Make your own free website on

History of Hamilton from:



HAMILTON, the name of a famous Scottish family. Chief among the legends still clinging to this important family is that which gives a descent from the house of Beaumont, a branch of which is stated to have held the manor of Hamilton ill Leicestershire; and it is argued that the three cinquefoils of the Hamilton shield bear some resemblance to the single cinquefoils of the Beaumonts. In face of this it has been recently shown that the single cinquefoil was also borne by the Umfravilles of Northumberland, who appear to have owned a place called Hamilton in that county. It May be pointed out that Simon do. Montfort, the great earl of Leicester, in whose veins flowed the blood of the Beaumonts, obtained about 1245 the wardship of Gilbert de Umfraville, second earl of Angus, and it is conceivable that this name Gilbert may somehow be responsible for the legend of the Beaumont descent seeing 'that the first, authentic ancestor of the Hamilton-, is one Walter FitzGilbert. He first appears in 1294-1295 as one of the witnesses to a charter by James, the high steward of Scotland, to the monks of Paisley; and in 1296 his name appears in the Homage Roll as Walter FitzGilbert of "Hameldone." Who this Gilbert of "Hameldone" may have been is uncertain, "but the fact must be faced," Mr. John Anderson points out (Scots Peerage, iv. 340)" that in a charter of the 12th of December 1272 by Thomas of Cragyn or Craigie to the monks of Paisley of his church of Craigie in Kyle, there appears as witness a certain 'Gilbert (de Hameldun clericus', whose name occurs along with the local clergy of Inverkip, Blackhall, Paisley and Dunoon. He was therefore probably also a cleric of the same neighbourhood, and it is significant that 'Walter FitzGilbert' appears first ill that district in 1294 and in 1296 is described as son of Gilbert de Hameldone. Walter FitzGilbert took some part in the affairs of his time. At first he joined the English party but after Bannockburn went over to Bruce, was knighted and subsequently received the barony of Cadzow. His younger son John was father of Alexander Hamilton who acquired the lands of Innerwick by marriage, and from him descended a certain Thomas Hamilton, who acquired the lands of Priestfield early in the 16th century. Another Thomas grandson of this last, who had with others of his house followed Queen Mary and with them had been restored to royal favour, became a lord of session as Lord Priestfield. Two of his younger sons enjoyed also this legal distinction, while the eldest Thomas, was made an ordinary lord of session as early as 1592 and was eventually created earl of Haddington (q.v.) It is interesting to note that the 5th earl of Haddington by his marriage with Lady Margaret Leslie brought for a time the earldom of Rothes to the, Hamiltons to be added to their already numerous titles.

Sir "David FitzWalter FitzGilbert," who carried on the main line of the Hamiltons, was taken prisoner at the battle of Neville's Cross (1346) and treated as of great importance, being ransomed, it is stated, for a large sum of money; in 1371 and 1373 he was one of barons in the parliament. of the four sons attributed to him David succeeded in the representation of the family, Sir John Hamilton of Fingaltoun was ancestor of the Hamiltons of and Walter is stated to have been progenitor of the Hamiltons of Cambuskeith and Sanquhar in Ayrshire.

David Hamilton, the first apparently to describe himself as lord of Cadzow, died before 1302, Ieaving four or five sons, from whom descended the Hamiltons of Bathgate and of Bardowie, and perhaps, also of Udstown, to which last belong the lords Belhaven.

Sir John Hamilton of Cadzow, the eldest son, was twice a prisoner in England, but beyond this little is known of him; even the date of his death is uncertain. His two younger sons are stated to have been founders of the houses of Dalserf and Raploch. His eldest son, James Hamilton of Cadzow, like his father and great-grandfather, visited England as a prisoner, being one of the hostages for the king's ransom. From him the Hamiltons of Silvertonhill and the lords Hamilton of Dalzell claim descent, among the more distinguished members of the former branch being General Sir Ian Hamilton, K.C.B. James Hamilton was succeeded by his eldest son Sir James Hamilton of Cadzow, who was created an 1445 an hereditary lord of parliament, and was thereafter known as Lord Hamilton. He had allied himself some years before with the great house of Douglas by marriage with Euphemia, widow of the 5th earl of Douglas, and was at first one of its most powerful supporters in the struggle with James II. Later, however, he obtained the royal favour and married about 1474 Mary, sister of James III, and widow of Thomas Boyd, earl of Arran. of this marriage was born James, second Lord Hamilton, who as a near relative took an active part in the arrangements at the marriage of James IV, with Margaret Tudor; being rewarded on the same day (the 8th of August 1503) with the earldom of Arran. A champion in the lists he was scarcely so successful as a leader of men, his struggle with the Douglases being destitute of any great martial achievement. of his many illegitimate children Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, beheaded in 1540, was ancestor of the Hamiltons of Gilkerseleugh; and John, archbishop of St. Andrews, hanged by his Protestant enemies, was ancestor of the Hamiltons of Blair, and is said also to have been ancestor of Hamilton of London, baronet. James, second earl of Arran, son of the first earl by his second wife Janet Beaton, was chosen governor to- the little Queen Mary, being nearest of kin to the throne through his grandmother, though the question of the validity of his mother's marriage was by no means settled. He held the governorship till 1554, having in 1549 been granted the duchy of Châtellerault in France. In his policy he was vacillating and eventually he retired to France, being absent (during the three momentous years prior to the deposition of Mary. On his return he headed the queen's party, his property suffering in, consequence. I He Was succeeded in the title in I 579 by his eldest son James, whose qualities were such that he was even proposed as a husband for Queen Elizabeth, but unfortunately he soon after became insane, his brother John, afterwards first marquess of Hamilton, administering the estates. From the third son, Claud, descends the duke of Abercorn, heir male of the house of Hamilton.

