[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]
HAMILTON, a parish in the middle ward of Lanarkshire; bounded by the parish of Bothwell on the north; by Dalziel, Cambusnethan, Dalserf, and Stonehouse on the east; by Glassford on the south and south-west; and by Blantyre on the west. For nearly 5 miles the Clyde forms the north and north-east boundary of the parish, excepting in one place where a large corner is cut off on the north side of the river. In form it is nearly a square, extending 6 miles each way, and contains 22.25 square miles, or 14,240 imperial acres. Originally the name of this parish and lordship was Cadyhou, Cadyou, or Cadzow, and the latter designation is still retained by Cadzow burn which waters the parish. The name was, however, changed from Cadzow to Hamilton in 1445, by virtue of a charter granted by James II. of Scotland to James, 1st Lord Hamilton. The parish was at that time erected into a lordship. Hamilton of Wishaw says – “This lordship was anciently the propertie of the kings of Scotland, there being severall old charters be Alexander the Second and Alexander the Third, kings of Scotland, dated ‘apud castrum nostrum de Cadichou,’ call’d afterwards the castle of Hamilton. The precise tyme when this lordship was given to the Duke of Hamilton his predicessors is not clear; but there is ane charter extant, granted by King Robert Bruce in the 7th year of his reigne, 1314, to Sir Walter the sone of Sir Gilbert de Hamilton, of this baronie and the tenendry of Adelwood, which formerly belonged to his father Sir Gilbert, and heth, without any interruption, continued in that familie since; and was long since joyned to the baronie of Bothwell by a stately bridge of four great arches over the river of Clyde, where there is a small duty payed by all passengers to the town of Hamilton, for upholding the bridge.” Along the Clyde lie extensive valleys of a deep and fertile soil. Thence the land rises gradually to the south-west, to a considerable height: in the higher parts to more than 600 feet above the level of the sea. Still it is not a hilly district, these ascents being formed of an undulating upward swell. The soil of the rising ground is mostly of a clayish nature. The lower parts of the ascent are tolerably fertile and well-cultivated; but from the nature of the soil and bottoms, it is not an early district – the higher parts often producing scanty and late crops. There are a few swampy meadows in the upper part of the parish, but with this exception, and that of the woods, it is almost entirely arable. After all, this parish is rather a beautiful than a fertile one, and according to the Old Statistical Account, “cultivation has been more successful in enriching the scenery than in multiplying the annual productions.” The district is exceedingly well-fenced and wooded, and the crops raised comprise every thing included in the usual agricultural catalogue: viz. wheat, barley, oats, beans, hay, flax, and potatoes. Orchard-produce is not cultivated here so extensively as in many parishes in Clydesdale; but there are nevertheless many large gardens in the parish, which are not only productive in themselves, but add vastly to the beauty of the landscape. There is some fine wood in the parish, particularly the “old oaks” behind Cadzow, which are scattered over a noble chase of 1,500 acres, and are supposed to have been planted by David, Earl of Huntingdon, afterwards king of Scotland, about the year 1140. Many of these trees have attained a vast size, and there is one of them called ‘the Boss tree,’ near Wood-house, which is capable of accommodating eight persons in its interior. In the glades and openings between these olden trees, nearly 80 of the ancient British breed of white cows are browsing. Their bodies are purely white, with the exception of the ears, muzzles, and hoofs, which are black; and they are perfectly safe and docile, excepting when they have young, to which they manifest a more than usual affection.1 A number of fallow-deer are kept in a field on the opposite bank of the Avon. Coal, lime, and ironstone abound in the parish. The former is most extensively worked at Quarter, about 3 miles from Hamilton. It is brought from Quarter by a railway laid along the banks of the Avon; and it is stored at Avonbridge within half-a-mile of the town of Hamilton at from 3s. 9d. to 4s. a ton, whence it is carted into the town at from 10d. to 15d. a ton. There are valuable beds of lime at Crooked-stone and Boghead in the south-west portion of the parish; and at these places also ironstone occurs below the lime, but it has not been worked. – In addition to the Clyde, this parish is watered by the AVON [which see], and nine small streamlets, six of which fall into the Avon, and three into the Clyde. The course of the Clyde has been often described, but the scenery on some parts of the banks of the Avon, after it enters the parish, at Millheugh-bridge, is almost unsurpassed in picturesque grandeur and beauty. In many places the rocks raise their bristling summits to the height of 300 feet above the bed of the streamlet, and are often crowned with majestic oaks. – The ruins of Cadzow castle stand on a lofty rock on the west bank of the Avon. It has been a ruin for two and a half centuries, and, as has been stated, some of the charters of the Scottish kings are