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HAMILTON, Sir JAMES, of Cadzow, first Lord Hamilton (d. 1479), was descended from Walter de Hamilton, or Walter Fitzgilbert, styled in Barbour's ‘Bruce’ Schyr Walter Gilbertson, who, after swearing fealty to Edward I, became a supporter of Robert Bruce, and was rewarded by the barony of Cadzow, with the castle, which had formerly been a royal residence. He was the eldest of five sons of Sir James Hamilton, the fifth baron of Cadzow, by his wife Janet, eldest daughter of Sir Alexander de Levinstoun of Callendar. Shortly after the death of Archibald, fifth earl of Douglas, in 1439, he married by papal dispensation his widow, Lady Euphemia, eldest daughter of Patrick, earl of Strathearn. This lady was the mother of the Fair Maid of Galloway, who in 1444 was married to William Douglas, eighth earl of Douglas [q. v.] To these alliances was due the close connection of Hamilton with the ambitious schemes of the powerful house of Douglas, of which he was for some time regarded as one of the principal retainers. In 1444 he assisted in the devastation of the lands of Bishop Kennedy of St. Andrews, in Fife and Forfar, on which account he and other noblemen were sentenced to excommunication for a year. Soon after the sentence expired he obtained a special mark of royal favour, being on 3 July 1445 created a lord of parliament, under the title of Lord Hamilton of Cadzow, with the superiority of the lands of the farm of Hamilton, his manorhouse called the Orchard to be henceforth called Hamilton. On 18 Sept. 1449 he was appointed one of the commissioners to meet on the borders for the renewal of a truce with England (Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, iv. entry 1216; Rymer, Fœdera, xi. 238). The same year he obtained authority from Pope Sixtus V to erect the parish church of Hamilton (formerly Cadzow) into a collegiate church, and to add a provost and six prebendaries to a former foundation of two chaplainries in the church. In 1450 he accompanied Douglas to the jubilee celebration at Rome (Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, iv. entry 1254). He also adhered to the confederacy formed by Douglas soon after his return with the Earls of Crawford, Ross, and Moray for mutual defence, and was one of those in attendance on Douglas when he paid his fatal visit to the king in Stirling Castle in February 1452. He accompanied Douglas to the castle gate, but on attempting to enter was rudely thrust back by the porter. Indignant at the insult he drew his sword, but his relation, Sir Alexander Livingston, held him back from within by a long halbert till the gate was made fast. After the slaughter of Douglas by the king a pair of spurs is said to have been conveyed to Hamilton from some one in the castle as a hint to escape. A month afterwards he accompanied James, ninth earl, to Stirling, when the king was denounced as a traitor, and the safe-conduct granted the late earl was dragged through the streets. On the night before the assembling of the estates at Edinburgh, 12 June 1453, the Earl of Douglas, his three brothers, and Lord Hamilton fixed a placard to the door of the house of parliament, renouncing their allegiance to the king as a traitor and murderer. They and the other confederate noblemen were thereupon forfaulted, and other peers created to take their place (Acta Parl. Scot. ii. 73). When Douglas soon afterwards made terms with the king, Hamilton gave in his submission. Shortly afterwards he was sent on a mission to London (Cal. of Documents relating to Scotland, iv. entry 1266). Of this he appears to have taken advantage to act as the agent of Douglas in his intrigues with the Yorkists. The Duke of York agreed to support Douglas against the king on condition that he took the oath of homage to the English crown. Hamilton declined, but before Douglas could return an answer as to his own intentions, he was suddenly attacked by the king, who during the same raid devastated also the lands of Hamilton. While the king was besieging the castle of Abercorn, Douglas and Hamilton gathered a great force with a view to ‘take the extreme chance of fortune’ (Pitscottie, p. 129). Hamilton is said to have been the prime adviser of Douglas in the bold attitude he had assumed, but when Douglas came in sight of the royal army his courage failed him, and he hesitated to engage it. Hamilton, disgusted at Douglas's reluctance, and having had promises from the king through Bishop Kennedy, went over the same night (ib. p. 134). Hamilton is described by Pitscottie as a ‘man of singular wisdom and courage, and in whom the army put their whole hope of victory’ (ib. p. 174). His defection caused the other followers of Douglas immediately to disperse. Hamilton was well received by the king, but until the surrender of Abercorn Castle was for the sake of precaution retained a prisoner in Roslin Castle. Afterwards, on the forfeiture of Douglas, he obtained a grant of Finnart in Renfrewshire and other lands. In 1455 he was sent along with other commissioners to York to arrange a treaty of peace with England, and on 1 July of the same year he was made sheriff of the county of Lanark. On 14 Jan. 1459–60 Hamilton granted a charter of four acres to the college of Glasgow, on condition that the master and students should daily after supper pray for the souls of Lord Hamilton and his wife Euphemia. In 1457 he entered into a bond with George Douglas, fourth earl of Angus [q. v.], to be ‘his man of special retinue and service all the days of his life.’ He also became one of the most trusted friends and counsellors of James III, and after the forfeiture of Thomas Boyd, earl of Arran, in 1469, he married Boyd's widow, the Princess Mary Stewart, daughter of James II. Buchanan states that a divorce was made during Boyd's absence in Flanders, and that the princess married Hamilton much against her will. Boyd, he adds, died not long afterwards. Another version is that Boyd was dead before the marriage was arranged. It probably took place in February or March 1473–4. On 25 April 1476 a dispensation was granted by Pope Sixtus IV to Lord James Hamilton and Mary Stewart as having married within the prohibited degrees (Theiner, Vetera Monumenta, p. 477). By this marriage with the king's sister the house of Hamilton gained a great position, and became the nearest family to the throne. ‘The head of that house was in fact either the actual heir to the monarch for the time being or the next after a royal child down to the time when in the family of James VI of Scotland and I of England there were more royal children than one’ (Hill Burton, Scotland, iii. 14). Under James III Hamilton was employed on several important missions to England. In 1474 he was commissioner extraordinary to the English court, and he was afterwards one of the commissioners appointed to meet the plenipotentiaries of England to arrange a betrothal between the Princess Cecilia, daughter of Edward IV, and Prince James, duke of Rothesay, then both in their infancy. He died on 6 Nov. 1479, and the Princess Mary about Whitsuntide 1488. By his first wife he had two daughters, Elizabeth, married to David, fourth earl of Crawford, created by James III Duke of Montrose, and Agnes, married to Sir James Hamilton of Preston. By his second wife he had a son, James, second lord Hamilton and first earl of Arran [q. v.], and a daughter, married to Matthew, second earl of Lennox. Among his natural children were Sir Patrick Hamilton of Kincavel, father of Patrick Hamilton the martyr [q. v.], and John Hamilton of Broomhill.

[Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, vol. iv.; Exchequer Rolls of Scotland; Rymer's Fœdera; Auchinleck Chronicle; Histories of Lindsay of Pitscottie, Bishop Lesley, and Buchanan; Anderson's Genealogical History of the Hamiltons; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), i. 695–7; Hamilton Papers, in Maitland Club Miscellany, vol. iv.; Report on the Manuscripts of the Duke of Hamilton, Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. Appendix, pt. vi.]

T. F. H.