Thursday, 20 January 2022

1st Earl of Clanbrassil

THE REV HANS HAMILTON (1536-1608), Vicar of Dunlop, Ayrshire, said to have derived from a common ancestor with the DUKES OF HAMILTON, wedded Margaret Denham, daughter of the Laird of Weshiels, and had, with other issue,
ARCHIBALD, ancestor of ROWAN-HAMILTON of Killyleagh.
The elder son,

SIR JAMES HAMILTON (c1560-1644), Knight, of Killyleagh and Bangor, both in County Down, Sergeant-at-law, Privy Counsellor to JAMES I, was created, in 1622, Viscount Claneboye.

Of this gentleman Dr King, on his Essay on Men and Morals, remarked that
During the reign of ELIZABETH I, JAMES VI, King of Scotland, sent James Fullerton and James Hamilton, afterwards Lord Claneboye, to Ulster, to keep up a correspondence with the English nobility, and secure his interest there, when Her Majesty should die.
His lordship wedded firstly, Ursula, daughter of Edward, Lord Brabazon, of Ardee; and secondly, Jane, daughter of Sir John Phillips Bt, of Picton Castle, Pembrokeshire.

He was succeeded by his only son,

JAMES, 2nd Viscount (c1618-59), who, with his father, was a great supporter of CHARLES I, and maintained a regiment of foot and a troop of horse for eight years, at their own expense, for which his estate was seized by Cromwell, and continued for six and a half years under sequestration, the whole profits thereof, during that time, being received by him.

James, 1st Earl of Clanbrassil, Photo Credit: The National Trust

At length he was included among the Protestants with whom the Protector capitulated for their return, living peaceably at home, and admission to their estates, upon such composition that Parliament should think fit.

His lordship was advanced to an earldom by CHARLES II, in 1647, in the dignity of EARL OF CLANBRASSIL, County Armagh; and his son Henry, in 1661, had a grant of the annual rent charge reserved on the territory of Dufferin.

He wedded the Lady Anne Carey, eldest daughter of Henry, 2nd Earl of Monmouth, and had issue,
James, Viscount Claneboye (1642-58);
HENRY, of whom presently;
His lordship was succeeded by his second son,

HENRY, 2nd Earl (c1647-75), who married, in 1667, the Lady Alice Moore, daughter of Henry, 1st Earl of Drogheda; but dying without issue, all the family honours expired

Henry, 2nd Earl of Clanbrassil, Photo Credit: The National Trust

THE earldom, however, was revived for a kinsman,

JAMES HAMILTON (1694-1758), of Dundalk, County Louth, and Tollymore Park, County Down, MP for Dundalk, son and heir of James Hamilton, of Tollymore, County Down, by Anne his wife, daughter of John, 1st Viscount Mordaunt, and youngest sister of Charles, 3rd Earl of Peterborough, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1719, in the dignities of Baron Claneboye and Viscount Limerick.

His lordship was advanced to the dignity of an earldom, in 1756, as EARL OF CLANBRASSIL (second creation).

He wedded, in 1728, the Lady Harriet Bentinck, third daughter of William, 1st Earl of Portland, and had issue,
JAMES, his successor;
ANNE, of whom hereafter;
Caroline, died unmarried in 1762.
His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

JAMES, 2nd Earl (1730-98), of Dundalk and Tollymore Park, MP for Helston, 1768-74, who espoused, in 1774, Grace, daughter of Thomas, 1st Baron Foley; but died without issue, in 1798, when all the honours expired.

His lordship's sister, Anne, Countess of Roden, inherited the family estates.


The life and career of James Hamilton is well documented.

Hamilton was the eldest son of Hans Hamilton (1535/6–1608) and Jonet (or Janet), daughter of James Denham, laird of West Shield in Ayrshire.

His father Hans was a protestant minister.

He was probably the James Hamilton who studied at St Andrew's University and received a BA in 1584 and an MA in 1585.