dated from it. It is celebrated in the beautiful ballad of “Cadzow Castle,” by Sir Walter Scott. – On the eastern side of the river is seen the chateau of Chatelherault, with its red walls, its four square towers, and its pinnacles. It is understood to have been built in imitation of the citadel of Chatelherault in Poitou, about the year 1732. ”It is a sumptuous pile; but contains the odd assemblage of a banquetting-house, and a dog-kennel. It stands on a rising ground near the Avon; the banks of which river form a deep, woody dell behind it; open in many parts, and in general wider, and of larger dimensions, than these recesses are commonly found. Frequent as they are in mountainous countries, and rarely as they are marked with any striking or peculiar features, yet they are always varied, and always pleasing. Their sequestered paths; the ideas of solitude which they convey; the rivulets which either sound or murmur through them; their interwoven woods, and frequent openings, either to the country or to some little pleasing spot within themselves, form together such an assemblage of soothing ingredients that they have always a wonderful effect on the imagination. I must add, that I do not remember ever meeting with a scene of the kind which pleased me more than the wild river-views about Chatelherault.” [Gilpin’s ‘Observations,’ vol. ii. p. 66.] – In the romantic dell of the Avon are also situated the ancient terraced gardens of Barncluith, or Baron’s Cleugh, the property of Lord Ruthven. The house is situated on the top of a bold bank, with walks cut out of the rock, one under the other descending towards the river, supported by high walls, and beautified by fruit-trees of various kinds, and commands an enchanting prospect of the wooded banks of the Avon, and the delightful amphitheatre around and beyond. – The post-town of the parish is Hamilton, distant 10¾ miles from Glasgow, and 36 from Edinburgh. In this parish there are 15 miles of turnpike, and about 30 miles of parochial road.2 The great Glasgow and London road, and the Edinburgh and Ayr road pass through the parish; and upon the London road – the line of which through the town has been recently altered and improved – there is an imposing bridge over the Cadzow-burn, of three arches, of 60 feet span, and the parapet of which is 60 feet above the bed of the streamlet. There is also a new bridge over the Avon on the same line of road. Farther up the stream is an old bridge of 3 arches, said to have been built long since at the expense of the monks of the monastery of Lesmahagow. Hamilton bridge, over the Clyde, upon the Edinburgh road, has 5 arches, and was built by authority of parliament in 1780. It is burdened with a pontage for foot-passengers. Bothwell bridge, also over the Clyde, is well known to history: see BOTHWELL. The population of the town and parish was, in 1801, 5,911; in 1811, 6,453; in 1821, 7,613; and in 1831, 9,513. By a census recently taken, however, the numbers have increased to 9,822. According to the census of 1831, there were in the town 7,490 persons; in villages 500 persons, and in the landward part of the parish, 1,523. The old valued rent of the parish is £9,377 Scots; but according to the New Statistical Account, the average gross rental of the landward part of the parish is £11,537 6s. 3d., and of the burgh £8,638 4s. 7½d. Total £20,175 19s. 10d. Assessed property, £18,863. Houses, in 1831, 1,013. – This parish is situated in the presbytery of Hamilton, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. The ancient parish of Cadzow comprehended the present parish of Hamilton, in addition to the chapelry of Machan, now the parish of Dalserf. David I., with consent of his son, Earl Henry, made a grant of the church of “Cadihou,” with its pertinents, to the Bishops of Glasgow, and the grant was confirmed by the bulls of several Popes. The church of Cadihou was afterwards constituted a prebend of the Cathedral church of Glasgow, by John, the Bishop of that see; and his successor, Herbert, granted to the dean and canons the lands of Barlanerk and Badlernock, in augmentation of the prebend. Long before the Reformation, however, the chapelry of Machan was erected into a separate parish by the name of Dalserf, but the rectory of the parish-churches of Hamilton and of Dalserf continued to belong to the prebend of the dean of Glasgow down to the epoch of the Reformation. When the church was erected into a prebend, a vicarage was instituted for serving the cure. In 1589, the king granted to James, Earl of Arran, and his heirs male, the right of patronage of the deanery of Glasgow with the parsonage of the churches of Hamilton and Dalserf; and this part was ratified to the Earl’s nephew, James Marquis of Hamilton, in 1621. The patronage of the collegiate church of Hamilton – which has been recently uncollegiated – has ever since remained in the noble house of Hamilton. At the period of the charge being made collegiate in 1451, James, Lord Hamilton, built a fine Gothic church, with a choir, two cross aisles, and a steeple; and this continued the parish-church down till 1732, when a new church was built, and the old one removed, with the exception of the aisle, which contains the burying vault of the family of Hamilton. For further particulars of the ecclesiastical state of the parish, see BURGH OF HAMILTON.
