Honorary members 1896 to 1907

1896 Alexander Longmuir
1897 Lord Kelvin
1898 Hall Caine, Lord Wolseley
1899 Sir Alexander C Mackenzie, Sir Archibald Hunter, Rev. Alfred Ainger, Lord Balfour of Burleigh
1900 Francis C Burnand, The Marquis of Dufferin & Ava, Rudyard Kipling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
1901 John Tenniel, 7th Earl of Hopetoun
1902 Lord Milner
1904 Andrew Carnegie
1906 Henry Campbell-Bannerman
1907 Lord Young, James Bryce, Lord Loreburn


you can move to the next page of honorary members
without closing
this window,
by clicking next honorary page

Alexander Longmuir (c.1823-1913) Honorary member 1896

His life & work:

Irvine-born Alexander Longmuir was a grain merchant, then a bank agent, for The Clydesdale Bank from 1868, for 33 years until retiral in 1901. [In the 1860s, he lived on Bank St.; in 1881, his address was 81 High St; in 1913, he is 'of Roseholm'.] Alexander and two of his sons served Irvine Burns Club as office-bearers.

Alexander became Club Treasurer in 1862, holding that office for 32 years until 1894, when he was succeeded as Treasurer by his son Robert. He served as Club President in 1865. His Club membership dated from 1851. At his death, he was a Director and an Honorary Member, and our minutes declare that "his record in the history of the Club is unique".

Robert F Longmuir (1864-1942, in Irvine; his middle name is the maiden surname of his mother Eliza Findlay, of Beith) took on the role of Treasurer in 1894. His term of office as President in 1901 was extended by a year into 1902, as the 22nd January death of Queen Victoria had prompted the cancellation of the 1901 Annual Celebration. He was a ship broker. His long service as Treasurer was marked by honorary membership in 1926.

James F Longmuir (1856-1937, in Troon), a grain merchant living on Kilwinning Road in Irvine, was Club President in 1892. He was a lieutenant in the 'Irvine Company' Ayrshire Rifle Volunteers, later (1880) the 1st Ayrshire Rifle Volunteers. His first son was, as was customary, named after his grandfather.

His letter, written from the Clydesdale Bank, Irvine, on 27th Jany, 1896:


Dear Sir
     I have much pleasure in acknowlwedging the receipt of your letter of the 25th Inst. intimating my election as an Honorary Member of "The Irvine Burns Club.
     The past kindness and consideration of the Club in continuing the appointment of Hony. Treasurer in my family; as also, the Extract from the Records of the Club I received on my resignation of the Treasurership, are very gratifying to my feelings; and conjoined with this later honourable mark of distinction just conferred upon me, evoke my sincere and heartfelt thanks. With kindest regards for the welfare, and continued prosperity of the Club,
     I remain
     Yours very faithfully
     A. Longmuir

The letter is addressed to James Dickie, Esq., Hon. Secy., The Irvine Burns Club.

His son succeeded him as Hon. Treasurer.

Lord Kelvin (1824-1907) Honorary member 1897

His life & work:

Described on St Andrew's Day 2010 as a "colossus of world science", William Thomson was born in Belfast, but the family moved to Glasgow when his father was appointed Professor of Mathematics there in 1833. William began study at Glasgow University at the age of 10 - it provided many of the facilities of an elementary school for able pupils, and this was a typical starting age. Thomson showed a keen interest in the classics along with his natural interest in the sciences. At the age of 12 he won a prize for translating Lucian of Samosata's Dialogues of the Gods from Latin into English. He went on to excel at Cambridge, where he was also active in sports, athletics and sculling. In 1846, he was appointed by the University of Glasgow to the chair of Natural Philosophy, becoming, at age 22, a learned professor in one of the oldest Universities in the country. Despite later offers of elevated posts from several world-renowned universities, he remained in this post for over 50 years, and became Chancellor of the University in 1904.

A mathematical physicist and engineer, he developed the basis of absolute zero, resulting in the Kelvin unit of temperature being named after him. He collaborated with Joule on kinetic theory in the mid-1850s. Elected to the Board of the Atlantic Telegraph Company, he was scientific adviser to a team laying transatlantic cable; completed in 1858, it proved unsuccessful through no fault of his, and a new one was laid in 1866. This success led to a knighthood from Queen Victoria in that same year. In 1867 he published his 'Treatise on Natural Philosophy', which did much to define the modern discipline of physics. Being an enthusiastic yachtsman, he improved the adjustable compass.

In 1892 Thomson became the first UK scientist to be elevated to the House of Lords. He took the title Kelvin of Largs, from the River Kelvin which flows close by his laboratory at the University and from the town of Largs where he lived in an imposing red sandstone mansion, Netherhall. In 1893, he headed an international committee to decide on the design of the Niagara Falls power station. In 1897, he estimated the age of the Earth as between 20 and 40 million years (well short of the 4.6 b. years now calculated, but provoking intense debate in his day). One of his few wrong predictions regarded aviation - he said in 1902 that "No balloon or aeroplane will ever be practically successful".

