Hamilton Surname Genealogy

were Scots who rose to be a leading family in Scotland in the 16th
century. Their forebear was Walter de Hameldone who owned
property near
Paisley in Renfrewshire in 1294 and featured in the Ragman Roll of
He was Anglo-Norman by origin.
They had taken their name from the now
deserted village of Hamilton in Leicestershire through which they had
passed on
their way to Scotland. The name Hamilton comes from the Old
English hamel
meaning “crooked” and dun “hill.”
Hamilton Resources on

The descendants of Walter fitz Gilbert or Walter
de Hameldone
became one of the most important of the
Scottish Lowland
families. Walter himself was involved in
his time in
the conflicts with the English, as were many of his descendants. James Hamilton in fact was held hostage in
1424 by the English in the ransom of the Scottish king.

His son James became Lord Hamilton in 1445
and their home of Cadzow in Lanarkshire was renamed Hamilton. The next two Lord Hamiltons were close to the
Scottish throne and each acted as Regent during the turbulent times of
the 16th
century. The Hamiltons had even been
tempted by
the throne
itself as there was a linkage through marriage
these Hamiltons and the royal Stewarts.
However, they later suffered for their support of the Royalist
during the English Civil War. James, Duke of
Hamilton, was executed in 1649.

chief is still considered the premier Duke of Scotland. Hamilton
in Hamilton, Lanarkshire was the family seat from 1695 to 1921. There are several branches of this
family, some
descending from illegitimate sons. Many
Hamiltons from Scotland and from Ireland achieved distinction in the
and navy during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Some Hamiltons in Scotland may have derived
their name from the town rather than from the family. The surname is
the 29th
most common in Scotland today.

One James Hamilton from the Hamilton line, a strong supporter of King
James I
of England and Scotland, was created the Earl of Abercorn in 1603 and
rewarded with large estates at Strabane in county Tyrone.
Hamiltons received land grants

elsewhere in Ulster during the plantation period.

The Earl of Abercorn and his descendants were
Catholic and much of their land was confiscated in 1650 and again in
1690 after
the Battle of the Boyne (while another Hamilton who fought on the
side was given the title of Viscount Boyne and received lands at
Stackallan in

However, these Hamiltons were
able to resume their position during the 18th and 19th centuries. They became the Dukes of Abercorn and assumed
aristocratic airs:

first Duke
always went out shooting in his Blue Ribbon Noble Order of the Garter
required the housemaids to wear white kid gloves when they made his

They were active Unionists at the time of
Home Rule. James Hamilton, the 3rd Duke
of Abercorn, was made the first Governor of Northern Ireland, a post he
between 1922 and 1945.

Hamilton in
Ireland may in some cases have displaced Hamill and been used as an
anglicization of the Cork name O’hUrmholtaigh.

America. Paul
Hamilton was an early arrival in America, coming to South Carolina to
seek his fortune sometime in the 1680’s and, having inherited some
money from
his father, building himself a brick house home at his plantation on
island. A later Paul Hamilton fought in
the Revolutionary War and became Governor of South Carolina in 1804 and
then US
Secretary of the Navy.

Other early Hamiltons

  • Andrew Hamilton who had arrived in
    Philadelphia around 1700 and became a well-known lawyer there, as was
    his son
  • Captain
    Hance Hamilton
    , who led a
    Scots Irish group to America in 1729 and to what became Hamiltonban
    township in
    York county, Pennsylvania.
  • James
    Hamilton, born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania of Scots Irish parents
    in 1750,
    who distinguished himself in the Revolutionary War, in fact receiving
    British flag of surrender at Yorkville. His
    son rose to prominence in South Carolina and became its
    Governor in
    1830. He was an early promoter of the
    state of Texas.
  • John Hamilton and his family
    left Scotland for Pennsylvania in 1769 and eventually settled in
    Washington county. Hamiltons are still there.
  • and James Hamilton, also
    Scots Irish, who was born in North Carolina in 1785 and was the
    forebear of
    Andrew Hamilton, a man who moved to Texas in 1846 and later served as

, the
first US Secretary of the Treasury who famously died in a duel with
Aaron Burr
in 1804, was in fact born out of wedlock in the British West
Indies. His
father, who soon disappeared, was the younger son of a Scottish laird
Ayrshire. Alexander came to America in 1772.
His son William moved to Illinois and was
an early developer of lead mining in Wisconsin; his grandson Alexander
was a Unionist
general in the Civil War.

Robert Hamilton, like other Scotsmen of his time, was drawn to
Canada by
the fur trade. He arrived in 1780, soon
established himself as a merchant in the Niagara area, and expanded his
fortunes through successful land speculation.
His son George was the developer of Hamilton, Ontario.

The brothers William and George Hamilton came
to Canada from county Meath in Ireland around 1805.
After a while they became owners of a sawmill
in Hawkesbury, Ontario, which they expanded to be one of the largest
operations in Canada.

Hamilton Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Hamilton Names

James Hamilton became Lord Hamilton
in 1445 and was the first to adopt Hamilton as a surname.
James, Duke of Hamilton,
Charles I’s supporter in Scotland during the Civil War. Like
his King he was tried and executed in 1649.
Alexander Hamilton was an early
18th century Scottish privateer who wrote an account of his experiences
in 1727, A New Account of the East
Alexander Hamilton was the
first US Secretary of the Treasury in 1789 killed in a duel in 1804.
George Hamilton founded the
city of
Hamilton in Ontario.
Willie Hamilton was the Scots
anti-monarchy MP for Fife in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
is the British challenger for the F1 motor racing
championship (he won it in 2008).

Select Hamiltons Today

  • 38,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Belfast)
  • 73,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 43,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


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