The first marquess of Hamilton had a natural son, Sir John Hamilton of Lettrick, who was legitimated in 1600 and was ancestor of the lords Bargany. His two legitimate sons were James, 3rd marquess and first duke of Hamilton, and William, who succeeded his brother as 2nd duke and was, in turn succeeded under the special remainder contained in the patent of dukedom by his niece Anne, duchess of Hamilton, who was married in 1656 to William Douglas, earl of Selkirk. The history of the descendants of this marriage belongs to the great house of Douglas, the 7th duke of Hamilton becoming the male representative and chief of the house of Douglas, Earls of Angus.

The above mentioned Claud Hamilton, who with his brother, the first marquess, had taken so large a part in the cause of Queen Mary, was created a lord of parliament as Lord Paisley in 1587. He had five sons, of whom three settled in Ireland, Sir Claud being ancestor of the Hamiltons of Beltrim and Sir Frederick, distinguished in early life in the Swedish wars, being ancestor of the viscounts Boyne.

James, the eldest son of Lord Paisley, found favour with James VI, and was created in 1603 Lord of Abercorn, and three years later was advanced in the peerage as earl of Abercorn and lord of Paisley, Hamilton, Mountcastell and Kilpatrick. His eldest Son James, 2nd earl of Abercorn, eventually heir male of the house of Hamilton and successor to the dukedom of Châtellerault was created in his father's lifetime lord of Strabane in Ireland, but he resigned this title in 1633 in favour of his brother Claud, whose grandson, Claud, 5th Lord Strabane, succeeded eventually as 4th earl of Abercorn. This earl, taking the side of James II., was with him in Ireland, his estate and title being afterwards forfeited, while his kinsman Gustavus Hamilton, afterwards first Lord Boyne, raised several regiments for William III., and greatly distinguished himself in the service of that monarch. His brother Charles, 5th earl of Abercorn, who obtained a reversal of the attainder, died without issue surviving in 1701 when the titles passed to his kinsman James Hamilton, grandson of Sir George Hamilton of Donalong in Ireland and great grandson of the first earl. This branch, most faithful to the house of Stuart, counted among its many members distinguished in military annals Count Anthony Hamilton, author of the Memories du comte de Gramont and brother of "la belle Hamilton," James, 6th earl of Abercorn (whose brother William was ancestor of Hamilton of the Mount, baronet), was a partizan of William Ill., and obtained in 1701 the additional Irish titles of lord of Mountcastle and viscount of Strabane

The 8th earl of Abercorn, who was summoned to the Irish house of peers in his father's lifetime; as Lord Mountcastle, was created a peer of Great Britain in 1786 as Viscount Hamilton of Leicestershire, and renewed the family's connection with Scotland by repurchasing the barony of Duddingston and later the lordship of Paisley. His nephew and successor was created marquess of Abercorn in 1790, and was father of James, 1st duke of Abercorn.

See the article Hamilton and other articles on the different branches of the family (e.g. Haddington and Bellhaven) in Sir J. H. Paul's edition of Sir R. Douglas's Peerage of Scotland; and also G. Marshall, Guide to Heraldry and Genealogy.