As has been stated, the old Scottish kings held their courts at Cadzow castle, which continued to belong to the Crown till after the battle of Bannockburn; and the district has occasionally been the scene of important events in the history of the kingdom. In the times of trouble, Hamilton was a sort of headquarters of the Covenanters, and the majority of the inhabitants were devotedly attached to the cause. In the winter of 1650 Cromwell despatched General Lambert and Commissary-general Whalley to Hamilton, with five regiments of cavalry, for the purpose of keeping the Covenanters of the district in check, or of seducing them over to his own views. They were attacked by a party of 1,500 horsemen from Ayrshire, under Colonel Kerr, and a great number of horses fell into the hands of the Covenanters; but Lambert having rallied his forces, attacked the Covenanters in turn, at a spot 2 miles from Hamilton, killed Colonel Kerr, with about 100 of his men, and took a great number of prisoners. In June 1679 Graham of Claverhouse, when upon his way to the field of Drumclog, seized, near the town of Hamilton, John King, a field-preacher, and 17 other persons, whom he bound in pairs and drove before him in the direction of Loudon hill. After their success at Drumclog, the Covenanters marched to Hamilton, and resolved upon an attack on Glasgow, but, as is well-known, they were severely repulsed, after which they again retired to Hamilton, where the more moderate portion of the body drew up the document which afterwards obtained the name of, ‘the Hamilton declaration,’ and the purport of which was to deny any intention of overturning the government, to forbear all disputes and recriminations in the meantime, and to refer all matters to a free parliament and a general assembly lawfully chosen. This proposition was scouted by the violent party, and their guard being attacked in the night-time, near Hamilton ford, one of their number, named James Clelland, was killed. After the disastrous battle of Bothwell Brig, the fugitives fled in all directions through the parish, and Gordon of Earlstone, who had reached the parish with a body of men under his command from Galloway, met his vanquished brethren near Quarter, at which place he was killed. About 1,200 men were taken prisoners in the parish by the king’s troops; and it is well-known that many of the persecuted ‘hill folk’ only escaped death by hiding in Hamilton woods. For this safety they were much indebted to the amiable and generous Anne, Dutchess of Hamilton, who begging of the Duke of Monmouth, the commander, that the soldiers might not be permitted to enter her plantations, the request was immediately complied with, and thus many lives were saved which, but for her interference, would have been sacrificed. – The parish contains, or lately contained, the ruins of many old edifices, whose pristine glory has long since departed, among which may be named Silverton-hill, Earnock, Ross, Motherwell, Nielsland, Barncluith, Allanshaw, Damgaber, (‘the house between the waters,’ the foundations of which can now scarcely be traced,) Edlewood, Mirritoun, and Udstoun, which were formerly seats of different scions of the house of Hamilton. Cadzow castle – formerly alluded to – still remains an interesting ruin, though time has left no record of its erection. The keep of the castle, with the fosse around it, a narrow bridge over the fosse, and a well in the interior, are still in a fair state of preservation. They are constructed of a reddish coloured polished stone. Some vaults, walls, and other remains are yet visible. – There is a Roman tumulus in the parish, near Meikle-Earnock, about 2 miles from Hamilton. It is 8 feet high, and 12 feet in diameter. When broken up many years ago, a number of urns were found containing the ashes of human bones, and amongst them the tooth of a horse. There was no inscription seen; but some of the urns – which were all of baked earth – were plain, and others decorated with moulding, probably to mark the quality of the deceased. – In the haugh, in the vicinity of the palace of Hamilton, an ancient moat-hill or seat of justice is pointed out. It is about 30 feet diameter at the base, and 15 feet high, and is evidently a construction of great antiquity. – The celebrated Dr. Cullen was a native of this parish, having been born in it April 15, 1710. He was a magistrate of Hamilton for a number of years. Lord Cochrane, now the Earl of Dundonald, spent many of his younger years in the parish; and the father of the late Professor Millar of Glasgow was one of the parochial clergymen, as was also the father of the late Dr. Bailie of London, and his celebrated sister Joanna.
The Ducal house of Hamilton being so intimately connected with this parish and district, a short sketch of its history may not be uninteresting. This illustrious family is said to be descended from Sir William de Hamilton, one of the sons of William de Bellomont, 3d Earl of Leicester Sir William’s son, Sir Gilbert Hamilton, having spoken in admiration of Robert the Bruce, at the court of Edward II., received a blow from John de Spencer, who conceived the discourse was derogatory to his master. This led, on the following day, to an encounter in which Spencer fell, and Hamilton fled for safety to Scotland in 1323. Having been closely pursued in his flight, Hamilton and his servant changed clothes with two woodcutters, and, taking the saws of the workmen, they were in the act of cutting an oak-tree when his pursuers passed. Perceiving his servant to notice them, Sir Gilbert cried out to him ‘ Through!” which word, with the oak and saw through it, he took for his crest in remembrance and commemoration of his escape. He afterwards became a favourite with Robert Bruce, and from an old manuscript it appears that he was one of seven knights who ‘kept the king’s person’ in the field of Bannockburn, and afterwards continued with him till his death, and attended his burial at Dunfermline. Sir Walter, de Hamilton, the son of Sir Gilbert, acquired the lands of Cadzow, in the sheriffdom of Lanark, and others; and from him was descended, in the fifth degree, Sir James Hamilton of Cadzow, who was the first peer of the family. He was originally attached to the powerful family of Douglas, and was an important adherent of the Earl of that name, when in 1455 that nobleman took the field in open rebellion against his sovereign. Sir James, however, deserted from Douglas to the king, almost upon the eve of a battle, upon which the chances appeared as much in favour of the subject as the sovereign, and his example being followed by others, the army of Douglas rapidly