Kelvin is buried in Westminster Abbey, next to Isaac Newton. A devout Christian, he was for many years an elder in St Columba's Parish Church in Largs. Many of his original papers, instruments and artifacts are on permanent display in the Hunterian Museum at the University.

His letter, written from The University, Glasgow, on January 27, 1897:


Dear Sir,
     I thank you for your kind letter of the 19th in which you inform me that I have been elected a member of the Irvine Burns' Club and I beg that you will express my thanks to the members of the club for their kindness in electing me.
     Yours truly,


Hall Caine (1853-1931) Honorary member 1898

His life & work:

Hall Caine (Sir Thomas Henry Hall Caine CH, KBE) was an enormously popular and best-selling author in his time, and was at about mid-career at the time of the Irvine Burns Club nomination as an Honorary Member. During the previous year, in 1897, his 14th novel, 'The Christian', had proved his most successful yet - it was the first novel in Britain to sell over a million copies. Later, he declined a baronetcy but accepted a knighthood (1918).

Caine is today virtually unknown and unremembered. His novels, though primarily romances, also addressed political and social issues - 'The Christian' handled the problems encountered by a young woman trying to live an independent life. Queen Alexandra enjoyed his Manx novels, so when she and King Edward VII visited the Isle of Man in 1902, Caine was invited to join them on the royal yacht and on their tour of the island the following day; in that year, all Caine's novels were still in print and the following year six companies were performing the theatre version of 'The Eternal City' in four continents. Caine edited books for the Queen's charities in 1905 and 1908, and one in 1914 in support of the exiled King Albert of Belgium, leading to his appointment as an Officer of the Order of Leopold of Belgium. During WWI, he devoted himself almost exclusively to British propaganda in the United States. By the 1920s, he was referred to as a "Victorian author". A 1920s encyclopedia comments that his novels were "all popular, though meeting with severe criticism at the hands of critics".

An aspiring man of letters, he was in contact with many of the leading personalities of the day, particularly those of a socialist leaning, and was largely self-taught. Following a well-received review of 'Macbeth', he and Henry Irving became good friends. His friends also included Bram Stoker and Rossetti (in whose last two years, 1880-82, he acted as "secretary, companion, housekeeper and eventually nurse").

Many of his novels were made into films (black and white silent films), such as 'The Christian' in 1915 and again in 1923. 'The Manxman' (1917) drew huge crowds. Alfred Hitchcock's later (1929) version of 'The Manxman' was Hitchcock's last silent film. The two men did not get on well with each other, and shooting, though begun on the Isle of Man, was completed in Cornwall.

He married his devoted wife Mary in Edinburgh, under Scottish law, by declaration before witnesses, in 1886. They had lived together from 1883 (he was 29 and she 13, then the age of consent) and had a son in 1884.

Hall Caine travelled widely, including in Iceland, Morocco, Russia and North America, so it is no surprise that the acceptance is from a member of his staff and that there was apparently no subsequent personal letter. One important legacy of a visit in 1895 to North America for the Society of Authors was his successful negotiation for the introduction of copyright protection there.

Hall Caine Airport was an airfield on the Isle of Man (located near Ramsey), named after the author by his sons Gordon Hall Caine and Derwent Hall Caine, who were the project initiators. Hall Caine Airport flourished for a short period prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. From 1935 to 1937 it handled domestic scheduled passenger flights to English, Scottish and Irish airports. By 1937 it had fallen into disuse, primarily due to its location.

For more on this one-off character, see

The letter in our files, from Greeba Castle, Isle of Man, on Feb. 9th 1898:


Dear Sir,
     Mr Hall Caine is spending the winter on the Continent, and will not be back for a month at least, but he will have your letter immediately on his return.
     I need hardly add that Mr Caine will be very sensible of the honour your Club has done him.
     Yours faithfully
     A. J. Phillips

The letter, being just a note, is typed.

Greeba Castle is an 1849 castellated house, originally rented by the Caines, then bought by them in 1896, and his home until his death.

We presume that A J Phillips is one of Hall Caine's staff.

Lord Wolseley (1833-1913) Honorary member 1898

His life & work:

At the time of his Irvine nomination, Lord Wolseley was Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, a position he held from 1895 to 1901. He had served in Burma, the Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny, China, Canada, and widely throughout Africa - including his brilliantly executed Ashanti campaign (1873–1874) and the Nile Expedition against Mahdist Sudan in 1884-85. His reputation for efficiency led to the late 19th-century English phrase "everything's all Sir Garnet", meaning "all is in order". From 1890-95 he served as Commander-in-Chief, Ireland.

Garnet Joseph Wolseley was knighted at the end of the Ashanti campaign in 1874. After a short and brilliant campaign in Egypt in 1882, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Wolseley of Cairo and of Wolseley in the County of Stafford. After the Nile Expedition of 1884, he was created Viscount Wolseley.

