Alexander Ewing

3 January 1830–11 July 1895

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Ewing, staff paymaster, died at Taunton on the 11th [of July, 1895]. He was the only son of Alexander Ewing, M.D., of Tertowie and Aberdeen. He was born in 1830. After studying at Heidelberg, where he devoted himself chiefly to music and the German language, he decided to join the Commissariat Department on the outbreak of the Crimean War, and was sent out to Constantinople. Here his abilities as a linguist rendered his services very useful. Bishop Alexander Ewing, of Argyle and the Isles, was his father’s cousin, and assisted his relative on Dr. Ewing’s death. It may be interesting to some readers to mention the fact that during Alexander Ewing’s absence abroad the Bishop sent his cousin’s well-known setting of the hymn “Jerusalem the golden” to the editors of Hymns Ancient and Modern, and, owing to the cousin’s bearing the same Christian name, the Bishop was commonly credited with having composed the tune.

He next served during the campaign in the north of China, 1860, and received the China medal. He also served in the operations against the Taeping rebels near Shanghai in 1862, and was present at the taking of the stockade of Nahzain. Here he met, and gained the friendship of, General Gordon. In 1866 he returned to England, and in the following year married Miss Gatty, daughter of Mrs. Alfred Gatty, who had just started Aunt Judy’s Magazine, to which publication Ewing contributed several articles. In 1867 he served under Sir Alfred Horsford in Ireland during the Fenian disturbances. In the same year he sailed for Fredericton, New Brunswick. The varied incidents of military life which Mrs. Ewing shared with her husband resulted in her production of “The Story of a Short Life,” “Joe Ranapes,” “Lob-lie-by-the-Fire,” and other soldier stories. In 1870 he left the Commissariat for the Army Pay Department. In 1879, on taking the honorary rank of major, he went for his last term of foreign service, first to Malta, and then to Ceylon. Major Ewing was appointed to the regimental district at Taunton in 1883, and remained there till his retirement six years later with the honorary rank of lieutenant colonel.

After the death of his first wife he married Elizabeth Margaret, the second daughter of the Rev. Anthony Cumby, late rector of Scorton, Yorkshire, who survives him. He has left lasting proof behind of his gift for languages in his brilliant translations of Jean Paul Richter’s “Flowers, Fruit, and Thorn Pieces,” and of Hoffman’s “Serapion Brethren.”

Aberdeen Daily Free Press, 17 July 1895

Featured Tunes:



“Music by Lieut-Col Alexander Ewing” (MSS.1785-1786), National Library of Scotland Archives:

Related Resources:

“The Late Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Ewing,” Aberdeen Daily Free Press, 17 July 1895.

“The Late Colonel Ewing: Some Personal Reminiscences,” Aberdeen Daily Free Press, 20 July 1895.

James Love, “Alexander Ewing,” Scottish Church Music (Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1891), pp. 121-122:

Willam Cowan & James Love, “Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Ewing,” The Music of the Church Hymnary and the Psalter in Metre (Edinburgh: Henry Frowde, 1901), pp. 56-57, 209:

J.R. Watson, “Alexander Ewing,” Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology:

Jean Mary Allan, “Alexander Ewing,” Grove Music Online:

Alexander Ewing,