1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Orkney, George Hamilton, Earl of

ORKNEY, GEORGE HAMILTON, Earl of (1666–1737), British soldier, was the fifth son of William, duke of Hamilton, and was trained for the military career by his uncle, Lord Dumbarton, in the 1st Foot. In 1689 he became lieutenant-colonel and a few months later brevet colonel. He served at the battles of the Boyne and of Aughrim, and, at the head of the Royal Fusiliers, at Steinkirk. As colonel of his old regiment, the 1st Foot, he took part in the battle of Landen or Neerwinden, and in the siege of Namur, serving also at Athlone and Limerick in the Irish war. At Namur Hamilton received a severe wound, and in recognition of his services was made a brigadier. In 1695 he married Elizabeth Villiers (see preceding article), who was “the wisest woman” Swift “ever knew.” The following year he was made earl of Orkney in the Scottish peerage. As a major-general he took the field with Marlborough in Flanders, and on January 1st, 1703–1704 he became lieutenant-general. At Blenheim it was Orkney’s command that carried the village, and in June 1705 he lead a flying column which marched from the Moselle to the rescue of Liége. At Ramillies he headed the pursuit of the defeated French, at Oudenard he played a distinguished part and in 1708 he captured the forts of St Amand and St Martin at Tournay. At the desperately fought battle of Malplaquet Lord Orkney’s battalions led the assault on the French entrenchments, and suffered very heavy losses. He remained with the army in Flanders till the end of the war as ”general of the foot,” and at the peace he was made colonel-commandant of the 1st Foot as a reward for his services. He occupied various civil and military posts of importance, culminating with the appointment of “field marshal of all His Majesty’s forces” in 1736. This appointment is the first instance of field marshal’s rank (as now understood) in the British Service. A year later he died in London.