Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hamilton, Richard Winter

HAMILTON, RICHARD WINTER (1794–1848), independent minister, son of the Rev. Frederick Hamilton of Brighton, and his wife Martha, daughter of the Rev. Richard Winter, B.D., was born at Pentonville, London, on 6 July 1794. At nine years of age he was sent to a preparatory school at Hammersmith, and subsequently to an academy at Newport, Isle of Wight. From his thirteenth to his sixteenth year he was at Mill Hill grammar school. In 1809 he drew up a solemn 'covenant,' devoting himself to the service of his Creator. In 1810 he entered as a student for the ministry at Hoxton Independent College, and was speedily placed in the highest class of humane letters. He early began to preach, and when only nineteen was chosen to deliver the anniversary oration at the college chapel, Hoxton. In January 1815 he was chosen minister of Albion Independent Chapel, Leeds, and became a popular preacher.

On 21 May 1816 Hamilton married Rachel, daughter of Michael Thackeray of Leeds, who did not long survive. His sermons on French protestants (1816) and the death of the Princess Charlotte (1817) attracted much notice. He was an original member, and at one time president, of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, established in 1821. A selection from his papers read before the society was published under the title of 'Nugæ Literariæ.' In the summer of 1828 he made a tour in connection with the Irish branch of the London Missionary Society. He wrote and spoke in favour of catholic emancipation. In 1829 he officiated for the independent church of Hamburg on the occasion of a special celebration, and in 1833 published a volume of sermons directed against deists and Unitarians. In 1834 he issued his 'Pastoral Appeals,' a series of discourses on devotion. Albion Chapel proving now too small, Belgrave Chapel, Leeds, was erected for him at a cost of 5,500l. On 16 Dec. 1834 he married Harriet, daughter of John Robson, esq., of Sutton Hall, Yorkshire. In 1838 Hamilton published a volume of 'Prayers and Thanksgivings,' and in 1841 obtained a prize of fifty guineas for an 'Essay on Christian Missions.' Two years later he undertook a long tour in Scotland for the London Missionary Society. On 1 Feb. 1844 he was made LL.D. by the university of Glasgow, and D.D. by the university of the city of New York. Hamilton won a prize of one hundred guineas, offered by a citizen of Manchester, for the best essay upon the extension of education. In 1846 he delivered the congregational lecture upon 'The Revealed Doctrine of Rewards and Punishments;' and in 1847 he was elected chairman of the Congregational Union of England and Wales. Shortly afterwards he formed part of a deputation to the government to oppose the contemplated grants of public money by parliament in aid of education. In the following winter he prepared for publication a memoir of the Rev. John Ely, and published 'Horæ et Vindiciæ Sabbaticæ; or, Familiar Disquisitions on the Revealed Sabbath.' He died at Leeds on 18 July 1848.

Hamilton was a man of ability and rather turgid eloquence, and at his death one of the most prominent members of his denomination. He was somewhat unfortunate in his biographer (Stowell), whose work was 'welcomed with a general disappointment.'

[Life of Richard Winter Hamilton. LL.D., D.D. By William Hendry Stowell, D.D., 1850; Eclectic Review, April 1850; Congregationalist, January 1872.]

G. B. S.