disappeared, and ruin came upon his once potent house. For this notable service Sir James was created a lord of Parliament, and he also obtained a grant, dated 1st July, 1455, of the office of sheriff of the county of Lanark, and subsequently grants of extensive territorial possessions. He married for his second wife, in 1474, Mary, eldest daughter of King James II., and widow of Thomas Boyd, Earl of Arran. Dying in 1479 he was succeeded by his only son, James, second Lord Hamilton, who obtained a charter of the lands and earldom of Arran in 1503. This nobleman was constituted lieutenant-general of the kingdom, warden of the marches, and one of the lords of the regency in 1517. He was succeeded by his son James, the second Earl, who had only, betwixt him and the throne, Mary daughter of James V., and afterwards Queen of Scots. In 1543 he was declared heir-presumptive to the Crown, and was appointed guardian to Queen Mary, and governor of the kingdom during her minority. He was mainly instrumental in bringing about the marriage of the youthful princess to the Dauphin, in opposition to the wishes of Henry VIII. of England; and in token of his approval of these services, the French king – Henry the Second – conferred upon him the title of Duke of Chatelherault, in addition to a pension of 30,000 livres a-year. He continued to take an active part in public affairs till his death in 1575, when he was succeeded in the earldom of Arran by James his eldest son, the dukedom of Chatelherault having been resumed by the French crown. This nobleman, upon the arrival of Queen Mary, in 1561, openly aspired to the honour of her hand, but having opposed the enjoyment of the Queen’s exercise of her religion, and having entered a protestation against it, he entirely lost her favour. His love, inflamed by disappointment, gradually undermined his reason, and at last he broke out into ungovernable frenzy. He was in consequence declared by the cognition of inquest to be insane, and the estates of his father devolved upon his brother, Lord John Hamilton, commendator of Aberbrothock, who, in 1567, was one of those who entered into an association to rescue Queen Mary from the castle of Lochleven, and upon her escape she fled to his estate of Hamilton, and there held her court. From thence she proceeded to Langside where her forces were defeated by the Regent Murray. The castle of Hamilton was besieged and taken, and Lord John went into banishment. The fealty of this nobleman to his unhappy Queen never swerved for a moment; and so well aware was she of his fidelity that one of her last acts was to transmit to him a ring – which is still preserved in the family – through the medium of an attendant. He was recalled by James VI., restored to the family-estates, and created, in 1599, Marquis of Hamilton. Dying, in 1604, he was succeeded by his only son, James, 2d Marquis, who also obtained an English peerage by the titles of Baron of Ennerdale in Cumberland, and Earl of Cambridge. He died in 1625, and was succeeded by his eldest son, James, 3d Marquis, who was created Marquis of Clydesdale, and in 1643 Duke of Hamilton, and received a grant of the hereditary office of keeper of Holyrood palace. He warmly espoused the cause of King Charles I., and promoted ‘the engagement’ to raise troops for the service of his sovereign. As is well-known, he was defeated at the battle of Preston, where he was made prisoner, and being brought to trial by the same court by which the king had been condemned, he was found guilty of having levied war upon the people of England, and suffered decapitation in Old Palace-yard on 9th March, 1649. His Grace was succeeded by his brother, William, the 4th Marquis, and 2d Duke, who had previously been elevated to the peerage as Lord Macanshire and Polmount, and Earl of Lanark. The duke was mortally wounded in the cause of Charles II. at the battle of Worcester, and by Cromwell’s act of grace, passed in 1654, he was excepted from all benefit thereof, and his estates forfeited, reserving only out of them £400 a-year for his dutchess for life, and £100 to each of his four daughters and their heirs. His Grace’s own honours fell under the attainder, and his English dignities expired, but the Dukedom of Hamilton, in virtue of the patent, devolved upon his niece, the eldest daughter of James, the first Duke. Lady Anne Hamilton, Dutchess of Hamilton, introduced the Douglas name into the family by marrying Lord William Douglas, eldest son of William, first Marquis of Douglas, and she obtained by petition for her husband, in 1660, the title of Duke of Hamilton for life. His Grace had previously been elevated to the peerage as Earl of Selkirk. This peer sat as president of the convention parliament, which settled the crown upon William and Mary. He died in 1694, and was succeeded by his eldest son, James, Earl of Arran, who, upon the Dutchess, a few years afterwards, surrendering her honours, became then, by patent, Duke of Hamilton, with the precedency of the original creation of 1643, in the same manner as if he had originally inherited. He was created an English peer in 1711, as Baron of Datton in the county of Chester, and Duke of Brandon in the county of Suffolk; but upon proceeding to take his seat in the House of Lords it was objected, that by the 23d article of the Union, “no peer of Scotland could, after the Union, be created a peer of England;” and the house came to this resolution after a protracted debate. The Duke having accepted a challenge from Charles, Lord Mohun, fought that nobleman in Hyde Park on 15th November, 1712, and having slain his opponent fell himself, through the treachery, as was suspected, of General Macartney, Lord Mohun’s second, for whose apprehension a reward of £500 was subsequently offered. Macartney eventually surrendered and was tried in the court of king’s bench in June 1716, when he was acquitted of the murder, and found guilty of manslaughter. His Grace was succeeded by his son, James, 5th Duke of Hamilton and 2d Duke of Brandon, who died in 1742-3, and was succeeded by his eldest son, James, the 6th Duke, who died in 1758. He was succeeded by his son James George, the 7th Duke, who succeeded to the Marquisate of Douglas and Earldom of Angus, upon the demise, in 1761, of Archibald, the last Duke of Douglas. The guardians of his Grace asserted his right and laid claim to the Douglas estates, upon the ground that Mr. Stewart, son and heir of Lady Jane Stewart, sister of the Duke of Douglas, was not her son, and this led to a most unwonted legal contest, ending in the defeat of the Hamiltons, and known as the celebrated Douglas cause: See Note to article