Lord Wolseley was an outstanding soldier in the field and an excellent administrator, with an eye for efficiency, in the War Office. He was succeeded, as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, by Lord Roberts of Kandahar, whom the Irvine Burns Club Directors had already recognised with Honorary Membership in 1894.

The letter written on his behalf by George H Gough, Col., from the War Office, London, S.W., on 27.1.98:


Dear Sir,
     I am desired by Lord Wolseley to thank you very much for the honor you have done him in making him an Honorary Member of the 'Irvine Burns' Club.
     ffy yours,
     George H Gough, Col.

The War Office address is embossed, so does not appear on photocopies. The paper also bears the seal of Commander-in-Chief.

ffy = faithfully
P.S. = Private Secretary

Sir Alexander C Mackenzie (1847-1935) Honorary member 1899

His life & work:

Edinburgh-born Sir Alexander was a Scottish composer, conductor and teacher best known for his oratorios, violin and piano pieces, Scottish folk music and works for the stage.

He was a member of a musical family and was sent for his musical education to Germany. From 1865, for about ten years, he was back in Edinburgh, with a heavy workload, teaching music, both privately and in colleges, and playing the violin in orchestral concerts.

Mackenzie had many successes as a composer, producing over 90 compositions. He first achieved national fame as a composer of vocal music during the 1880s. Following other successful pieces in 1881 and 1882, 'The 'Rose of Sharon', written for the Norwich Festival of 1884, became his most famous choral work. See our note below for the dates of his three 'Scottish Rhapsodies'.

From 1888 to 1924, he devoted a great part of his energies to running the Royal Academy of Music. Together with Hubert Parry and Charles Villiers Stanford, he is regarded as one of the fathers of the British musical renaissance in the late nineteenth century.

Between 1892 and 1899, Mackenzie was conductor of the Royal Choral Society and the Philharmonic Society Orchestra, giving the British premieres of many works, including symphonies by Tchaikovsky and Borodin. From the 1890s, his professional prominence brought him many honours from universities and learned societies in Britain and abroad. He was knighted in 1895.

His letter, written from the Royal Academy of Music, Tenterden Street, Hanover Square, W., London on Jan. 28th 1899:


Dear Sir,
     I shall be very much favoured if you will kindly convey my warm thanks to the members of the Irvine Burns Club for the honour they have conferred upon me, in electing me an honorary member of their well-known Club. It is a distinction which is highly valued and appreciated by me. I only regret that distance, and much occupation, prevents me from making the personal acquaintance of the members of the Club and from sharing their enjoyment of the national treasures you mention in your letter.
    It may interest them to know that I have myself contributed to Burns (musical) literature by writing two orchestral Scottish Rhapsodies, the second and larger of which (entitled "Burns") has been played a good deal in other countries than our own.
     With repeated thanks for your welcome communication and sincere wishes for the welfare of the Club.
     Believe me
     Dear Sir
     Very faithfully yours
     A. C. Mackenzie

His Scottish Rhapsodies were premiered in 1880 and 1881.

Much later, in 1911, he produced Scottish Rhapsody No.3, titled 'Tam O' Shanter'.

Sir Archibald Hunter (1856-1936) Honorary member 1899

His life & work:

Archie Hunter, the website of the Melik Society tells us, was one of the most effective front-line commanders of the late Victorian era. Through long and rugged service in the Egyptian Army he distinguished himself in many a “frontier” skirmish rising to become Kitchener’s commander of the Egyptian infantry division in the campaign to reconquer the Sudan 1896-8. A tough Scot, he had the humour and personal magnetism which his superior lacked and was described by Churchill as the “darling of the Egyptian Army”.

Later, he was one of the few senior officers to emerge from the Boer War with an enhanced reputation. However, although on retirement he was the senior General of the British Army, he was denied the ultimate military prize of the Field Marshal’s baton. In 1909, he was General Officer commanding in Scotland. His Governorship of Gibraltar (1910-3) exposed a certain inability to cope with politicians and prominent civilians. Described by the Prime Minister, Asquith, as the best general in the army but “subject to fits of madness”, he was denied active command in World War 1 and remained in a training role at Aldershot.

After the war, perhaps surprisingly given his opinion of politicians, he became an MP 1918-22 but made little impact. For many years he was ignored by historians but two recent books, “A Soldier’s Hero” by Duncan Doolittle and ”Kitchener’s Sword-Arm” by his namesake Archie Hunter have preserved his reputation for posterity.

His letter, written from the Naval and Military Club, 94, Piccadilly, W., on 29th Jany 1899:


     I highly appreciate the honour of being elected an Honorary Member of the Irvine Burns Club, and offer my best thanks to the Members & to your Secy for your kindness in so electing me.
     Yours faithfully
     Archibald Hunter

The headed paper bears the crest of the Naval and Military Club.

