This is the senior male branch of the house of HAMILTON, represented in the female line by Dukes of Hamilton and Brandon.
This Roger terminated in a splendid career by founding the abbey of Preaux, in Normandy, and becoming a monk therein himself.
Of his two sons, Henry (the 2nd son), surnamed Le Neubourg, rebuilt and fortified Warwick Castle in 1076; while ROBERT, the elder, having ably contributed, as commander of the right wing of His Majesty's army, to the triumph of Hastings, obtained large possessions in England from The Conqueror (not fewer than 91 extensive manors became his); and from HENRY I, in 1103, the earldom of Leicester by his second son ROBERT, whose eldest son and successor, Robert de Beaumont, 3rd Earl of Leicester, had three sons; the youngest of whom, WILLIAM, surnamed de Hamilton, from the place of his birth, the manor of Hambledon or Hamilton, in Leicestershire, became founder of the illustrious house of HAMILTON.
having expressed himself at the court of EDWARD II in admiration of King ROBERT THE BRUCE, received a blow from John le Despencer, a favourite officer of the King; which led, the following day, to an encounter, wherein Despencer fell; and Hamilton sought security in Scotland, about 1323.
Being closely pursued, however, in his flight, he and his servant changed clothes with two woodcutters, and taking their saws, were in the act of cutting through an oak-tree when his pursuers passed by.
Perceiving his servant notice them, Sir Gilbert hastily cried out to him, "Through" ; which word, with the oak and saw through it, he took for his crest, in commemoration of his deliverance.
ROBERT, 4th Earl of Leicester;
ROGER, Bishop of St Andrew's, Chancellor of Scotland;
WILLIAM, founder of the hospital of St Leonard, Leicester.
Attaching himself to King Robert, he had divers grants of lands, amongst others, the barony of Kinneil and Cadzow (now Hamilton), in the sheriffdom of Lanark.
This nobleman having been declared by the parliament of Scotland, in 1543, heir-presumptive to the crown of that kingdom, was, in consequence thereof, appointed tutor to Queen Mary, and governor of the realm during Her Majesty's minority.
In five years afterwards, his lordship was invested with the French Order of Saint Michael; and created, by HENRY II of France, DUKE OF CHÂTELLERAULT, in Poitou.
I JAMES (1575-1618), master of Paisley, who was created, in 1603, Baron Abercorn, with remainder to his heirs male, and assigns whatever; and advanced, in 1606, to the EARLDOM OF ABERCORN, with the minor dignities of Baron Hamilton, Mountcastell and Kilpatrick, attached. His lordship was subsequently called by summons to the house of Peers in Ireland, in the same rank of earl; and by the same title; and having obtained a large grant of land in the barony of Strabane in that kingdom, erected there a strong castle, with a schoolhouse and church, and founded a town of about 80 houses. He wedded Marion, eldest daughter of Thomas, 6th Lord Boyd, and dying in 1617, left issue,
1. JAMES, 2nd Earl, of whom presently;II CLAUD (Sir), gentleman of The King's privy chamber, from whom lineally descended Lieutenant-General Sir John James Hamilton Bt, of Woodbrook;
2. CLAUD, 2nd Baron Hamilton of Strabane, who succeeded to the Irish estates, and, on the resignation of his brother, Lord Abercorn, was created, in 1634, Lord Hamilton, Baron of Strabane. His lordship married, in 1632, Lady Jane Gordon, 4th daughter of George, 1st Marquess of Huntly; and dying in 1638 left (with a daughter) two sons,
James, who succeeded as Lord Strabane, and joined Sir Phelim O'Neill against the Parliamentarians, but was unfortunately drowned in 1655. His lordship died a Roman Catholic;
George, 5th Lord Strabane, who wedded Elizabeth, daughter of Christopher Fagan, of Feltrim, County Dublin, and left, with other issue,
CLAUD, Lord Strabane, of whom hereafter, as 4TH EARL OF ABERCORN.
3. WILLIAM (Sir), dsp;
4. GEORGE, of Donalong, County Tyrone, and of Nenagh, County Tipperary, a faithful adherent of THE CHARLESES, who was rewarded with a baronetcy, in 1660. Sir George espoused Mary, 3rd daughter of Walter, Viscount Thurles, by whom he had six sons and three daughters; of the former was Anthony, the celebrated Count Hamilton, author of the Memoirs of Gramont; and the eldest of the latter was the beautiful and accomplished ELIZABETH HAMILTON, who married Philibert, Count of Gramont. Sir George's eldest son, JAMES, was a colonel in the army, and died of a wound in 1673; leaving three sons, of whom the eldest, JAMES, succeeded as 6th Earl;
5. ALEXANDER (Sir), settled in Austria, and was created a count of the Empire;
6. ANNE, married Hugh, 5th Lord Semple;
7. MARGARET, wedded Sir William Cuninghame;
8. LUCY was contracted by her father to Randal, Lord Dunluce, afterwards Marquess of Antrim; but that nobleman refusing to abide by the contract, his father, the Earl of Antrim, was obliged to pay the Earl of Abercorn £3,000 as compensation: the lady remained unmarried.
