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HAMILTON, WILLIAM JOHN (1805–1867), geologist, eldest son of William Richard Hamilton [q. v.], was born in London 5 July 1805. He was educated at the Charterhouse and at the university of Gottingen, paying special attention to modern languages and history. In 1827 he was appointed attach to the legation at Madrid, and in 1829 was transferred to Paris, whence he returned to London, and acted for some time as precis-writer to Lord Aberdeen at the foreign office. At his father's request Murchison gave him some practical instruction in geology, and in 1831 he became a fellow of the Geological Society, of which he acted as one of the secretaries from 1832 to 1854. Murchison introduced him to Hugh Strickland, and in 1855 the two started on a journey of exploration in the Levant. After visiting the Ionian Islands, the Bosphorus, and the volcanic region of the Katakekaumene, Strickland was compelled to return home; but Hamilton proceeded alone on an adventurous journey on horseback into Armenia, through the whole length of Asia Minor, and back to Smyrna. He made careful topographical observations, and kept a full diary of geological and archaeological matters. On his return he was elected president of the Royal Geographical Society for 1837, an office which he also held in 1841, 1842, and 1847. He sat in parliament in the conservative interest for Newport, Isle of Wight, from 1841 to 1847. Having communicated various details of his journey to the 'Transactions' and 'Proceedings' of the Geological Society, Hamilton, in 1842, issued a complete narrative in two volumes, illustrated with drawings by himself, entitled 'Researches in Asia Minor, Pontus, and Armenia, with some account of their Antiquities and Geology.' This painstaking work received the commendation of Humboldt, and its author was awarded the founder's medal of the Geographical Society in 1843. In 1844 he communicated to the Geological Society a lengthy paper on the rocks and minerals of central Tuscany, and in 1848 an account of the agate-quarries of Oberstein. Interested in tertiary deposits, he gave much careful study to recent mollusca as tending to their elucidation, and in 1854 and 1855 prepared two elaborate papers on the geology of the Mayence Basin and of the Hesse Cassel district. Hamilton was chosen president of the Geological Society in 1854, having long been one of the most active members of its council. With characteristic care his two anniversary addresses were made to contain a complete digest of almost everything published on the science during the two years. He subsequently made various excursions in France and Belgium with Prestwich and other fellows of the society, and in 1865 was re-elected president. Though of athletic build, his strength was undermined by an internal complaint; he resigned in 1866, and went abroad for a year. He only returned to England shortly before his death on 27 June 1867. Of marked urbanity and great business capacity, he had acted as director and chairman of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway from 1849 until his death. In 1832 he married Martin, daughter of John Trotter of Dyrham Park, Hertfordshire, who died in 1833, leaving one son, Robert William, afterwards colonel in the Grenadiers; and secondly, in 1838, Margaret, daughter of Henry, thirteenth viscount Dillon, by whom he left three sons and four daughters; the eldest daughter, Victoria Henrietta, married James Graham Goodenough [q. v.]

[Proc. Geol. Soc., 1868, p. xxix; Journ. Royal Geogr. Soc. xxxviii. 1868, p. cxxxiv; Gent. Mag. 1867, ii. 392-3; Foster's Peerage, s.v. 'Belhaven.']

G. S. B.