Richard Honyman

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Sir Richard Bempdé Johnstone Honyman, 2nd Baronet (b. 4 May 1787, Orkney, d. 23 February 1842, Edinburgh) was a Scottish official of the British East India Company who served for six years in the House of Commons as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Orkney and Shetland.


Honyman was the second son of Sir William Honyman, 1st Baronet, SCJ (Lord Armadale), of Armadale in Sutherland and Graemsay in Orkney. His mother Mary was a daughter of the notorious judge Lord Braxfield. The family claimed maternal descent from Sir Robert Stewart, an illegitimate son of King James V of Scotland.

He was educated in England at Eton, and in 1806 he joined the British East India Company as a writer (junior clerk). After several promotions he became deputy commercial resident in Ramnad in 1809, and returned to Britain in 1811. He finally left the East India Company in 1816.


Honyman's father Sir William had large landholdings in Orkney, where he had exerted significant influence on the parliamentary representation since the 1780s. Sir William's brother Robert Honyman (c. 1765–1848) had been returned as Orkney's MP from 1796 to 1806, when he was succeeded by Sir William's oldest son Colonel Robert Honyman until 1807. The Colonel had died of fever in Jamaica in 1808, and when Sir William's negotiations secured the seat for his family again at the 1812 general election, Richard Honyman enjoyed the support of the outgoing Whig MP Malcolm Laing. Honyman won eight of the twelve votes cast.

He is not known to have spoken in Parliament, and was not a frequent attender in the Commons. He initially voted with the Whigs, but by 1813 Sir William was reported to have settled his differences with Henry Dundas's son Robert Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville who was by then First Lord of the Admiralty in the government of Lord Liverpool. Thereafter Richard voted with the Tories, and at the 1818 general election he was defeated by 12 votes to 19 by the Whig candidate Royal Navy Captain George Dundas. The Balfour, Baikie and Traill families of Orkney had agreed to end the three-decade Honyman hegemony. They allyied themselves with the Dundas of Kerse (descendants of Thomas Dundas of Fingask, unrelated to the Lords Melville) who the Honymans had displaced in the 1780s.

The alliance faltered at the 1820 election, when objections were raised to the age of the 70-year-old Whig candidate John Balfour, and to the lack of consulation before his nomination. Honyman was nominated again, by Alexander Henderson of Stempster and seconded by Gilbert Traill; but Balfour won the seat by 19 votes to Honyman's 14.[6]

Sir William Honyman died on 5 January 1825. Due to the death of Colonel Robert, Richard's elder brother, in 1808, Richard was thereby the oldest surviving son, and succeeded to his father's baronetcy and estates.


Honyman married Elizabeth Campbell, with whom he had one daughter.

He died on 23 February 1842, and having no male heir the baronetcy passed to his father's second surviving son Ord (1794–1863).

Richard Honyman is buried against the eastern outer wall of the southern section of St Cuthbert's churchyard in Edinburgh. The marble monument is eroded and its legibility is fading.

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Malcolm Laing
Member of Parliament for
Orkney and Shetland

Succeeded by
George Dundas
Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom
MPs Robert Honyman (1801-1806) • Robert Honyman (1806-1807) • Malcolm Laing (1807-1812) • Richard Honyman (1812-1818) • George Dundas (1818-1820) • John Balfour (1820-1826) • George Dundas (1826-1830) • George Traill (1830-1835) • Thomas Balfour (1835-1837) • Frederick Dundas (1837-1847) • Arthur Anderson (1847-1852) • Frederick Dundas (1852-1873) • Samuel Laing (1873-1885) • Leonard Lyell (1885-1900) • Cathcart Wason (1900-1921) • Malcolm Smith (1921-1922) • Robert Hamilton (1922-1935) • Basil Neven-Spence (1935-1950) • Jo Grimond (1950-1983) • Jim Wallace (1983-2001) • Alistair Carmichael (2001-present)