The Titanic violin
An original, signed Andrew Hume violin
What violin or violins did jock take with him on the Titanic? His father, Andrew Hume, claimed that Jock took TWO valuable violins with him when he boarded the ship at Southampton. He said they were violins he had lent his son so that during the voyage he could choose one as 'a life instrument'.
One, he said, had been made by the great 18th Century Italian violin maker Giovanni Guadagnini; the other by Guadagnini's rival in Naples, Thomaso Eberle. Today, these violins would sell for more than £500,000 at auction.

The value Andrew Hume placed on these violins when he made a claim for compensation from the White Star Line was £325 - £25 more than the amount he claimed for the loss of his son's life. But is it likely that a music teacher in Dumfries would own two such valuable instruments and entrust them to his 21-year-old son – at a time he was having serious disagreements about the young man's love life?

Most unlikely, not least because Andrew Hume's main claim to fame was that he himself was a fine maker of violins and that his modern violins sounded better than the antique Italian ones. The White Star Line dismissed Andrew Hume's claim. So it is almost certain that Jock's violin - which was never recovered from the wreck - was an instrument made by his father.

I recently bought from a collector a fine violin made by Andrew Hume, dated 1913, which may have been intended for his son had Jock lived to play it. I had another Hume violin that I have given to Jock's great grandchildren in Jamaica, Gabriella, Vanya and William.

Some of you may have heard the talented Orkney violinist, Catriona Price, playing my Andrew Hume violin at the Edinburgh Book Festival and the Borders Book Festival. Catriona played Scottish jigs as the audience arrived and settled in their seats, ending the evening with a moving rendering of Nearer My God To Thee. To hear her play it, click here.

Catriona has gone on to enjoy huge success with her group, Twelfth Day, (

For the avoidance of doubt, it was NOT Jock's violin that was sold at auction recently for more than £1million. It was the bandmaster Wallace Hartley's violin. But how could it have survived ten days in the North Atlantic without falling apart or being recorded?

That was the question I was asked on the day of the auction by a young woman TV news reporter who came to my home.

'I've no idea', I replied. 'But I tell you what: let's take one of my great grandfather's violins upstairs, run a bath, put the violin in the bath then see what it looks like in ten minutes' time.'

She sensibly declined my offer. The interview was never broadcast and when I rang her next day to ask why it had been canned, she replied, 'Because they thought it spoiled a good story.'
Read serialisations of this incredible story in the following publications:
Mail Online
The Gleaner
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'A heartbreaking story wonderfully told' Julian Fellowes,
creator of Downton Abbey
And the Band Played On
Buy now on Amazon
And the Band Played On
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