Rev. Alfred Ainger (1837-1904) Honorary member 1899

His life & work:

Alfred Ainger was educated at King's College, London, and at the University of Cambridge. After ordination, he became a reader at Temple Church in London in 1864, where he later became preacher. In 1887, he was appointed Canon of Bristol Cathedral, but kept up his connection with Temple Church, and was appointed Master of the Temple in 1894.

In 1895 he was appointed honorary chaplain to Queen Victoria, becoming her chaplain-in-ordinary a year later. He also became chaplain to King Edward VII.

Ainger was a popular lecturer and preacher, and his other main interest was literature. His major work was on the life and works of the essayist Charles Lamb (1775-1834). In 1882, he contributed the volume on Lamb to Macmillan's "English Men of Letters" series. Then, in 1883, he produced his major edition of Lamb's works, 'The Life and Works of Charles Lamb'; a copy of the de-luxe edition of 1899-1900 was recently (California, 1998) valued at $10,000.

Ainger contributed to literary discussions of his day on other writers, including in the 'Spectator' (1884), in the Wordsworth Society's journal 'Wordsworthiana' (1889), and in the journal 'Athenaeum' on a Shakespearian topic (1899). From his letter to Irvine Burns Club, he had clearly also written or spoken on Burns. Macmillan's English Men of Letters series also included Ainger's booklet (1903) on narrative poet George Crabbe (1754-1832), and he wrote the preface for the volume of 'Humorous Poems' by Thomas Hood (1893).

Like Tennyson (hon. member 1863) and others of our honorary members, Ainger was a friend of Irvine-born publisher Macmillan. This connection may explain his nomination by the Club.

His letter, written from the Master's House, Temple, London E.C., on 30th January 1899:


My dear Sir
     I have to acknowledge with sincere thanks, and true gratification, your letter telling me of the honour conferred upon me by the Irvine Burns Club. I am the more pleased I cannot fail to connect their kind action with some recent public utterances of mine upon the great Poet from whom they take their name. It is a rare thing, I fancy, for an Englishman's estimate of Burns to be thought worthy of notice by a body of Scotsmen - Perhaps I may claim to be allowed to sympathise with the admirers of Burns in his own country, because I was taught from my early boyhood to love the beauty and the moral teaching of much of Burns' poetry, when he was in his wise and sound mind. I well remember my father telling me that the finest plea for Christian charity ever uttered was in the words
          "What's done we partly may compute
          But know not what's resisted."

     Your town has been, in its name at least, a household word with me for many years. My old friend Alexander Macmillan, the publisher now gone to his rest, was (I think) a townsman of yours - & also my dear friend, still happily living, Professor Jack of Glasgow.
     With renewed thanks, I remain, dear Sir,
     Yours faithfully & obliged
     Alfred Ainger

The lines quoted are the last two lines of Burns' "Address to the Unco Guid".

The Alexander Macmillan was the London publisher of Ainger's work; being of an Irvine family, Macmillan was granted the freedom of the Burgh of Irvine in 1870.

Lord Balfour of Burleigh (1849-1921) Honorary member 1899

His life & work:

Alexander Hugh Bruce was the 6th Lord Balfour of Burleigh, a title restored for him in 1869 after its forfeiture in 1715 due to the 5th Lord's role in the first Jacobite rebellion. The original family seat was Burleigh Castle, near Kinross, which is now in ruins.

A Conservative politician, he sat in the House of Lords from 1876 to 1921, serving as Secretary of State for Scotland from 1895 to 1903 (serving first under Lord Salisbury, then under A J Balfour), this position being the prompt for his nomination as an Honorary Member.

His letter, written from the office of the Secretary for Scotland, Dover House, Whitehall, on 1st Feby, 1899:


     I have to thank you for your letter of recent date, in which you intimate that the members of the Irvine Burns Club have been good enough to elect me as an Honorary Member of that Club, and I would ask you to convey to the Members my appreciation of the motives which have prompted their action.
     I have read with much interest the list of the Poet's holograph manuscripts which the Club are so fortunate as to have in their possession.
     I am, Sir,
     Very faithfully Yours,
     Balfour of Burleigh

The letter is addressed to James Dickie, Esq., Hon. Secy., Irvine Burns Club.

F C Burnand (1836-1917) Honorary member 1900

His life & work:

Francis Cowley Burnand, later knighted in 1902, had, by 1900, been contributing to 'Punch' magazine for 45 years. He edited the magazine from 1880 to 1906. Burnand was also a prolific dramatist, writing nearly 200 comedies and burlesques. In 1866, he wrote the comic opera 'Cox and Box', collaborating with Arthur Sullivan. Our minutes mention his book "The Real Adventures of Robinson Crusoe", published in 1893 [Burnand's annotated facsimile copy of Defoe's 1719 original was being offered for sale in 2010].

