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Hamilton, Richard (fl.1688) (DNB00)

HAMILTON, RICHARD (fl. 1688), Jacobite lieutenant-general, was fifth son of Sir George Hamilton of Dunalong, fourth son of James, first earl of Abercorn [q. v.], by his wife Mary, sister of James Butler, first duke of Ormonde. He was younger brother of Anthony Hamilton [q. v.], and of 'La belle Hamilton,' Countess de Grammont [see Hamilton, Elizabeth]. Like the rest of his family he was a Roman catholic. He served with distinction in the French army (for which his father raised a regiment of Irish foot in 1673). An observation of Louvois, quoted by Macaulay (Hist. of England, iii. 198, footnote), indicates that his service was passed in the regiment of Royal Rousillon. His wit and politeness were remarked, even in the brilliant circl e at Versailles. He was banished from that court, owing, it was whispered, to his having aspired to the affections of a very exalted lady, a natural daughter of the king and wife of a legitimate prince of the house of Bourbon, the Princess de Conti, who was supposed to favour his advances. He went to Ireland. Richard Talbot, earl (afterwards duke) of Tyrconnel, who replaced the Duke of Ormonde in the Irish command soon after the accession of James II in 1685, had married the widow of Hamilton's elder brother, George, the beautiful Frances Hamilton (nee Jennings), sister of Sarah, duchess of Marlborough. Tyrconnel appears to have been much attached to Hamilton and his brother (Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. viii. (ii.) 490) ; and in the list of the army in Ireland for 1687-8 Richard Hamilton appears as one of the brigadier-generals, on the annual pay of 497l. 10s. (D'Alton, i. 190). Hamilton arrived in England with the troops sent over by Tyrconnel on the rumour of a Dutch invasion, and which were disbanded by William of Orange after James's flight. Hamilton was known to possess great influence in Ireland, and had the confidence of John Temple, who declared that he would answer for his friend Hamilton as for himself. Hamilton was accordingly sent on a special mission to Dublin, pledging himself to return within three weeks if unsuccessful. Macaulay, on the authority of Burnet and the 'Commons' Journals,' 1689, states that the terms he was empowered to offer to the Roman catholics, and particularly to the lord deputy (Tyrconnel), were most liberal (Hist. of England, iii. 152). Probably Hamilton meant to keep his word: but on arrival in Dublin he found that he had undertaken a task which he could not perform. Tyrconnel's hesitation, real or feigned, had come to an end. He had easily stimulated the ignorant and susceptible Irish to fury ; to calm them was beyond his skill (ib.) He was compelled to adopt an attitude of open hostility to the house of Orange, and Hamilton, forgetting his pledges, actively abetted him. Tyrconnel despatched Hamilton with 2,500 troops to make head against the Ulstermen, and the news of his having driven them back from Dromore on Coleraine greeted James on his entry into Dublin on 24 March 1689. Hamilton forced the pass at Cladyford, 'swimming his horse across as the enemy had broken the bridge.' He commanded the besieging force at various periods during the famous siege of Derry, and appears to have protested against the atrocities of 2 July (ib.) He withdrew when the city was relieved, after 105 days' leaguer, on 31 July 1689. He is stated by some writers to have 'zealously protected the protestants during his operations in Ulster,' a statement which Macaulay is not disposed to admit. When King William landed in Ireland in June 1690, Hamilton held the rank of lieutenant-general in King James's army (D'Alton). Hamilton strongly counselled the holding of the bridge over the Boyne at Slane. His conspicuous bravery in the fight at the Boyne is admitted by writers of all parties. He led a brigade of foot into the river to attack some of William's Huguenot regiments ; but his followers deserted him, leaving him almost alone in midstream, and he returned to the bank disheartened. Later he made desperate efforts to retrieve the fortunes of the day, charging at the head of the horse, and engaging in a fierce hand-to-hand conflict with Solmes's blues. But though they fought obstinately, his men were beaten, and himself wounded and made prisoner. Macaulay relates his interview with King William: 'Is the business over,' said William, 'or will your horse make more fight?' 'Upon my honour, sir, I believe they will,' answered Hamilton. 'Your honour!' muttered William, 'your honour!' Then, restraining himself, he ordered his own surgeon to attend to the wounds of the captive (Hist. of England, iii. 634-5). Hamilton was sent a prisoner to Chester Castle, and afterwards to the Tower of London. Subsequently he rejoined James in France. At Calais in 1696, in the hope of some attempt at a restoration, James appointed him a Lieutenant-general of his forces and master of the robes. Luttrell (Relation of State Affairs, vi. 252) names Hamilton among the generals who embarked with the Pretender in the Dunkirk armament of 1708. Hamilton died in France, but the exact date is not known.

[Lodge's Peerage of Ireland (Archdall), v. 128, under ‘Strabane;’ Collins's Peerage of England, 1812 edit. under ‘Abercorn,’ ii. 524–5; D'Alton's Illustrations of King James's Army List (Dublin, 1860), i. 190–1, &c. (D'Alton's authorities are given in the preface to vol. i.); Macaulay's Hist. of England, ii. 430–569, iii. 151–635 (a list of Macaulay's authorities is given in a footnote, iii. 635); Harleian MS. 4847. Sixteen letters from Tyrconnel and Lord Melfort to Richard Hamilton, between 6 April 1689 and 17 March 1690, are among Lord Talbot de Malahide's MSS., and are noted, with numerous extracts, in Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. pt. ii. pp. 490–5.]

H. M. C.