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Kay's Edinburgh Portraits
Sir William Honyman, Bart., of Armadale


William Honyman, eldest son of Patrick Honyman of Graemsay, by Margaret, daughter and heiress of M'Kay of Strathy, was born in December, 1756. He was the fourth in descent from Andrew Honyman, Bishop of Orkney, the founder of the family; who, on the streets of Edinburgh, July, 1668, was wounded in the arm by a poisoned bullet, intended for Archbishop Sharpe, of St. Andrews, whose coach he was in the act of stepping into at the moment.

Mr. Honyman was admitted to the bar in 1777, and appointed Sheriff-depute of Lanarkshire in 1786, in the room of Mr. Bobert Sinclair, who resigned. On the death of Lord Dreghorn, in 1797, he was promoted to the bench, and assumed the title of Lord Armadale— from a landed property he inherited by his mother, in the county of Sutherland. In 1799, on the promotion of Lord Eskgrove, he was named one of the Lords of Justiciary; and, in 1804, had the honour of a baronetcy conferred on him.

Sir Willam Honyman, both as a lawyer and a judge, displayed very considerable talents, as well as sound judgment. A specimen of his judicial argument is to be found in the Appendix to Hutcheson's "Treatise on the Offices of a Justice of the Peace," &c, in the case of "His Majesty's Advocate, v. James Taylor, and other Journeymen Paper-makers," decided in 1808. These persons had combined to procure a rise of wages, and were indicted to stand trial before the High Court of Justiciary. On the relevancy of the indictment, the bencli divided. Lords Craig, Cullen, and Hermand argued against, and Lords Armadale, Meadowbank, and the Lord Justice-Clerk for the relevancy; but, as the latter has only a casting vote, the libel was found "not relevant"—and the parties were dismissed.

On resigning his offices in the Courts of Session and Justiciary in 1811, Lord Armadale retired to Smyllum Park, his residence in Lanarkshire, where he died on the 5th June, 1825. He married Mary, eldest daughter of the Lord Justice-Clerk, M'Queen of Braxfield, by whom he had a numerous family. His two eldest sons, Patrick and Robert, entered the army. The former served in the 28th Light Dragoons ; and the latter, who died in Jamaica, on the 20th November, 1809—deeply regretted as an officer of much gallantry and the highest promise—was Lieut.-Colonel of the 18th regiment of foot. The following notice of his demise appeared in the journals :—

"In Jamaica, Lieut-Colonel Robert Honyman, second son of Lord Armadale. He served as a volunteer during the campaign in Egypt, where he was honoured with the approbation of Sir Ralph Abercromby, and acquired the esteem and friendship of Sir John Moore, Generals Hope, Spencer, and other distinguished officers. At the attack on the Dutch lines, at the capture of the Cape of Good Hope, he, under Sir David Baird, led on the 93rd regiment, of which he was Major, and was severely wounded. As Lieut.-Colonel of the 18th foot, lie lately received the thanks of the Commander-in-Chief of the Island of Jamaica, for his active services in suppressing a mutiny of the black troops in that Island, where he has since fallen a victim to the fever of the country, at the age of twenty-seven."


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