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Man risks his life to save five others from wrecked ship

Year 1800

Read by Rupert Novis – Trustee, Royal Humane Society

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The Premium Debiti Meriti, alike conspicuous and beneficial, is honourable to the immediate parties, and in the effect of example upon the many whom it incites to the welfare of the state. Upon those cogent principles, and admiring the preeminent services of Mr. Honey, the Medallion of the H.S. has been presented, as a permanent memorial that he has rendered important benefits to his fellow-creatures and to his country.

“When furious tempests raise the dashing wave, All ye who harbour safely on the land, Remember those who now the Tempest brave, And lend! O lend! The friendly helping hand.”

Mr. John Honey, Student in Divinity. Singular Instance of Intrepidity.

The Janet of Macduff was driven on the sands of St. Andrew’s. The crew, although every possible attempt had been made by the Magistrates and Inhabitants to save them, must inevitably have perished, had it not been for determined and active exertions of Mr. John Honey, who, unintimidated by seeing several men almost drowned in the attempt, went into the sea, and at the imminent hazard of his life, brought the crew into safety to the shore. The Janet a total wreck, and none of the cargo saved it is with pleasure we add that the Magistrates of St. Andrew’s, at an elegant supper given by them to Mr. Honey, presented him with an hereditary burgess and Guild Ticket, to which the following address was annexed:

Address to Mr. Honey.
“This Hereditary Ticket I have the honour of presenting to you, in the absence of the Right Hon. The Earl of Kellie, Lord Provost of this city, which is the only gift that this corporation can bestow for your wonderful and unexampled exertions in rescuing from the jaws of death the Master and four seamen of the sloop the Janet of Macduff, wrecked in the East Sands of St. Andrew’s, and who, but for your humane and unparalleled exertions at the imminent hazard of your own life, must have inevitably perished.”
(Signed) Cathcart Demster, Dean of Guild

Lord Kellie to Robert Cowie, Esq.

My Dear Sir,
Permit me to refer you to the Edinburgh Mercury of 10th Inft. Where you will find an important paragraph from the town of St. Andrew’s, mentioning the great exertions of Mr. John Honey, in saving the lives of the Master and Crew of a Sloop wrecked there in the dreadful storm of the 2d and 3d instant.

The real fact is, that this crew was considered by a great number on the beach as lost without any possibility of saving them, when this young man, at the utmost hazard of his life, dashed into the waves, and after very surprising exertions, brought the crew on shore one by one, five in number. After risking his won life, he was so exhausted with fatigue, that he was obliged to carry the man before him in the seam. What I now have to request to you, my dear friend is, that you will be so good as to have this matter represented to the Humane Society, and get them to make some honorary mention of Mr. Honey, which at a future period may be of service to him, as he is intended for the Church. You sincere friend, Kellie.

Dr. Hawes, before Lord Kellie’s Letter arrived, had proposed to the Managers, that Mr. Honey has justly merited the highest honour that the R.H.S. could possibly confer. The honorary medallion was unanimously voted, as a permanent memorial of Mr. Honey’s philanthropy. It affords the Doctor great pleasure to add, that some London Merchants have likewise subscribed in order to present Mr. Honey with a Silver Cup, on which his glorious conduct will be inscribed.

To Dr. Hawes
St. Mary’s College, Jan. 30, 1800.


I BEG to leave to return my acknowledgements for the honour which the Humane Society has thought proper to confer upon me. The pleasure of contributing to the safety of useful lives I should always have considered as a sufficient reward for any exertion in my power. The attention with which Societies and Individuals are pleased to honour me had been truly gratifying. The kindness of the H.S. on this occasion has been so much greater than I had any reason to expect, that I feel myself unable to express the high sense which I entertain of their favour. Yours, &c.
John Honey.

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