His book 'Quite at Home' (1890) describes his stay at the home of a Mr Allison (of 'Dumdoddie'), somewhere from which he can (just) see Ben Lomond 50 miles away, what he calls Burrrns's Monument, 'about 10 to 15 miles away', Arran, and 'Castles in Ayr'. He attended, and described with much fun, an unveiling ceremony - this would be the August 1879 unveiling, amid huge crowds, of the Burns statue in the Monument in Kay Park, Kilmarnock, by the MP Colonel Charles Alexander of Ballochmyle. His account is typical of his writing, his "good-tempered chaff", and often far-fetched puns. This non-Burns excerpt is typical of his style:

Summary of Journey (which is the only thing Summery about it just now) - "Stands Scotland where it did?" Yes, certainly. Take the Midland Train from St Pancras at 10.30 am and you'll find it, without a change."
First Morning. Lovely. Bracing air. View of islands, mountains, rivers, and Ben Somebody - not Disraeli - in the distance. The 'Ben' something we're looking at in the distance is a Big Ben with a vengeance. . . .
[after a wonderful description of the breakfast possibilities, they walk out:] Have another look at Ben Lomond, or, as he keeps himself at a distance, and I am a stranger, it would be more respectful of me to speak of him as Benjamin Lomond. . . Talk to a Scotch farmer over the hedge. It is one thing to talk to a Scotch farmer over a hedge, and quite another for a Scotch farmer to talk to me. I can't understand a word of what he says to me, except when he says "What for no?" which seems to conclude his argument, whatever it may be, to which I reply politely, by saying, "Yes, quite so," and then I wish him good morning. . . .
[after an extensive lunch, he experiences lawn tennis:] My first uncertainty is whether I shall hit over the net or not. Surprise the first: It is over the net. I feel I have done my duty, and finished for the day. This excitement is not shared by partner, or the opposition firm. Surprise the second: Return of the ball. I hit it wildly. Surprise the third: I have hit it.
[Slightly later, after his partner has done most if not all of the work, the ball comes his way again:] Surprise again: Hit it and up it goes over a tree - miles away, apparently - perhaps to Benjamin Lomond.
[After the tennis:] My partner observes, "We have lost the game. More than that, we have lost the set." Last surprise: The set! We've played a set! Don't like to ask "How many go to a set?" I light a cigar, and join the gallery on the lawn.

Of Arran he writes: "We look at the Isle of Arran when it is visible, and we look for it when it is invisible". Constantly having Ben Lomond pointed out by those he meets, he manages to get revenge - "Next morning I take the initiative - I point out Ben Lomond and Burns' Monument to my host."

His letter, written from Whitefriars, London, E.C., on Feb. 1. 1900:


Dear Sir,
     Pray thank the Committee & Members of the Irvine Burns Club for the honour they have done me.
     I hope that good fortune will bring me to Irvine in the summer time when [I hope] to make personally the acquaintance of my fellow-members honorary & dis-honorary - no that doesn't sound well - honorary and honourable that's better - & to see the works - the good works - you mention as in the Club's possession.
     I remain sincerely
     F C Burnand

F C Burnand's large handwriting style matches the flourish of his wit, and his thoughts seem to have outpaced his words as he sped to the top of the second page.

Marquis of Dufferin and Ava (1826-1902) Honorary member 1900

His life & work:

Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, KP, GCB, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, PC, was one of the most successful diplomats of his time. Following an initial successful posting to Syria from 1860, a spell in the UK Government, serving as third Governor-General of Canada where he and Lady Dufferin were very popular, in 1872-78, the pinnacle of his career was serving as Viceroy of India from 1884. He was careless of money, but charming in the high society of three continents.

His father's family, the Blackwoods, Ulster-Scots, entered the peerage of Ireland in 1800 as Baron Dufferin. Lord Dufferin added the name Hamilton by royal licence in 1862 and the name Temple in 1872. In 1888, he was further ennobled as Marquis/Marquess of Dufferin & Ava, in the County of Down and the Province of Burma, and Earl of Ava, in the Province of Burma. During his time as Viceroy of India, he had, in 1886, annexed Upper Burma.

His fourth son, the third Marquis of Dufferin and Ava (1878-1930), attended the Irvine Burns Club centenary celebration in 1926, replying to the Toast to the Guests.

His time as Viceroy of India featured in the Rudyard Kipling poem 'One Viceroy Resigns', which was written from Dufferin's point of view, giving advice to his successor, Lord Lansdowne. His wife Lady Dufferin, Vicereine of India, accompanied her husband on his travels in India and made her own name as a pioneer in the medical training of women in India. Her extensive travel writings and photographs, in addition to her medical work, challenge some traditional assumptions about the role of women in colonial life.

His letter, written from Clandeboye, Co. Down, on January 31, 1900: Notes:

     I hasten to acknowledge the receipt of your kind communication of the 27th of January, and I can assure you that I feel greatly honoured by the members of the Irvine Burns Club having elected me an Honorary Member. I am sure there is no one amongst them who can be a warmer admirer of Burns than myself, and the Club is indeed to be congratulated on possessing such priceless treasures as the manuscripts of the poet which you commemorate.
     I have the honour to be, Sir,
     Your obedient Servant
     Dufferin and Ava

The letter, on his crested notepaper, is hand-written.