III GEORGE (Sir), of Greenlaw and Rosscrea, in Ireland, whose only daughter, Margaret, wedded Sir Archibald Acheson Bt, of Gosford, Haddingtonshire, a Lord of Session, and Secretary of State for Scotland, ancestor of the Earls of Gosford;
IV FREDERICK, who signallized himself under the banner of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden; was Gentleman-in-Ordinary to JAMES, and to CHARLES I; and obtained large grants of lands in Ireland. He wedded Sidney, daughter and heiress of the Rt Hon Sir John Vaughan, Governor of Londonderry, and had issue.
JAMES, Lord Paisley, who predeceased him, leaving an only daughter, CATHERINE, married firstly to William Lenthal; and secondly, to Charles, 5th Earl of Abercorn;
William, an officer in the army, killed in the wars in Germany, and dsp;
GEORGE, his successor.
Succeeding to the earldom of Abercorn, his lordship, in virtue thereof, took his seat, in 1706, as a member of the Scottish parliament. Ireland was, however, the usual place of his residence; and of that realm, in 1701, he was created Baron Mountcastle and Viscount Strabane.
JAMES, became 8th Earl;
John, m Harriet, dau. of the Rt Hon J Craggs, secretary of state, and had a son, JOHN JAMES, who inherited as 9th Earl;
George, Canon of Windsor, who married and had numerous issue;
JAMES, Viscount Hamilton, who died in 1814, leaving issue by Harriet, daughter of the Hon John Douglas, and granddaughter of James, 14th Earl of Morton, JAMES, who inherited the honours from his grandfather and became 2nd Marquess and 1st Duke; Claud, b 1813; Harriet, m to Capt Hamilton RN.
Catherine Elizabeth, m to George, Earl of Aberdeen.
- James Hamilton, 1st Duke (1811–1885);
- James Hamilton, 2nd Duke (1838–1913);
- James Albert Edward Hamilton, 3rd Duke (1869–1953);
- James Edward Hamilton, 4th Duke (1904-79);
- James Hamilton, 5th Duke (b 1934);
- Heir apparent: James Harold Charles Hamilton, styled Marquess of Hamilton;
- His heir apparent: James Alfred Nicholas Hamilton, styled Viscount Strabane.
- Heir apparent: James Harold Charles Hamilton, styled Marquess of Hamilton;
The Priory, Stanmore, Middlesex, was another property of the Dukes of Abercorn.
In 1852-1854, this was sold (for over £90,000) by the 2nd Marquess, afterwards 1st Duke, in order to pay off his debts and, it was said, after some deliberation over whether Baronscourt should be sold instead.
Hampden House, in Green Street, London, became the town house of the Abercorn family in 1869.
During the financial crisis which beset him at that time, and which obliged him to sell The Priory, outlying townlands in his inherited fee simple estate in Tyrone and Donegal with a rental of over £2,000 a year were sold for £51,000.
Both the composition and character of the estate changed greatly during this period.
The Abercorns were never extensive landowners in England: The Priory estate, for example, which was probably the largest English property they ever owned, produced a mere £2,750 of income per annum in 1840.
In 1797, the 1st Marquess described the Priory as "a large house, [run] at great expense, without what deserves the name of property around it".
Indeed, during the period 1868-1918, three of the 1st Duke's sons sat in parliament for English constituencies.
The 1st Marquess sold Witham, but retained his uncle's town house, and greatly extended his own house and estate at Stanmore.
Both before and after the sale of The Priory, the 1st Duke kept up a succession of London town houses:
Dudley House (Park Lane);
Chesterfield House (Audley Street);
Hampden House (Green Street), from 1869 till 1st World War.
BARONSCOURT, near Newtownstewart, County Tyrone, is one of the grandest stately homes in Northern Ireland and, indeed, further afield.
It has been in continuous use as the ancestral seat of the Hamiltons, Earls and Dukes of Abercorn, since 1780.
It affords the finest quality in detailing and craftsmanship.
Baronscourt has been associated with a number of distinguished architects and has undergone at least three periods of extensive remodelling since its construction.
It was originally designed by George Steuart; subsequently enlarged by Sir John Soane, in 1790; and again by William Vitruvius Morrison, ca 1830; taking on its current appearance only ca 1945, when the house was reduced in size by Sir Albert Richardson.As a result, the house has quite a complex plan, especially at the north side, where rooms are on a number of levels.
It is neo-classical in style, faced in ashlar sandstone; generally two-storey over a basement; with formal gardens to the front and south; and entrance elevation with a huge portico and asymmetrical pavilions to the north.
Internal refurbishment by David Hicks ca 1970 is also notable.
The main house is complemented by the lower level garage block, a detatched store and an ornate gate screen to the south.
Baronscourt is beautifully situated in an extensive demesne with formal gardens, parkland, woodland, and three loughs.
It is overlooked by the stableyard to east and has numerous ancillary structures, including a two earlier ducal residences, an 18th century classical villa, and a 17th century plantation house.
The mansion house and wider demesne are of considerable architectural, historical and significance.
