Clan Hamilton

Clan Hamilton
Clan Hamilton
Crest badge
Clan member crest badge - Clan Hamilton.svg
Crest: In a ducal cornet an oak tree fructed and penetrated transversely in the main stem by a frame saw Prper, the frame Or
Motto: Through
Region Lowlands

Douglas hamiltonCoA.png
Alexander Douglas-Hamilton
The 16th Duke of Hamilton
and the 13th Duke of Brandon
Seat Lennoxlove House
Historic seat Hamilton Palace

Hamyltowne tartan, as published in 1842 in Vestiarium Scoticum; note: the modern thread count calls for more than one white line

The House of Hamilton, occasionally and erroneously referred to as Clan Hamilton, is a Scottish family who historically held broad territories throughout central and southern Scotland, particularly Ayrshire, Lanarkshire and the Lothians. The Hamiltons' main areas of influence were in the Scottish Lowlands, excepting the Isle of Arran, from which territory, the chief of Hamilton bears the Lymphad of the Isles on his arms.

The family is descended from Walter fitz Gilbert of Cadzow, an Scoto-Norman comrade of Robert the Bruce, and rose in power to be the leading noble family in Scotland, second only to the royal House of Stewart, to whom they were closely related. Members of the family have held a number of titles in the peerages of both Scotland and Great Britain, the principal title being Duke of Hamilton, the duke himself being the senior representative of the family.



Origins of the house

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, 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 de 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 Hamiltons 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.

 Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). "Hamilton (family)". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

Wars of Scottish Independence

During the Wars of Scottish Independence the Hamiltons initially supported the English and Walter fitz Gilbert was governor of Bothwell Castle on behalf of the English. However, he later changed loyalty to Robert the Bruce, following the Battle of Bannockburn, and ceded Bothwell to him. For this act, he was rewarded with a portion of land which had been forfeited by the Comyns at Dalserf and later the Barony and lands of Cadzow, which in time would become the town of Hamilton.

In 1346 the Hamiltons fought for King David II of Scotland at the Battle of Neville's Cross. Sir David Hamilton was captured and not released until a large ransom was paid.

15th century

In the 15th century the Hamiltons gained more royal support when in 1474 James the 1st Lord Hamilton married Princess Mary, the daughter of King James II of Scotland. Their son was made the Earl of Arran and stood next in line for the throne.

16th century and Anglo-Scottish Wars

During the 16th century the Hamiltons made their home on the Island of Arran in 1503 and for most of that century a Hamilton was close to inheriting the Crown. The 2nd Earl of Arran was heir to the throne both of King James IV of Scotland and Mary, Queen of Scots. As Mary's regent he enjoyed her wealth and was bribed into allegiance with both England and France. In 1545 the Earl led his men into battle at the Battle of Ancrum Moor where they helped to defeat the English during the Anglo-Scottish Wars.

Arran's eldest son James, was a commander in the Scots Royal Guards of François II of France. A possible suitor of the widowed Mary, he eventually lost his mind at the age of 26 and was confined for the remaining 47 years of his life.

Arran's third son John was made Marquess of Hamilton in 1599 and was keeper of Edinburgh and Stirling Castles. His son James succeeded in 1604 to his father's titles, and in 1609 to his uncle's.

Previously, in 1587 Arran's brother Claud had been made first Lord Paisley. Paisley had fought at the Battle of Langside, but descended in later years into insanity. His son James had been created Baron Abercorn in 1603, and in 1606 Earl of Abercorn, Lord Paisley, Hamilton, Mountcashell and Kilpatrick for his assistance to King James VI at the Union of the Crowns. Abercorn predeceased his father, and his son James, Master of Abercorn succeeded to his fathers titles in 1618. He had already been made Baron Hamilton of Strabane in the Peerage of Ireland in 1617. Claud, Lord Paisley died in or around 1621 and his grandson inherited his Lordship of Parliament. The Irish title came with significant property in Co. Tyrone, Ulster, and this branch of the family is now represented by James Hamilton, 5th Duke of Abercorn. The Abercorns, although a junior branch of the family, are the heirs male to the chieftancy.

Civil War

The Hamiltons under the third Marquis of Arran supported King Charles I during the Civil War. The Marquess was made Duke of Hamilton in 1643. He was beheaded with his king in London in 1649. His brother, William Hamilton, 2nd Duke of Hamilton died from wounds received at the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

Seat of the chief

Hamilton Palace in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, had been the family's seat from 1695. Built by Duchess Anne, and her husband William Douglas, 3rd Duke of Hamilton, it had the distinction of being the largest non-royal residence in Europe, reaching its greatest extent under the 10th and the 11th dukes in the mid nineteenth century.

Excessive subsidence of the palace caused by the family's mines led to its condemnation and demolition in 1921. The 13th Duke then moved to Dungavel House, near Strathaven. This was where deputy-führer Rudolf Hess aimed to reach during his doomed peace mission to see the Douglas, 14th Duke of Hamilton in 1941.

In 1947, Dungavel was sold to the coal board, and then on to the government, who turned it into an open prison. Currently, it is the site of a controversial holding centre for asylum-seekers.

The family moved to Lennoxlove House in East Lothian, which remains the residence of the current Duke.

Other properties

See also


External links

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