The papers of the Dukes of Hamilton including those in the Laing Collection are composed of writs, inventories and correspondence about the business affairs of the Dukes. The material includes: correspondence of James Hamilton (1658-1712), 4th Duke; legal document relating to James Hamilton (1702-1742), 5th Duke; letter of James Hamilton (1724-1758), 6th Duke; legal documents relating to James George Hamilton (1755-1769), 7th Duke; letters and legal documents of Douglas Hamilton (1756-1799), 8th Duke; letters and documents of Archibald Hamilton (1740-1819), 9th Duke; letters and inventories of the papers of Alexander Hamilton (1767-1852), 10th Duke; letters of William Alexander Anthony Archibald Douglas Hamilton (1811-1863), 11th Duke; and, papers of William Alexander Louis Stephen Hamilton (1845-1895), 12th Duke of Hamilton.
Papers of the Dukes of Hamilton (1658-1895)
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- ReferenceGB 237 Coll-323
- Dates of Creation18th century-19th century
- Language of MaterialEnglish, and Scots.
- Physical Descriptioncirca 90 letters, notes, and documents.
- LocationGen. 1721, no.21; Gen. 1981/146; Gen. 1952/2/16; Dk.1.30, ff.304, 315; Dk.6.19/2; Dk.6.19/5
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Over a long period of time, the Hamilton family provided the heirs presumptive to the Scottish crown. The Hamiltons were descended from the 13th century Walter Fitz Gilbert of Hameldone. The name appeared to have changed to Hamilton in 1445 in a charter authorised by King James II when James Hamildone became a Lord of Parliament. Royal marriage and descent led to the elevation of the Barony of Hamilton to the rank of Marquis in 1599 and subsequently to Duke. It was the Royalist James Hamilton (1606-1649), 3rd Marquess of Hamilton, who had become the 1st Duke in April 1643. In September 1711, James, 4th Duke of Hamilton, was created a Peer of Great Britain, becoming 1st Duke of Brandon. Already a Knight of the Thistle, he was installed as a Knight of the Garter in 1712. Ancestral property of the Dukedom included the Isle of Arran and its Brodick Castle. Latterly, the ducal seat was Hamilton Palace on the Hamilton estate above the Avon, a tributary of the Clyde. Mine workings in the area rendered the Palace unsafe however, and it was demolished in 1920. Today, Brodick Castle is in the hands of the National Trust for Scotland. The home of the present 15th Duke of Hamilton and 12th Duke of Brandon, Angus Alan Douglas Douglas-Hamilton (b. 1938), is the estate of Lennoxlove, near Haddington in East Lothian. Lennoxlove (formerly the estate of Lethington and home of William Maitland, Secretary of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots) was purchased by the Hamiltons in 1947. Housed at Lennoxlove are the death mask of Mary Stuart, a silver casket which may well be the one that contained the Casket Letters, and many pieces from the demolished Hamilton Palace. The Duke of Hamilton is the Premier Peer of Scotland, and the Hereditary Keeper of the Palace of Holyrood House, Edinburgh. The 15th Duke succeeded his father, Douglas Douglas-Hamilton (1903-1973), 14th Duke of Hamilton and 11th Duke of Brandon. His grandfather was Alfred Douglas Douglas-Hamilton (1862-1940), 13th Duke of Hamilton and 10th Duke of Brandon. The Hamiltons have also claimed the title Duke of Châtelherault. James Hamilton (1517-1575), 2nd Earl of Arran, had received the title to this French Dukedom in 1549 (as Duc De Châtelherault) after joining the pro-French party in Scotland and agreeing to the marriage of Mary Stuart with Francis, Dauphin of France.
Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.
The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Keay, John. and Keay, Julia (eds.). Collins encyclopaedia of Scotland. London: Harper Collins, 1994. (2) Burke, Sir Bernard. and Burke, Ashworth P. A genealogical and heraldic history of the peerage and baronetage, the privy council, and knightage. 87th edition. London: Burke's Peerage Ltd., 1929. (3) Who's who 1995. London: A. and C. Black, 1995. (4) The new encyclopaedia Britannica Micropaedia. Ready Reference.15th edition. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., 1991. (5) earlier issues of Who's who.
Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.
Other Finding Aids
Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.