Today's Clandeboye Golf Club has two courses, named Dufferin and Ava!

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) Honorary member 1900

His life & work:

Kipling had published "The Jungle Book" in 1894 and "The Second Jungle Book" in 1895. By 1900, aged 34, he had travelled the world and was a famous and popular author. His "Just So Stories" appeared later, in 1902.

Keenly aware of trends in politics, when the Nazis usurped the Indian swastika, a good luck symbol, which was printed on the covers of many of his older editions, he ordered it should no longer adorn his books - in 1935 he spoke ("An undefended Island") warning of the danger posed by Nazi Germany.

Born in Bombay, sent to England when five for his education, returning to India at sixteen, he had travelled extensively in the USA, Canada, and South Africa by the time he married in London in 1891. They settled in Vermont, moved to Devon in 1896, and to Rottingdean in 1897. From 1898 to 1908 they travelled to South Africa for a winter holiday each year, always staying in a house on the estate of Cecil Rhodes at Groote Schuur. The invitation from Irvine therefore arrived too late for Kipling to reply himself, and no later letter is known.

His letter, written from The Elms, Rottingdean, nr. Brighton, on Feb. 6: 00:


Dear Sir,
     Mr Rudyard Kipling, as you perhaps know, had sailed for S. Africa before your letter came, announcing that the Irvine Burns Club had elected him as an Hon. Member, but I shall let him know the contents of your letter by next mail.
     I am Sir
     Faithfully yours
     S. Anderson

The letter is to J A S Dickie, Esq., the Club's Hon. Secy at the time.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) Honorary member 1900

His life & work:

Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was born in Edinburgh (at 11 Picardy Place), and studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh from 1876 to 1881. "A Study in Scarlet", his first significant work, appeared in 1886. He was a keen footballer and cricketer.

He was knighted in 1902, possibly in recognition of his pamphlet justifying the UK's role in the Boer War.

Conan Doyle bought land in Hindhead, the address on the letter, after discovering that his wife Louisa had tuberculosis and was likely to live for only a few months more. He hoped that the fresh Surrey air would stimulate a recovery (one of his friends claimed that the Hindhead air had cured him of tuberculosis) and, in conjunction with the architect Joseph Henry Bell, he designed a family home with huge windows to let in maximum sunlight. His hopes were at least partly realised, as Louisa survived for another nine years, till 1906 (aged 49). Conan Doyle is believed to have written 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' at this address, in 1901/02. He regularly rose at 6 am, wrote till lunchtime, then asked his family for criticism. Afterwards Conan Doyle re-married and moved away. Later, in 1935, Undershaw became a hotel and a magnet to fans of his writing. In 2004, it was bought by a developer, and its condition has deteriorated. The Undershaw Preservation Trust campaigns to see the house preserved as a single building rather than see it split into several private homes. Conan Doyle played host here to prominent guests such as J M Barrie and Bram Stoker.

The online Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia is collecting all the author's letters and much else, and Irvine Burns Club has contributed a scan of his acceptance letter (these links will open in a new tab).

His letter, written from Undershaw, Hindhead, Haslemere, Surrey, on Feb. 3. 1900:


Dear Sir,
     I have the greatest pleasure in acknowledging & accepting the honour done me by the Irvine Burns Club of which I shall be proud to call myself Honorary Member.
     Pray convey my thanks to the members
     & believe me
     yours faithfully
     A. Conan Doyle

His headed writing paper includes, as often in those days, the address for telegrams, in his case Grayshott. An email address would be today's equivalent.

Another 1900 nominee, who presumably did not reply to accept, was the Duke of Argyll.

John Tenniel (1820-1914) Honorary member 1901

His life & work:

This British illustrator, graphic humourist and political cartoonist, was the chief cartoon artist for 'Punch' magazine, the staff of which he joined in 1850, selected on the strength of his recent illustrations to Aesop's Fables. Aged twenty, one eye was damaged in a fencing bout, and he gradually lost his sight in that eye.

Over the years, he executed 2,165 separate cartoons for 'Punch'. However, much of his fame came from his work as the illustrator of 'Alice', for which two books, published in 1865 and 1871, he provided 92 drawings The first print run was shelved because Tenniel objected to the print quality, so was later sold in America, and the first British edition was dated 1866. Tenniel did virtually no such literary illustrations afterwards.

The year 1901 was the year of his retirement from 'Punch', at a farewell banquet in Jan. 1901 presided over by A J Balfour (an Honorary Member of 1890), then Leader of the House of Commons. The approach from Irvine may have resulted from this, or from his popularity expressed in public exhibitions of his work in 1895 and 1900.