HAMILTON, MARQUESSES AND DUKES OF. The holders of these titles descended from Sir James Hamilton of Cadzow, who was made an hereditary lord of parliament in 1445, his Iands and baronies at the same time being erected into the "lordship" of Hamilton. His first wife Euphemia, widow of the 5th earl of Douglas, died in 1468, and probably early in 1474 he married Mary, daughter of King James II, and widow of Thomas Boyd , earl of Arran; the consequent nearness of the Hamiltons to the Scottish crown gave them very great weight in Scottish affairs. The first Lord Hamilton has been frequently confused with his father, James Hamilton of Cadzow, who was one of the hostages in England for the payment of James I's ransom and is sometimes represented as surviving until 1451 or even 1479, whereas he certainly died, according to evidence brought forward by J. Anderson in The Scots Peerage, before May 1441. James, 2nd Lord Hamilton, son of the 1st lord and Princess Mary, was created earl of Arran in 1503; and his son James, who was regent of Scotland from 1542 to 1554, received in February 1549 a grant of the duchy of Châtellerault in Poitou.

John, 1st marquess of Hamilton (c. 1542-1604), third son of James Hamilton, 2nd earl of Arran and duke of Châtellerault, was given the abbey of Arbroath in 1551. In politics he was largely under the influence of his energetic and unscrupulous younger brother Claud, afterwards Baron Paisley (c. 1543-1622, ancestor of the dukes of Abercorn. The brothers were the real heads of the house of Hamilton, their elder brother Arran being insane. At first hostile to Mary, they later became her devoted partisans. Their uncle, John Hamilton, archbishop of St. Andrews, natural son of the 1st earl of Arran, was restored to his consistorial jurisdiction by Mary in 1566, and in May of the next year he divorced Bothwell from his wife. Lord Claud met Mary on her escape from Lochleven and escorted her to Hamilton palace. John appears to have been in France in 1568 when the battle of Langslide was fought, and it was Claud who commanded Mary's vanguard in the battle. With others of the queen's party they were forfeited by the parliament and sought their revenge On the regent Murray. Although the Hamiltons disavowed all connexion with Murray's murderer, James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, he had been provided with horse and weapons by the abbot of Arbroath, and it was at Hamilton that he sought refuge after the deed. Archbishop Hamilton was hanged at Stirling in 1571 for alleged complicity in the murder of Darnley, and is said to have admitted that he was a party to the murder of Murray. At the pacification of Perth in 1573 the Hamiltons abandoned Mary's cause, and a recon-ciliation with the Douglases was sealed by Lord John's marriage with Margaret, daughter of the 7th Lord Glamis, a. cousin of the regent Morton. Sir William Douglas of Lochleven, however, persistently sought his life in revenge for the murder of Murray until, on his refusal to keep the peace, he was imprisoned. On the uncertain evidence extracted from the assassin by torture, the Hamiltons had been credited with a share in the murder of the regent Lennox in 1571. In 1579 proceedings against them for these two crimes were resumed, and when they escaped to England their lands and titles were seized by, their political enemies, James Stuart becoming earl of Arran. John Hamilton presently dissociated himself from the policy of his brother Claud, who continued to plot for Spanish intervention on behalf of Mary; and Catholic plotters are even said to have suggested his murder to procure the succession of his brother. Hamilton had at one time been credited with the hope of marrying Mary; his desires now centred on the peaceful enjoyment of his estates. With other Scottish exiles he crossed the border in 1585 and marched oil Stilling; he was admitted on the 4th of November and formally reconciled with James VI., with whom he was thenceforward on the friendliest terms. Claud returned to Scotland in 1586, and the abbey of Paisley was erected into a temporal barony in his favour in 1587. Much of his later years was spent in strict retirement, his son being authorized to act for him in 1598. John was created marquess of Hamilton and Lord Evan in 1599, and died oil the 6th of April 1604.

His eldest surviving son James, 2nd marquess of Hamilton (c. 1589-1625), was created baron of Innerdale and earl of Cambridge in the peerage of England in 1619, and these honours descended to his son James, who in 1643 was created duke of Hamilton (q.v.). William, 2nd duke of Hamilton (1616-1651),succeeded to the dukedom on his brother's execution in 1649. He was created earl of Lanark in 1639, and in the next year became secretary of state in Scotland. Arrested at Oxford by the king's orders in 1643 for "concurrence" with Hamilton, he effected his escape and was temporarily reconciled with the Presbyterian party. He was sent by the Scottish committee of estates to treat with Charles I. at Newcastle in 1646, when he sought in vain to persuade the king to consent to the establishment of Presbyterianism in England. On the 26th of September 1647 he signed on behalf of the Scots the treaty with Charles known as the "Engagement" at Carisbrooke Castle, and helped to organize the second Civil War. In 1648 he fled to Holland, his succession in the next year to his brother's dukedom making him an important personage among the Royalist exiles. he returned to Scotland with Prince Charles in 1650, but, finding a reconciliation with Argyll impossible, he refused to prejudice Charles's cause by pushing his claims, and lived in retirement chiefly until the Scottish invasion of England, when he acted as colonel of a body of his dependants. He died on the 12th of September 1651 from the effects of wounds received at Worcester. He left no male heirs, and the title devolved on the 1st duke's eldest surviving daughter Anne, duchess of Hamilton in her own right.