DOUGLAS. His Grace died unmarried in 1769, and the honours devolved upon his brother Douglas, the 8th Duke, who, in 1782, again brought up the point decided against his predecessor, the 4th Duke, relative to his right to a seat in the house of lords; after the opinion of the judges had been taken, he obtained a resolution in his favour, and was consequently summoned to the house of lords as Duke of Brandon. He died in 1799 without issue, and the title and estates reverted to his uncle, Archibald, the 9th Duke of Hamilton and 6th Duke of Brandon, eldest son, by his third wife, of James 5th Duke of Hamilton. Archibald died on 16th February, 1819, and was succeeded by Alexander Hamilton Douglas, the 10th and present Duke. The Duke of Chatelherault still finds a place in the roll of titles belonging to the family, as it was never formally abandoned by them, but it is not now legally recognised either in this country or in France. Many honourable families of the name of Hamilton have sprung from the junior branches of this noble house. It is the premier peerage of the kingdom, and its possessors have acted a conspicuous part in all the stirring incidents in Scottish history. Both from this cause and from the circumstance that, failing the Brunswick line, it is the next Protestant branch of the royal family in succession to the Crown of Scotland, the title carries with it much of the respect and veneration of the country.
HAMILTON, a town in the middle ward of Lanarkshire, and capital of the parish of that name, is situated in the centre of a pleasant and fertile agricultural district, abounding in minerals. It is 10¾ miles from Glasgow; 15 from Lanark; 7 from Strathavon; 8 from Airdrie; and 36 from Edinburgh; and lies on the great London mail-road from Glasgow by Carlisle, and also on the road from Edinburgh to Ayr. It is understood to date its existence from the 15th century, and its early rise was no doubt owing to the influence of the noble family of Hamilton. Hamilton of Wishaw says – “In the tyme of King James the Second, James Lord Hamilton erected here ane burgh of baronie in the midst of ane large and pleasant valley, extending from the mouth of Aven to Bothwell bridge, near 2 myles along the river, with a pleasant burn, called Hamilton burn, running through the town and gardens, now belonging to the duke; giving out severall lands to the inhabitants to be holden of the family, reserving to themselves the superioritie, jurisdiction, and nameing of the magistrates. This Lord Hamilton also founded here ane provostrie, consisting of ane provest and eight prebends, giving to each of them ane manse and yeard, and glebe in the Haugh of Hamilton; and gave them the vicarage tiends of the parishes of Hamilton and Dalserfe, together with severall lands lying within those two parishes and the parish of Stonehouse. He also built new the parish kirk of Hamilton, the queere and two cross isles and steeple, all of polished stone.” No doubt therefore exists that the town owes its origin to the family of Hamilton. The situation is a very pleasant one, in a richly wooded country, on the left bank of the Clyde, and it is partly surrounded by the park of Hamilton palace. The town consists of a new and an old part, the latter of which lies on the low grounds close upon the palace, and considerable portions of it have been recently bought up, and are now untenanted, to preserve the amenity and seclusion of the Ducal domain. The new part of the town, which is intersected by the great Glasgow and London road, is built with considerable regard to taste and ornament, and occupied by inhabitants of a very respectable kind. Formerly this road took an inconvenient sweep through the old or lower part of the town; but, by the recent improvement, this bend has been removed. Hamilton is a burgh-of-regality governed by a provost, three bailies, and a town-council. The territory of the regality is very extensive, and the magistrates exercise the same jurisdiction, both in civil and criminal cases, as the magistrates of royal burghs. The sheriff-court for the middle ward of the county, and the quarter-sessions for the peace are held here. The greater part of the burgh-territory is in possession of the Duke of Hamilton, but it still derives a considerable revenue from its feu-duties and other property. By the census of 1831, there were 1,036 houses in the burgh and parish, and according to the estimate of the Parliamentary commissioners, made at a more recent period, there were 300 of these rated at £10 and upwards. Hamilton presents the anomaly of having been at one time a royal burgh, and of having afterwards denuded itself of its status and privileges. The earliest charter of the burgh in the possession of the town-council is dated 23d October, 1475, and was granted by James Lord Hamilton. It recognises the burgh as a then existing burgh-of-regality, and grants to the community and bailies certain lands, and the common muir, a considerable portion of which is still retained by the burgh. The next charter was granted by Queen Mary, on 15th January, 1548, and by it Hamilton was erected into a royal burgh with certain privileges; but it would appear that two bailies, named James Hamilton and James Naismith, agreed to resign that privilege in 1670, by accepting of a charter from Anne, Dutchess of Hamilton, by which she constituted the town the chief burgh of the regality and dukedom of Hamilton. Long subsequent to this, in 1726, the then magistrates and inhabitants made an effort to throw off the superiority of the Hamilton family, and resume their long disused rights as a royal burgh; but the charter of Dutchess Anne was found to be the governing one, by the Court of Session, in an action of Declarator of the privileges of Hamilton, as a royal burgh, to the free choice of its magistrates. The court sustained the defence of the Duke of Hamilton, that the privileges of the burgh had been lost by prescription. It was not, therefore, till the passing of the Reform bill, in 1832, that the inhabitants were invested with the privilege of sharing in the election of a member of parliament: the burgh being associated for this purpose with Lanark, Falkirk, Linlithgow, and Airdrie. The revenues of the burgh are derived from lands, houses, flesh-market dues, customs, interest on shares in bridge, feu-duties, &c, and, according to the report of the Parliamentary commissioners, amounted, in 1832, to £654 per annum. In 1839-40, it amounted to £715 5s. 2½d. At the same period the debt due by the burgh “amounted to £2,000, the larger portion of which had been mortified with the magistrates more than 100 years ago.
