Hamilton, Charles (1753?-1792) (DNB00)

HAMILTON, CHARLES (1753?–1792), orientalist, born in Belfast about 1753, was the only son of Charles Hamilton (d. 1759), merchant, by Miss Katherine Mackay (d. 1767). After spending two years in the office of a Dublin merchant he obtained a cadetship on the East India Company's establishment at Bengal, and proceeded to India in 1776. He gained his first commission on 24 Oct. of that year, and was promoted lieutenant on 10 July 1778 (Dodwell and Miles, Indian Army List, pp. 126-7). He studied oriental languages, and became one of the first members of the Asiatic Society of Calcutta. While engaged in the expedition against the Rohillas he collected the materials for his excellent 'Historical Relation of the Origin, Progress, and Final Dissolution of the Government of the Rohilla Afgans in the Northern Provinces of Hindostan,' 1787, compiled from a Persian manuscript and other original papers. In 1786 he obtained permission to return home for five years in order to translate from the Persian the 'Hedaya, or Guide,' a commentary on the Mussulman laws; he was selected for the task by the governor-general and council of Bengal. The work having been published in four quarto volumes in 1791, Hamilton was appointed resident at the court of the grand vizier at Oudh, and prepared to leave England. Symptoms of consumption, however, appeared, and he was recommended to take a voyage to Lisbon, but he died at Hampstead on 14 March 1792, aged 39, and was buried in Bunhill Fields. A monument to his memory was afterwards erected at Belfast by his sisters, one of whom was the well-known writer, Elizabeth Hamilton (1758–1816) [q. v.] A second edition of the 'Hedaya' by Standish Grove Grady, was published in 1870.

[Benger's Memoirs of Mrs. Elizabeth Hamilton, vol. i.]

G. G.