His letter, written from 10 Portsdown Road, Maida Hill, W., on Nov. 3. 1901:


     I am indeed proud in accepting the “Honorary Membership” of the Club, so kindly conferred on me, and with the best of thanks, and the fullest appreciation of the courteous and – I fear – all too flattering terms in which the announcement has been made known to me. I have the honour to be, gentlemen,
     Very faithfully yours
     John Tenniel


7th Earl of Hopetoun (1860-1908) Honorary member 1901

His life & work:

Born at South Queensferry, and educated at Eton and Sandhurst, the 7th Earl (he succeeded to that title in 1873, aged 13 initially devoted his attentions to managing the more than seventeen thousand hectares of family estate located around the Firth of Forth. In 1889 he served as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

After serving as Governor of Victoria from 1889 to 1895, he served as the first Governor-General of Australia 1901-1903, being the youngest person to have held that office.

He was appointed Marquess of Linlithgow in 1902. His later career included Secretary for Scotland in 1905 under Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, but poor health led to his early death in 1908.

His letter, written from his office as Commonwealth of Australia, Governor-General, Melbourne, on 4th December 1901:


My dear Sir,
     I beg you will convey to the members of the Irvine Burns Club my high sense of the honour which they have conferred upon me in unanimously electing me as one of their Honorary Members. I need hardly assure you that I accept the compliment paid towards me with the utmost pleasure and satisfaction.
     Yours very faithfully,

The letter is, with the exception of the signature, typed.

It is addressed to James Dickie, Esq., Hon. Secretary

Lord Alfred Milner (1854-1925) Honorary member 1902

His life & work:

A British statesman and colonial administrator who played an influential leadership role in the formulation of foreign and domestic policy between the mid-1890s and early 1920s, Lord Milner was also the key British Empire figure in the events leading up to and following the Anglo-Boer War of 1899–1902. He became Baron Milner in 1901. Plunging into the herculean task of remodelling the administration, in the negotiations for peace he was associated with Lord Kitchener, and the terms of surrender, signed in Pretoria on 31 May 1902, were drafted by him.

From 1897, he was High Commissioner for Southern Africa and Governor of Cape Colony. After the Boer War, he became the first Governor of the Transvaal and Orange River Colony and continued as High Commissioner. In July 1902, in recognition of his services he was made Viscount Milner, of Saint James's in the County of London and of Cape Town in the Cape Colony. The invitation from Irvine would have been made before his Viscountcy, and his acceptance written after it.

His letter, written from the High Commissioner’s Office, Johannesburg, on 20 November, 1902:


Dear Sir
     His Excellency is much gratified at the honour accorded to him conveyed in your letter of the 18th October which informed him that the Irvine Burns Club have elected him as an honorary member.
     He very much appreciates the compliment paid to him
     Yours faithfully
     <signature unclear>
     Private Secretary
     <counter-signed> Milner

The letter is, with the exception of the signatures, typed.

The paper is embossed with a crest.

It is addressed to Jas. Dickie, Esq., Honorary Secretary.

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) Honorary member 1904

His life & work:

Born in Dunfermline, the Carnegie family emigrated to the States in 1848, when Andrew was twelve. He made his fortune there in steel. In the late 1880s, Carnegie Steel was the largest manufacturer of pig iron, steel rails, and coke in the world, with a capacity to produce approximately 2,000 tons of pig metal per day. In 1901, when aged 66, he sold his business to the United States Steel Corporation.

Carnegie's early philanthropy included swimming baths (1879) and a free library (1880) for his home town of Dunfermline. In 1886, he published "Triumphant Democracy" in support of the American republican system of government. In 1889, he published an article titled "Wealth" in which he argued that the life of a wealthy industrialist should comprise two parts. The first part was the gathering and the accumulation of wealth. The second part was for the subsequent distribution of this wealth to benevolent causes. The philanthropy was key to making the life worthwhile.

Carnegie funded some 3,000 libraries and many university projects, including, in 1899, making a donation to help set up the University of Birmingham in the UK. In 1901, he gave $10 million to establish the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. This, and his sharing of time between homes in New York and in Scotland at Skibo Castle, will probably be the prompts for the approach from Irvine Burns Club.

The letter written on his behalf from Skibo Castle, Dornoch, Sutherland, on May 24th, 1904:


Dear Sir,
     Mr Carnegie tenders his thanks for your letter of 22nd March just received and greatly appreciates the valued compliment of the Irvine Burns Club in electing him an Honorary Member.
     Respectfully yours,
     <signature unclear>
     P. Secretary.

The letter is, with the exception of the secretary's signature, typed.

It is addressed to J. H. Dickie, Esq., Hon. Secy.

Skibo Castle was bought in 1898 for £85,000 by Carnegie, who spent a further £2 million on improvements. It stayed in the Carnegie family until 1982.