Although the Ducal palace has rendered Hamilton somewhat fastidious and aristocratic in its pretensions, yet it is a place not without manufactures. Since the introduction of the cotton trade into Scotland, it has been one of the principal seats of imitation cambric weaving, and employs about 1,200 looms within the town, and a few in the country. But although, about 50 years ago, this trade was a most flourishing one, it has of late been considerably on the decline. The old lace manufacture was introduced or encouraged by the Dutchess of Hamilton, afterwards Dutchess of Argyle, but it also had almost entirely dwindled away, until resuscitated by a company about twelve years ago, and it has since gone on increasing. Upwards of 2,500 females are engaged in this manufacture in Hamilton and the adjacent parishes, and a number of black silk veils are also produced here, in addition to check shirts for the foreign colonial market.3 Formerly the fairs at Hamilton were of considerable importance for the sale of lint and wool, and, about 1750, large quantities of yarn were sent from this town to the north of Ireland, but the Irish have long since learned to make yarn for themselves, and this market, of course, is entirely closed up. From this cause the fairs, of which there were five in the year, have dwindled into insignificance. In addition to those named, there is a manufactory of hempen goods, for making bags and such other purposes, a manufactory of agricultural implements, a foundery, and a few breweries. Hamilton contains within itself all the elegancies and conveniencies of civilized life, and, from the existence of the cavalry barracks – which are situated at the Glasgow entrance to the town, and generally occupied by a troop from the regiment lying in Glasgow – it has often an appearance of considerable gaiety and bustle. In 1831 gas was introduced, by subscription shares, at an expense of £2,400, and when burned by meter it is sold at the rate of 10s. per 1,000 cubic feet. In 1816, a spacious trades’-hall was erected in Church-street; and in June, 1833, the foundation-stone of the new prison and public offices was laid, which have since been completed and occupied. These consist of apartments for the sheriff-clerk, town-clerk, a court-room, a hall for county-meetings, and the prison and governor’s house. The prison contains 43 cells, and is surrounded by a high wall, enclosing also a large open court, or airing yard, half an acre in extent. These buildings stand in the west end of the town near the cavalry barracks. There is a debt of about £1,200 upon them. The old prison was erected in the reign of Charles I., but has now been dismantled with the exception of the steeple and clock. It was situated in the lower or olden portion of the town immediately adjoining the park wall of Hamilton palace.