He acquired a reputation as "one of the greatest scholars and hopeful wits in his time" and became a teacher at Glasgow.

In about 1587 he left Scotland by ship and, due to storms, unexpectedly arrived in Dublin.

He decided to stay and took up the position of master at the Free School in Ship Street. He employed a fellow Scot, James Fullerton, as usher.

One of their pupils was eight-year-old James Ussher, later Archbishop of Armagh.

It was stated that Hamilton had "a noble spirit ... and learned head". Hamilton became bursar of Trinity in 1598.

In 1602, the Gaelic chieftain Conn O'Neill sent his men to attack English soldiers after a quarrel and was consequently imprisoned.

O'Neill's wife made a deal with the Scots aristocrat, Hugh Montgomery, to give him half of O'Neill's lands if Montgomery could get a royal pardon for O'Neill.

Montgomery obtained the pardon but, in August 1604, Hamilton discovered the plan for the land.

Sir James Fullerton, now a knight and an adviser to King James, convinced the King that the lands were too large to be split in two and should be divided into three, with one third going to his associate Hamilton.

The King agreed.

Hamilton's main grant, made formally in November 1605, was the lordship of Upper (South) Clandeboye and the Great Ardes in County Down.

The Nine Years War in Ireland had ended in 1603, and Hamilton and Montgomery both recruited tenants from the Scottish lowlands to migrate to Ulster to farm their newly-acquired lands for low rents.

They persuaded members of their extended families to come and, in May 1606, the first group of farmers, artisans, merchants and chaplains arrived to form the Ulster-Scots settlement, four years before the Plantation of Ulster in 1610.

The settlement was a success and Hamilton was knighted by the king at Royston in 1609.

By 1611, a new town of eighty houses had been established at Bangor, County Down, where Hamilton lived.

Hamilton was elected a member of parliament for County Down in 1613; repaired the Bangor Abbey Church in 1617; was created Viscount Clandeboye in 1622.

Ca 1625, he moved from Bangor to Killyleagh Castle.

In 1641, when in his eighties, he returned to his Scottish home town of Dunlop and built a mausoleum to his parents in the church-yard where his father had been minister.

He erected a school attached to the mausoleum which he named Clandeboye School. Both buildings still stand.

Hamilton died, aged about 84, on 24th January, 1644, and was buried in the church at Bangor.

He was succeeded as 2nd Viscount by his only son James, who was also created EARL OF CLANBRASSIL in 1647.

His grandson, Henry Hamilton, 3rd Viscount, died in 1675 with no sons when the titles became extinct.

Another James Hamilton (d 1758), 1st Earl of Clanbrassil of the 2nd creation, held the office of MP for Dundalk, 1715-19. 

Created Baron Claneboye and Viscount Limerick on 13th May 1719; was member of the Common Council for the province of Georgia in 1733; MP for Wendover, 1735-41; MP for Tavistock, 1741/42-47; Privy Counsellor, 1746; MP for Morpeth, 1747-54; Governor of County Louth between 1756-58.

He was created 1st Earl of Clanbrassil, of County Armagh, in 1756.

James [Hamilton] (1730-98), 2nd Earl, KG KP PC, was Sheriff of County Louth in 1757; Chief Remembrancer of the Court of Exchequer [Ireland], 1757-98; Governor of County Louth, 1758-98; succeeded to the Earldom on St Patrick's Day, 1758; was a Privy Counsellor; MP for Helston, 1768-74; Custos Rotulorum of County Louth, 1769 and 1798.
He was invested as a Knight of the Order of the Garter on 5 February 1783; Founder Member of the Order of St Patrick.

On his death at Dundalk, County Louth, the titles became extinct.

The family seat was Tollymore Park in County Down.

Former seats ~ Dundalk, County Louth; Tollymore Park, County Down; Egham, Surrey.

Clanbrassil arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  First published in January, 2012.

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