Anne married in 1656 William Douglas, earl of Selkirk (1635-1694) who was created duke of Hamilton in 1660 on his wife's petition, receiving also several of the other Hamilton peerages, but for his life only. The Hamilton estates had been declared forfeit by Cromwell, and he himself had been fined £1000. He supported Lauderdale in the early stages of his Scottish policy, in which he adopted a moderate attitude towards the Presbyterians, but the two were soon alienated, through the influence of the countess of Dysart, according to Gilbert Burnet, who spent much time at Hamilton Palace in arranging the Hamilton papers. With other Scottish noblemen who resisted Lauderdale's measures Hamilton was twice summoned to London to present his case at court, but without obtaining any result. he was dismissed from the council ill 1676, and on a subsequent visit to London Charles refused to receive him. On the accession of James II, he received numerous honours, but he was one of the first to enter into communication with the prince of Orange. He presided over the convention of Edinburgh, summoned at his request, which offered the Scottish crown to William and Mary in March 1689. His death took place at Holyrood on the 18th of April 1694. His wife survived until 1716.

James Douglas, 4th duke of Hamilton (1658-1712), eldest son of the preceding and of Duchess Anne, succeeded his mother, who resigned the dukedom to him in 1698, and at the accession of Queen Anne he was regarded as leader of the Scottish national party. He was an opponent of the union with England, but his lack of decision rendered his political conduct ineffective. He was created duke of Brandon in the peerage of Great Britain in 1711; and on the 15th of November in the following year he fought the celebrated duel with Charles Lord Mohun, narrated in Thackeray's Esmond, in which both the principals were killed. His son, James (1703-1743), became 5th duke, and his grandson James, 6th duke of Hamilton and Brandon (1724-1758), married the famous beauty, Elizabeth Gunning, afterwards duchess of Argyll. James George, 7th duke (1755-1769), became head of the house of Douglas on the death in 1761 of Archibald, ; duke of Douglas, whose titles but not his estates then devolved on the duke of Hamilton as heir-male. Archibald's brother Douglas (1756-1799) was the 8th duke, and when he died childless the titles passed to his uncle Archibald (1740-1810). His son Alexander, 10th duke (1767-1852), who as marquess of Douglas was a great collector and connoisseur of books and pictures (his collections realized £397,562 in 1882), was ambassador at St. Petersburg in 1806-1807. His sister, Lady Anne Hamilton, was lady-in-waiting and a faithful friend to Queen Caroline, wife of George IV.; she did not write the Secret History of the Court of England . . . (1832) to which her name was attached. William Alexander, 11th duke of Hamilton (1811-1863), married Princess Marie Amelie, daughter of Charles, grand-duke of Baden, and, on her mother's side, a cousin of Napoleon III. The title of duke of Châtellerault, granted to his remote ancestor in 1548, and claimed at different times by various branches of the Hamilton family, was conferred on the 11th duke's son, William Alexander, 12th duke of Hamilton (1845-1895), by the emperor of the French in 1864. His sister, Lady Mary Douglas-Hamilton, married in 1869 Albert, prince of Monaco, but their marriage was declared invalid in 1880. She subsequently married Count Tassilo Festetics, a Hungarian noble. The 12th duke left no male issue and was succeeded in 1895 by his kinsman, Alfred Douglas, a descendant of the 4th duke. Claud Hamilton, 1st Baron paisley, brother of the 1st marquess of Hamilton, was, as mentioned above, ancestor of the Abercorn branch of the Hamiltons. His son, who became earl of Abercorn in 1606, received among a number of other titles that of Lord Hamilton. This title, and also that of Viscount Hamilton, in the peerage of Great Britain, conferred on the 8th earl of Abercorn in 1786, are borne by the dukes of Abercorn, whose eldest son is usually styled by courtesy marquess of Hamilton, a title which was added to the other family honours when the 2nd marquess of Abercorn was raised to the dukedom in 1868.

See John Anderson, The House of Hamilton (1825); Hamilton Papers, ed. J. Bain (2 vols., Edinburgh, 1890-1892); Gilbert Burnet, Lives of James and William, dukes Hamilton (1677); The Hamilton Papers relative to 1638-1650, ed. S. R. Gardiner for the Camden Society (1880); G. E. C[okayne], Complete Peerage (1887-1898); an article by the Rev. J. Anderson in Sir J. B. Paul's edition of the Scots Peerage, Vol. iv. (1907).

Back to BHF HomePage click here !: