to see the documents you have, & to talk over matters.
     I will be glad to give you a lecture on Burns at such time as can be arranged.
    With high regard, & many thanks,
     I am,
     yours very sincerely,
     James Barr

Mr Phillips was Hon Secy of the Club.

Ian Whyte (...) Honorary member 1949

His life & work:

<biography to follow>

In our display case is a pen given to Ian Whyte by Sir Harry, inscribed "Ian Whyte, from Sir Harry Lauder, for Service Rendered".

His letter written from 72 Clouston Street, Glasgow, NW, on 20th January 49:

Notes:

Dear Sir,
     Let me thank you and Mr William Phillips for your kind letter: and for the honour you have done me in making me an honorary member of your club. The Irvine Burns Club has a distinguished name, and I hope that my name - now and after - may add grace to it.
     I have always been fully and quietly proud of belonging to that same Scotland to which Robert Burns belonged: after having received your letter I think I shall be more vociferous.
     I repeat my thanks: and I wish you and your fellow members well.
     Yours sincerely
     Ian Whyte

P.S. I will certainly avail myself of the opportunity of seeing the manuscripts: - one fine day I will come and browse. IW

The letter is to President J M McDavid and Hon. Secy William Phillips.

A B McDonald (....-....) Honorary member 1950

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

A different A B McDonald:
?? born in Glassburn, Antigonish County, Nova Scotia
? "Appreciation to A.B. MacDonald.” The Cape Breton Post 18 September, 1952
journals.hil.unb.ca/index.php/Acadiensis/article/download/.../12145

At Pinelands, South Africa's first Garden City: . . . Nearby stands the Methodist Church and Hall, the shingle-roofed Presbyterian Church, of which the foundation stone was laid on November 12, 1938, by Mr. A. B. McDonald.

His letter, written from the Cape Times Building, St George's Street, Cape Town, on 6 March, 1950:

Notes:

Dear Mr Whyte,
     In your kind letter of 12 January, you advised me of the decision of the Irvine Burns Club, to elect me an honorary member. This is most interesting and unexpected, and in accepting I should like to express my sincere appreciation of this great honour. It is assuredly a high privilege to be a member of this famous Club, whose foundation goes back to such early times. It would be a matter of great pride to the present members to know that the founders of the Club so early and so wholeheartedly recognised the merits of the Poet whose understanding and interpretation of the life of the common man have been an inspiration and stimulus to the folk of his own time, and to generations then unborn.
     I note with great interest the priceless treasures possessed by the Club, and I shall hope one day to have an opportunity of seeing them.
     The list of distinguished men who have in the past been Honorary members of the Club, has impressed me greatly and I feel highly honoured in being admited to this company.
     In conclusion, I should like to wish the Club every success and prosperity in the future and I thank the members for admitting me into this distinguished brotherhood.
     With best regards,
     Yours sincerely,
     A B McDonald

The headed notepaper bears A B McDonald's name printed, but without any title attached.

It is addressed to President Robert Whyte

Lord John Boyd Orr (1880-1971) Honorary member 1950

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from Brechin, Angus, on 23rd Jany 1950:

Notes:

Dear Mr Whyte,
     Will you please thank the members of the Club for the great honour they have done to me in adding my name to the list of celebrities who have been elected Honorary Members of the Irvine Burns Club.
     I have much pleasure in accepting your invitation to call and see the valuable original manuscripts the next time I am in the neighbourhood of Irvine.
     Yours sincerely
     Boyd Orr of Brechin

The addressee is Robert Whyte, President.

Sir Hector Hetherington (1888-1965) Honorary member 1951

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from The University, Glasgow, W2, on Jan. 11, 1951:

Notes:

Dear Sir,
     I am much obliged by your letter of Jan. 9th conveying the friendly decision of the Club to elect me to Honorary Membership. It is pleasant to belong to a Society which for 125 years has fulfilled the purpose and pious duty of celebrating the special association of Ayrshire with the greatest of our Scottish poets.
     With warm thanks and all good wishes for the prosperity of the Club.
     Yours sincerely
     Hector Hetherington

The letter, to Pres. A M Skinner, is on headed notepaper also bearing the text "From The Principal, Sir Hector Hetherington".

Prof David Daiches (18912-2005) Honorary member 1952

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from 53E Bateman Street, Cambridge, on 26 January, 1952:

Notes:

Dear Mr Green,
     Your letter of 17th January has been forwarded to me here from Cornell. (I left Cornell last year to return permanently to Britain, and I am now lecturing at Cambridge.) I am honoured indeed to have been elected an Honorary Member of the Irvine Burns Club, of whose history and reputation I am aware, and I should like you to convey to your members my gratitude for the distinction they have bestowed on me and my sense of pride at being associated with Irvine and with the Burns tradition in this way.
     I hope to be in Scotland fairly frequently now that I am back on this side of the Atlantic, and though my family ties are with the East & the North East rather than the South West it is not unlikely that I shall find myself in the neighbourhood of Irvine: if I do, I shall certainly take advantage of your kind invitation to inspect the Irvine Burns Club's possessions.
     Yours sincerely,
     David Daiches

The letter is written to President Archibald Green.

Prince Philip (1921-) Honorary member 1952

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from Clarence House, St James's, on 28th January, 1952:

Notes:

Dear Mr Green
     The Duke of Edinburgh has asked me to say that he has great pleasure in accepting the invitation of the Irvine Burns Club to become an Honorary Member,
     Yours sincerely
     Michael Parker
Private Secretary to The Duke of Edinburgh

The letter, to President Archibald Green, is typed, except for the opening and closing lines written by the Duke's Private Secretary.

Sir Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) Honorary member 1953

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from The Wright-Fleming Institute of Microbiology, St Mary's Hospital Medical School, Paddington, London, W.2, on Jan 14, 53:

Notes:

Dear Mr Guild,
     I received your letter this morning telling me that I had been elected an honorary member of the Irvine Burns Club.
     It is indeed a great honour to appear in the same list with Walter Scott, Garibaldi, Gladstone, Lord Kelvin, and the others you mention in your letter.
     I have been made an honorary member of many Academies, societies, and clubs but none of them has given me the intense pleasure that has my election to your club in my native county dedicated to the master poet that we all revere.
     I thank you most sincerely
     Yours faithfully
     Alexander Fleming

William G Guild was President in 1953.

Sir Walter Scott was nominated, but seems not to have confirmed acceptance, Col. Walter Scott accepted, and Gladstone seems not to have been nominated.

Sir James Fergusson (1904-1973) Honorary member 1953

His life & work:

< biography to follow > (of Kilkerran)

His letter, written from the New Club, Edinburgh, on 15 January 1953:

Notes:

Dear Sir,
     I thank you for your letter of the 13th, and beg you to express to the members of the Irvine Burns Club my grateful appreciation of the honour they have done me in electing me an honorary member of their Club.
     Yours faithfully
     James Fergusson
     of Kilkerran

 

Col. Bernard Fergusson (1911-1980) Honorary member 1953

His life & work:

< biography to follow > (WW II soldier, later Governor General of New Zealand and Lord Ballantrae)

His letter, written from 137, Boulevard de le Reine, Versailles, Seine-et-Oise, France, on 19 January 1953:

Notes:

Gentlemen:-
     I was delighted to receive this morning your letter telling me of the honour which the Irvine Burns Club has done me in electing me an Honorary Member. I am well acquainted with the long and distinguished history of your Club, and I have also happy links with Irvine: for though I am Carrick my mother is Kyle, and was brought up at Shewalton, not far away. And ever since I was a schoolboy I have been a devotee of Galt: even here during my sojourn in France six of his books are on a shelf three yards from my shoulder as I write this letter. I was once also privileged to speak at your drumhead service on the Moor, when Mr Wishart was still your minister. And my father had done the same before me.
     So this is for me a very real honour, and I propose to indulge in exploiting the privilege of my membetrship the next tinme that Her Majesty's Service brings me home to my native country.
     Please tell the members of your Club how grateful I am for the honour which they have conferred on me; and I am
     Yours sincerely
     Bernard Fergusson
     Colonel
I bought two years ago the house of Auchairne, near Ballantrae, in the Stinchar Valley: so when my time comes to retire, I shall not be too remote from Irvine.

A 'drumhead service' is one conducted in the field.

Rev. James Wishart was minister of the Wilson-Fullarton Church from 1902 to 1947.

Sir John Hunt(1910-1998) Honorary member 1954

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written on the headed paper of the British Mount Everest Expedition 1953, from the Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7, on 16 January 1954:

Notes:

Dear Mr President,
     I write to acknowledge your kind letter of 12th January & to tell you that I deem it a great honour to have been elected to honorary membership of the Irvine Burns Club - the more so when I see the illustrious company, past and present, which you have listed.
     With sincere and faithful thanks
     Yours sincerely
     John Hunt

 

Sir Roger Bannister (1929-) Honorary member 1955

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from St Mary's Hospital, W.2., undated:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     Thank you very much for your letter. I feel very honoured to have been elected an honorary member of your society and have much pleasure in accepting.
     Yours sincerely
     R G Bannister

 

Lord Bilsland (1892-1970) Honorary member 1955

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from 89 West Campbell Street, Glasgow, C.2, on 15 Decr, 1954:

Notes:

Dear Mr Lockhart
     I have received with the greatest pleasure your kind letter of 10th Decr. informing me that at the Annual Meeting of the Irvine Burns Club on 10th January I will be elected an Honorary Member. I should like to assure you and the members of the Club that I shall greatly value the honour you propose to confer upon me. It will indeed be a great honour to have my name added to the very distinguished list of those upon whom you have conferred the honour of Honorary Membership in the past.
     Yours Sincerely
     Bilsland

 

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