Baronscourt was included and was part of the manor of Derrygoon.
The demesne lies in the townland of Barons Court, within the parish of Ardstraw, about 2½ miles south-west of Newtownstewart.
The present mansion house was originally constructed ca 1780; remodelled and extended ca 1790; and again ca 1835 and ca 1945.
The Abercorn family originally had their residence in what is now the Agent's House.
Baronscourt House was built on its present site ca 1780.
Correspondence shows that the building was complete by 1781; plans were already underway to convert the earlier house; and to carry out other improvements in the demesne.
The 8th Earl employed George Steuart as his architect.
(Sir) John Soane was employed by the 1st Marquess to remodel the house during 1791-92.
Alterations included enlarging and remodelling the house and reorienting, to create a north-facing front.
Building accounts show that these changes cost the 1st Marquess at least £14,500, or £1.8 million today.
In 1793, James Hamilton described the change as
completely metamorphosed, both as to house and grounds, as scarcely to bear a single trace of resemblance to the former appearance of either.In 1796, an accidental fire at the house gutted the main block of Soane's building, causing the loss of distinctive features.
Robert Woodgate, already at Baronscourt overseeing work for Soane, was put in charge of reconstruction between 1797-98.
Additional changes were subsequently made in 1810 by Mr Turner.
In the 1830s, considerable improvements and alterations were made to the house.
Around this time, the 2nd Marquess asked William Farrell and William Vitruvius Morrison to produce plans for remodelling. Morrison's plans were chosen.
His father, Richard Morrison, took over after his death in 1838. Remodelling cost almost £20,000 (£1.8 million today).
The house was further enlarged and a massive, pedimented port-cochere was added.
The house was given a rich neo-classical interior and a formal garden was added at this time.
The Morrisons contributed largely to the interior of Baronscourt: Greek Ionic columns, the Rotunda, and a large dining room with scagliola pilasters, were amongst the additions.
Richard Morrison's own contribution is the Palladian-Revival ceiling in the library, in 1839.
The house was subject to another fire ca 1940.
It is said that, thereafter, Sir Albert Richardson made some changes for the 3rd Duke ca 1945, including the demolition of two substantial wings.
David Hicks was commissioned to remodel the interior between 1975-6.
Woodland planting began here in 1746, when the 8th Earl sent a gardener here called James Broomfield to put down trees, and in 1751, on the opposite side of Lough Fanny, the deer park established and stocked with deer from England.
Extensive large-scale landscaping took place at Baronscourt in 1770s and 1780s as a setting for the new Steuart designed house.
Much of this work was supervised by Thomas Hudson, then the head gardener [discharged 1790].
The park with its extensive plantations, enclosing all three lakes, covered about 900 acres by the early 19th century.
In the decades following the Morrison improvements a number of garden embellishments were added near the house itself.
It is believed that thirteen gardeners alone were needed to tend this parterre, which was cleared in 1913 and replaced for many years with rather unsatisfactory island beds; eventually these, too,were removed and now only some stone balustrading survives.
This garden was formed on three terraces with terracotta balustrading and urns and a semi-circle of yew-hedges on the lowest terrace.
In the early 1990s this was restored and herbaceous borders replanted in the middle terrace.
Northwest of the house an avenue of alternating Monkey Puzzles and Lawson Cypress ‘Erecta viridis’ was planted in the 1860s, some reaching over 100 feet tall when they were removed in the 1980s.
The area was planted with Japanese maples and later; in the 1920 and 1930s, rhododendrons were placed here.
In the 1890s, the 2nd Duke created a bog garden for his wife, Mary Anna.
It was made astride a small stream between Lough Fanny and Lough Mary; bamboo inevitably took over much of this area in later years.
Around this time a second deer park was made at Baronscourt on the hills east of the demesne; it was created in imitation of Scottish Deer Parks of the time and was used mainly to stock Red Deer.
It remained in use until the 1920s.
Lying in unexpected places within some of the plantations are found old magnolias and walnuts, planted by the 3rd Duke as ‘surprise trees’.
The demesne includes many subsidiary buildings, notably the highly picturesque ‘Rock Cottage’ of c.1832, designed by Peter Frederick Robinson and located at the Largybeg Gate.
Other gate lodges by Robinson, who was probably recommended by Soane, includes the picturesque Church Lodge or ‘Devine’s Gate’ (1835) and the Newtownstewart Gate Lodge, the latter being an adoption from Robinson’s book Designs for Lodges and Park Entrances (1833).
Another lodge, ‘Moore’s Lodge’ of ca 1780 has been demolished and may have been the work of John Soane.
The demesne church lying above Lough Mary was consecrated in 1858; its grounds contain a large Celtic cross, 1885, designed by Dublin architect Walter Glynn Doolin (1819-1900) and restored in 2005.
In recent years a log-built Russian style house, designed by Richard Pierce, has been built as a retreat in the park south of the House.
The Abercorn family owns the Belle Isle estate in County Fermanagh, run by the Duke's younger son, Lord Nicholas Hamilton.
Abercorn arms courtesy of European Heraldry. First published in December, 2009.