Henry Campbell-Bannerman (1836-1908) Honorary member 1906

His life & work:

Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Leader of the Liberal Party from 1899 to 1908, was Prime Minister from 1905-1908, at the time of the approach from Irvine Burns Club. His reply, unlike that of later PMs, was from his home. He was the first Lord of the Treasury to be officially titled Prime Minister. His 1906 election victory was the last occasion on which the Liberals gained an overall majority in the House of Commons.

Born and educated in Glasgow, after a second degree at Cambridge, he returned to Glasgow to work in the family drapery business. In 1868, he was elected as MP for Stirling Burghs, which he represented for almost forty years. Resigning as PM in 1908 due to ill health, he died nineteen days later.

His letter, written from Belmont Castle, Meigle, Scotland, on 19 Jany 07:


Dear Sir,
     I am much obliged to the Irvine Burns Club for the compliment they have paid me in electing me an Hony Member. Such Clubs do much to keep alive Scottish national spirit, and I am pleased to have this honour from a town so identified with the life & memory of our great poet.
     Yours very truly
     H. Campbell-Bannerman

Belmont Castle, once the home of Campbell-Bannerman, then of Sir James Caird, the jute baron, has been a Church of Scotland residential and care home since 1931.

Although nominated in 1906, his letter is of 1907.

James Bryce (1838-1922) Honorary member 1907

His life & work:

A British academic, jurist, historian and Liberal politician, he served under Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman as Chief Secretary for Ireland, from where his acceptance letter was written. Part of his education was in Glasgow (High School and University). After a term as MP for Tower Hamlets, he served as the MP for South Aberdeen from 1885 to 1907.

At the time of the Boer War, he had been one of the harshest critics of British repressive policy against Boer civilians in the South African partisan War. Taking the risk of being very unpopular for a certain moment, he condemned the systematic burning of farms and the imprisonment of old people, women and children in British concentration camps.

After serving as Ambassador to the United States of America from 1907 to 1913, he was ennobled in 1914 as Viscount Bryce.

His letter, written from the Chief Secretary's Ofice, Dublin Castle, on Jan 25th 1907:


My dear Sir,
     I am deeply sensible of the honour which the Irvine Burns Club do me by electing me to be one of their Honorary Members, and I thank them sincerely for their kindness in doing so. I am, like all lovers of poetry, and as every West of Scotland man in particular ought to be, an ardent admirer of our national poet, a poet who is in a degree perhaps without any parallel, not only the national but the popular poet of his country. It is by him and by Walter Scott, more than by any other achievements Scotland can boast, that one finds Scotland known, and the name of Scotland famous, all over the world. Believe me, with renewed thanks,
     Very faithfully yours,
     James Bryce

The address is embossed, so does not appear on photocopies.

Lord George Young (1819-1907) Honorary member 1907

His life & work:

George Young (2 July 1819 – 21 May 1907) was a Scottish Liberal MP in the British Parliament and a Judge, with the judicial title of Lord Young.

He was born at Dumfries and educated at the University of Edinburgh. He became a member of the Faculty of Advocates in 1840 and was also called to the English bar. He held the judicial offices of Sheriff of Inverness-shire 1853-1860 and of Haddington and Berwick 1860-1862.

He was appointed Solicitor General for Scotland 1862-1866 and 1868-1869. He then became Lord Advocate. He represented Wigtown Burghs 1865-1874, until he lost an election. After an election petition, that election was declared void and the seat awarded to Young on 28 May 1874. However, in June 1874, he was appointed a Judge of the Court of Session and left Parliament.

He died four months after accepting Honorary Membership.

His letter, written from 28 Moray Place, Edinburgh, on Jany 28th 1907:


Dear Mr Norval Murray
     Your very kind letter reached me on Saturday, but I will not weary you by mentioning & explaining what delayed the acknowledgement till today.
     I feel greatly honoured by the resolution of the Members of the Irvine Burns’ Club to admit me a Member of the Club & accept the position with gratitude & sincere appreciation of the honour.
     Believe me to be
     Your faithful humble servant
     G Young

Mr Norval Murray was Hon. Secy of the Club at the time.

Lord Loreburn (1846-1923) Honorary member 1907

His life & work:

Robert Threshie Reid, 1st Earl Loreburn GCMG, PC, QC was a British lawyer, judge and Liberal politician. He became MP for Dumfries Burghs in 1886, representing the seat till 1905. In 1905, he was appointed as Lord Chancellor, under Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, and ennobled as Baron Loreburn, serving as Lord Chancellor until 1912.

He was created an Earl in 1911.

His letter, written from House of Lords, S.W., on 17 December 1907:


Dear Sir
     I regret very much that Mr Murray’s letter of 25 January 1907 should have remained unanswered. I was ill at that time which may be the cause.
     In any case I am much obliged by my admission as an honorary member of Irvine Burns Club & beg to thank the Club for the compliment.
     Yours faithfully

The headed paper is embossed with the crest of the Lord Chancellor.

return to top

you can move to the next page of honorary
members without closing this window,
by clicking next honorary page