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Royal Naval Biography/Baillie-Hamilton, William Alexander

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[Captain of 1828.]

Third son of the late Rev. Charles Baillie Hamilton, (who was a great-grandson of Thomas, sixth Earl of Haddington,) by Lady Charlotte Hamilton, sister to Alexander, tenth and present Earl of Home, one of the representative peers of Scotland, Lord Lieutenant of Berwickshire, and Colonel of the militia of that county.

This officer was born at Normanby, co. York, June 6th, 1803; and being permitted to choose his profession, he embarked as midshipman on board the Rochfort 80, Captain Sir Archibald Q. Dickson, Bart., early in 1816. We subsequently find him at the Royal Naval College, from whence he was discharged, about the close of 1819, into the Vigo 74, fitting out for the flag of Rear-Admiral Lambert. The first ship in which he went to sea, however, was the Active 46, Captain James A. Gordon, under whom he served until that frigate was paid off, after attending on King George IV. during his visit to Ireland, in 1821.

Mr. Hamilton next joined the Euryalus 42, Captain (now Sir Augustus W. J.) Clifford, fitting out for the Mediterranean station, from whence he returned home to pass his examination, in the summer of 1823. After this, he was received on board the Revenge 78, bearing the flag of Sir Harry Neale, who appointed him, in Sept. following, to act as a lieutenant of the Active, then commanded by Captain Andrew King, at Lisbon. His first commission bears date Dec. 1st, 1823; and his subsequent appointments were as follow: – Jan. 26th, 1824, to the Blanche 46, Captain William Bowen Mends, which ship conveyed Vice-Admiral Lord Amelius Beauclerk to the river Tagus, and afterwards proceeded to South America; – July 26th, 1825, to the Druid 46, recently launched at Pembroke, commanded by Captain Samuel Chambers, and about to sail on an experimental cruise; – and, Mar. 1st, 1826, to the Ganges 84, fitting out for the flag of Rear-Admiral (now Sir Robert) Otway.

Previous to the departure of the Ganges from Portsmouth, Lieutenant Hamilton was ordered to join the Blonde frigate, then on the point of sailing for Bermuda, where he was landed with despatches for Rear-Admiral (now (Sir Willoughby) Lake, commander-in-chief on the North American station. On his joining that officer, he received an order to assume the command of the Doterel sloop, at Halifax, which appointment was confirmed by the Admiralty in Nov. 1826.

The Doterel having encountered much bad weather in her passages across the Gulf Stream, and being examined for a refit, was found to have suffered considerably, and to be so defective, that it was considered necessary to dismantle and lay her up at Bermuda; Commander Hamilton consequently returned home from thence, with his officers and part of his crew, in the Queensberry packet, May 7th, 1827.

On the 2d of July following, Commander Hamilton was appointed to the Pelican 18, then in the Mediterranean; to which station he proceeded, as passenger, on board the Dartmouth frigate[1], carrying out with him the duplicate of the treaty between Great Britain, France, and Russia, for the protection of persecuted Greece.

Previous to his joining the Pelican, the subject of this sketch was sent in the Dartmouth, with a letter from Sir Edward Codrington to the commander of the Turco-Egyptian fleet, who had just arrived at Navarin, for the purpose of co-operating with Ibrahim Pacha; and we soon afterwards find him despatched, in the same ship, to the Ottoman generalissimo, on a mission of some importance. The manner in which he acquitted himself on those occasions met with the approbation of his commander-in-chief; and his subsequent endeavours in the suppression of piracy were also officially acknowledged.

After the battle of Navarin, at which he had not the good fortune to be present. Commander Hamilton watched that harbour till it was evacuated by the remains of the discomfited fleet, when he proceeded with the information to Sir Edward Codrington, at Malta. During this cruise off the Morea, be destroyed a schooner of four guns and forty men, commanded by a notorious character who had long annoyed the coast.

In Jan. 1828, the Pelican formed part of a small squadron under Sir Thomas Staines, at the destruction of several other piratical vessels, in the harbour of Carabasa, and her marines were afterwards landed to take possession of that fortress, in conjunction with those of the Isis 50. She was next placed under the orders of Captain Edmund Lyons, of the Blonde frigate, and employed in attending the second division of an Egyptian fleet, sent from Alexandria to complete the evacuation of the Morea. During the embarkation of the last part of Ibrahim Pacha’s army, in Oct. 1828, Commander Hamilton heard of his promotion to the rank of captain; but he did not give up the command of the Pelican till Dec. 1st following. Since then he has visited Greece, Asia Minor, and Constantinople, and resided some time in Italy.

this officer has six brothers and four sisters. The ejdest of the former, George Baillie Hamilton, Esq. K.C.H., entered early into the diplomatic line, and was for some time attached to the embassy in the Netherlands, under Lord Clancarty. He was afterwards, for upwards of three years, Private Secretary to Viscount Melville, when first Lord of the Admiralty; and on that nobleman’s retirement from office, in 1827, the Lord High Admiral was most graciously pleased to retain him in the same situation, but which he was soon obliged to resign on account of ill health. Since the commencement of the present reign he has been created a Knight Commander of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order, and appointed, Secretary of Legation to the British Embassy at Brussels.

The next brother in seniority, Charles John Baillie Hamilton, was for some time in the army, which profession he quitted on marrying Lady Caroline Bertie, only daughter of Willonghby, fourth Earl of Abingdon, by Charlotte, daught er and co-heiress of Admiral Sir Peter Warren, K.B.

One of his other brothers holds an official appointment at the Cape of Good Hope. Another is in the Bombay cavalry; one an officer in H.M. army; and the youngest a cadet at the Royal Naval College.

Agent.– J. Woodhead, Esq.

  1. Commanded by Captain (now Sir Thomas) Fellowes.