The ecclesiastical state of the town has been briefly noticed in the foregoing account of the parish. The name of the original parish is the Old Church parish of Hamilton. The church is rather a handsome one, and was designed about 100 years ago, by the elder Adams, for 800 sitters. Till July 1835, the original parish was a collegiate charge. At that time, however, it was uncollegiated, quoad sacra, by the presbytery of Hamilton, and, in 1836, was divided by the same authority into two parishes, quoad sacra, the new parish receiving the name of St. John’s. Patron, the Duke of Hamilton. Stipend of minister of the Old church £313 13s. 10d. There is no manse, but in lieu of one, together with an allowance in name of rent for glebe, the minister receives £107 10s. annually from the Duke of Hamilton. – St. John’s, the new parish-church, was built by the Hamilton National Church association at a cost of £1,630, and was opened in 1835. It is seated for 1,100 persons. Stipend £313 13s. 10d. Patron, the Duke of Hamilton. There is a manse, but no glebe, and no provision in lieu thereof. – The first Relief congregation was established in 1776, when the church was built, which is seated for 1,105. There is a manse built in 1832, at the cost of £717, and an excellent walled garden. The stipend is £185 per annum. – The second Relief congregation was established in 1831, and their church, seated for 945, was erected at an expense of £1,300. Stipend £120 per annum without manse or glebe. – The first United Secession congregation was established in 1759, and the church built in 1761, for 582 sitters. Stipend £100 per annum, with house and garden. – The second United Secession congregation was established in 1799, and the church is seated for 656 sitters. Stipend £130 per annum, without manse or glebe. – The Independent congregation was established in 1834, and their place of meeting is seated for 230. Stipend £100 per annum, without manse or glebe. – There is also an old Scotch Independent congregation, established about 60 years since, the numbers of which are very limited, and the pastors have no emoluments. The Reformed Presbyterians also meet regularly in the town. The Catholic population are superintended by a priest from Glasgow. – Hamilton is well-known for the excellence of its educational establishments, and, in addition to the parochial or grammar-school, there are many private seminaries conducted with considerable ability. The salary of the parochial master is £34 4s. per annum, and it is understood that his fees are not less than £50, in addition to £30 for officiating as session-clerk. The school-house is a venerable erection near the centre of the town, containing a long wainscotted hall, upon which are graven the names of the former scholars, many of whom have distinguished themselves in their several walks in the world. In 1808. a public subscription library was instituted in the town principally through the exertions of the late Dr. John Hume, and it now contains more than 3,000 volumes. The charitable institutions belonging to the town and parish are of a very respectable order. The Duke’s hospital is an old building, with a belfry and bell, situated at the Cross, and erected in lieu of the former one, which stood in the Netherton. The pensioners do not now reside here; but it contributes to the support of a dozen old men, at the rate of £8 18s. yearly, with a suit of clothes biennially. Aikman’s hospital in Muir-street, was built and endowed in 1775, by Mr. Aikman, a proprietor in the parish, and formerly a merchant in Leghorn. Four old men are here lodged, have £4 per annum, and a suit of clothes every two years. Rae’s, Robertson’s, and Lyon’s, and Miss Christian Allan’s mortification also produce considerable sums for the support of the poor, and some other funds have been placed at the disposal of the kirk-session for the mitigation of distress.
To the stranger, however, the great object of attraction about Hamilton is the palace of the premier Duke, situated in the immediate neighbourhood, with the enchanting grounds, laid out in lawn, woods, and gardens, stretching far away around and beyond it. The germ of this magnificent structure was originally a small square tower, and the olden part of the present house was erected about the year 1591. The structure was almost entirely rebuilt or renewed more than a century afterwards. The present Duke – whose architectural taste is well known – commenced a series of additions in 1822, which have entirely altered the character of the building, and though scarcely yet completed, promise to make it one of the most magnificent piles in the kingdom, and not inferior to the abode of royalty itself. “The modern part consists of a new front, facing the north, 264 feet 8 inches in length, and 3 stories high, with an additional wing to the west for servants’ apartments, 100 feet in length. A new corridor is carried along the back of the old building, containing baths, &c. The front is adorned by a noble portico, consisting of a double row of Corinthian columns, each of one solid stone, surmounted by a lofty pediment. The shaft of each column is upwards of 25 feet in height, and about 3 feet 3 inches in diameter. These were each brought in the block, about 8 miles from a quarry in Dalserf, on an immense waggon constructed for the purpose, and drawn by 30 horses. The principal apartments, besides the entrance-hall, are, the tribune, a sort of saloon or hall, from which many of the principal rooms enter; a dining-room, 71 by 30; a library and billiard-room; state bed-rooms, and a variety of sleeping apartments; a kitchen, court, &c. The gallery, 120 feet by 20, and 20 feet high, has also been thoroughly repaired. This, like all the principal rooms, is gilded and ornamented with marble, scagliola, and stucco-work. The palace stands close upon the town, on the upper border of the great valley, about half-a-mile west of the conflux of the Clyde and Avon. As a curious statistical fact we may state, that there were employed in building the addition to the palace 28,056 tons, 8 cwt., and 3 quarters of stones, drawn by 22,528 horses. Of lime, sand, stucco, wood, &c., 5,534 tons, 6 cwt., 1 quarter, 7½ lbs., drawn by 5,196 horses. In drawing 22,350 slates, 62,200 bricks, with engine-ashes, and coal-culm to keep down the damp, 731 horses were employed. Total days, during which horses were employed for other purposes, 658½. In the stables there are 7,976 tons of stones, drawn by 5,153 horses. Of lime, sand, slates, &c., 1,361 tons, drawn by 1,024 horses; besides 284 days of horses employed for other purposes.” [New Statistical