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Hamilton, Marquesses And Dukes Of

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 lands and baronies at the same time being erected into the " lordship " of Hamilton. His first wife Euphemia, widow of the sth 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 Chatellerault in Poitou.

JOHN, 1st marquess of Hamilton (c. 1542-1604), third son of James Hamilton, 2nd earl of Arran (<?..) and duke of Chatellerault, 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 1 568 when the battle of Langside was fought, and it was probably 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 reconciliation 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 Stewart 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 on Stirling; 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 on 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 (?..). 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 privy council in 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.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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