Born in 1839 at Chacewater Honey, dubbed Gran Bretaña by President Porfirio Díaz, migrated to Mexico in 1862. Fondly remembered in Mexico as a type of New World Robert Owen, Honey was imbued with a strong respect for man’s dignity treating all employees in his foundries, mines, businesses and haciendas with unfailing courtesy, arranging better pay and working hours and observing national fiestas. The humblest peon was assured of a decent burial and his dependants were well provided for. He spoke Spanish and Otomi fluently.
Not long after his arrival in Mexico he founded La Encarnación iron foundry at Ixmiquilpan and eventually proceeded to the presidencies of three banks and two mining concerns. His successful business empire included various agricultural properties at Iximiquilpan on which he cultivated alfalfa, specially grown from imported seed, as well as fine grapes, whose seeds he gave to neighbouring rancheros for further propagation. He also imported thoroughbred horses from England, France, Jamaica and the United States, the first purebred colt born in Mexico named Anahuac by President Porfirio Díaz.
Honey built the first iron bridge over the Tula River at Taxquillo to enable his mules to convey iron ore from his Zimapan mines to Pachuca for smelting. The Pachuca, Zacualtipan and Tampico Railroad, otherwise known as the Honey Railway, was partially constructed by the Cornish entrepreneur. Standard gauge and built to facilitate the transport of produce from his many enterprises, the line was sold in 1901 to the Stilwell interests although Richard Honey remained as Chairman and Thomas Phillips Honey as Manager. A station along this line still bore the name ‘Honey’ in the 1970s.
Not content to confine his business interests to mining and related industries, Honey and his son diversified into commerce purchasing shares in the International and Mortgage Bank, founded in 1882. In 1905 they assumed control building a crumbling concern into a thriving and prosperous enterprise that became a valuable factor in Mexico’s economic progress. The bank’s credit was second to none in the Republic, its mortgage bonds considered gilt-edged investments in Mexico – the only Mexican banking paper quoted on the London Stock Exchange. Mortgage loans amounting to some 40 million dollars were made at low rates of interest to agriculture, industry and construction enterprises, including dam building. This prosperous bank that rendered a vast public service was forced into ruin by the acts of successive governments in the revolutionary years following the Porfiriate period.
Honey maintained close contact with Cornwall, returning to live at Rose Hill Gwennap in 1881, and sent his sons to be educated at Trevarth House Grammar School. He died in Mexico in 1913.