Account, July 1835.] The interior furnishings of the palace are, in every sense of the word, well worthy of its magnificent and imposing exterior, and here, in many instances, in the case of the cabinet and other furnishings, the triumph of art is so conspicuous that it may be truly said the “workmanship surpasses the material.” The collection of paintings in the picture-gallery, which has been vastly increased by the present Duke, has been long allowed to be the finest in North Britain, and it may not be out of place to name a very few out of many that are rare and excellent. Daniel in the lions’ den has been often described. The portraits of Charles the First, in armour on a white horse, and of the Earl of Denbigh in a shooting dress, standing by a tree, with a black boy on the opposite side pointing to the game, are allowed to be master-pieces by Vandyke. An Ascension-piece, by Georgione; an entombment of Christ, by Poussin; a dying Madona, by Corregio; a stag-hunt, by Sneyder; a laughing-boy, by Leonard de Vinci; and a faithful portrait of Napoleon, by David, painted from the original, by permission granted to the present Duke, are admitted to be rare specimens of art and value. Upon the east staircase is a large altar-piece, by Girolamo dai Libri, from San Lionardo nel Monte, near Verona; and, in the breakfast-room is a picture by Giacomo da Puntormo, of Joseph receiving his father and brethren in Egypt; and a portrait of Artonelli of Mycena, said to have been the first painter in oil, date 1474. The great gallery, saloons, and principal rooms, contain a collection of splendid family-portraits, and other paintings, by many of the first masters, among whom may be named Vandyke, Kneller, Rubens, Corregio, Rembrandt, Guido, Titian, the Carracei, Salvator Rosa, Carlo Dolce, Poussin, Spagnoletti, Reynolds, &c. In the principal apartments are placed some splendid vases, rare of their kind, both for their antiquity and beauty. There are also some beautiful antique cabinets, studded with precious stones; in particular, a casket of ebony, ornamented with gold bronze, and oriental stones, which formerly belonged to the Medici family. At the extremity of the gallery is the ambassadorial throne, used by the present Duke in his embassy at St. Petersburgh: on each side are two magnificent busts of oriental porphyry, of the Roman emperors, Augustus and Tiberius, and upon the walls are two excellent portraits of George III. and his queen, Charlotte, painted soon after their marriage. At the opposite end of the gallery is a splendid architectural door of black marble, the pediment being supported by two oriental columns of green porphyry, supposed to be the finest of the kind in Europe. The pieces of painting amount to more than 2,000, about 100 of which are at Chatelherault, and it is impossible to affix with any degree of exactitude a value to this mine of artistical wealth. The prints in his Grace’s possession, few or none of which are exhibited to strangers, are understood to be worth not less than £15,000. Some of the cabinets are valued at from £1,500 to £2,000; and a single table, with all its ornamental gildings and carving, has been set down at £4,000. The value of the plate, including a gold set, is not less than £50,000. Altogether the halls of Hamilton palace, for beauty and costliness of ornament and furnishing, are unrivalled in Scotland.
1 For n description of this fine breed of cattle, see article CUMBERNAULD. See also a paper by the Rev. W. Patrick in ‘Quarterly Journal of Agriculture,’ vol. ix.
2 It has been proposed to form a railway, from the termination of the Pollock and Govan railway at Rutherglen, to the town of Hamilton. This railway would be led under the Blantyre road by a tunnel 130 yards in length and would cross the Rotten Calder water by a viaduct. The distance from Glasgow by this line, would be 10 miles 39 chains. Mr. Locke adopts this line as the commencement of the Clydesdale line of railway between Glasgow and Carlisle. This line would be led by a viaduct 32 chains in length, through the town of Hamilton; and at 7 miles’ distance from Hamilton would cross the Nethan water by a viaduct 850 feet in length, and 232 feet in extreme height; it would approach within a mile of Lanark, and enter Dumfries-shire near the Clyde’s Nap. The remaining part of its course to Carlisle – a distance from Hamilton of 90 miles 35 chains – is traced in a note to our article DUMFRIES-SHIRE.
3 A few years ago, a company in Nottingham established an agent in Hamilton, to procure a number of women to ornament bobbin-net with the tambouring needle. Previous to that time their whole attention had been directed to the same kind of work upon muslin; and there was so much difficulty in removing the prejudices which they entertained against the lace-work, that even a third more wages could not induce the greater part of them to embrace that which was to be so essential to their present and future interests. Mr. John Gowan, a man of considerable enterprise, commenced manufacturing caps of various shapes and patterns, collars, tippets, pelerines, veils, and dresses, &c. The variety and elegance of the patterns, the chasteness and delicacy of design, the superiority and beautiful arrangement of the work, took with the public; and, in a short time, not only every town and village in Scotland was supplied with goods of the above description, but they were eagerly bought up, and sent into the English market. The goods made in Hamilton not only excelled those of the English in neatness of make and lowness of price, but rivalled even those of the French when compared in the American market. As the embroidering of bobbin-net continued still to increase, that of muslin seemed gradually to decline; the transparency and durability of the ground, and the lively figures with which it was ornamented, attracted the notice of ladies of the first rank in the country to its use; their example was soon followed by the other classes of the community, and, as an article of dress, in a short time it became almost universal. The commercial affairs of the country were now beginning to wear a gloomy aspect, when the attention of several individuals was keenly directed to the manufacturing those articles; and some of them entering into it with ardour, it happened that Hamilton, amidst the dreadful and unparalleled distress of the country, suffered little comparatively speaking. This novel trade gave employment to a great proportion of its females; while their industry and good sense preserved many a family from undergoing those privations which were generally experienced elsewhere.