James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Abercorn

James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Abercorn, KG, KP, PC (21 January 1811 – 31 October 1885), styled Viscount Hamilton from 1814 to 1818 and known as the Marquess of Abercorn from 1818 to 1868, was a British Conservative statesman who twice served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

The Duke of Abercorn

James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Abercorn.jpg
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
In office
13 July 1866 – 1 December 1868
Prime MinisterThe Earl of Derby
Benjamin Disraeli
Preceded byThe Lord Wodehouse
Succeeded byThe Earl Spencer
In office
2 March 1874 – 11 December 1876
Prime MinisterBenjamin Disraeli
Preceded byThe Earl Spencer
Succeeded byThe Duke of Marlborough
Personal details
Born(1811-01-21)21 January 1811
Westminster, Middlesex, England
Died31 October 1885(1885-10-31) (aged 74)
Baronscourt, Tyrone, United Kingdom
Political partyConservative
m. 1832)
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford

Background and educationEdit

Born at Seymour Place, Mayfair, on 21 January 1811, Abercorn was the son of James Hamilton, Viscount Hamilton, himself the eldest son of John Hamilton, 1st Marquess of Abercorn. His mother, Harriet, was the second daughter of the Hon. John Douglas, himself the son of James Douglas, 14th Earl of Morton. His father died when Abercorn was only three. In 1818, aged seven, he succeeded his grandfather in his titles and estates.[1] He was educated at Harrow School and Christ Church, Oxford,[2] where he matriculated on 2 July 1829.[3]

Political careerEdit

James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Abercorn
Shield of arms of John Hamilton, 1st Duke of Abercorn, KG, PC

Abercorn was first appointed a deputy lieutenant of County Tyrone,[4] where he had a family seat at Baronscourt. On 13 November 1844, Lord Abercorn was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Donegal.[2][4] The next month, on 12 December 1844, he was made a Knight of the Garter at the relatively young age of 33.[5][4]

Abercorn was appointed Groom of the Stole to Prince Albert on 8 February 1846, and shortly thereafter, on 25 February 1846, was made a Privy Counsellor. He served as Groom of the Stole until June 1859,[4] and remained a prominent figure in the royal court for the next two decades. He received two honorary degrees during this period, becoming an LL.D. of Cambridge on 5 July 1847,[6][4] a DCL of Oxford on 4 June 1856.[7] From 11 April 1855 to 22 September 1860, he was honorary colonel of the Donegal Militia, and on 18 February 1860, was commissioned a captain in the newly raised London Scottish Rifle Volunteers.[4]

On 6 July 1866, he was appointed Viceroy of Ireland,[5][4] under the third ministry of Lord Derby. He retained the post after Derby resigned in February 1868 and Benjamin Disraeli took the reins of the ministry. On 10 August 1868, he was created Marquess of Hamilton and Duke of Abercorn in the Peerage of Ireland. Around this time, he received his third honorary degree, an LL.D. from Trinity College, Dublin.[5][4] After Gladstone and the Liberals won the 1868 general election, Abercorn resigned the Lord-Lieutenancy on 14 December.[5][4]

After the formation of the second Disraeli ministry, Abercorn was again appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland on 2 March 1874,[4] and was also chosen Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, a post he held until his death.[8] He resigned the Lord-Lieutenancy again on 6 December 1876,[4] partly on account of his wife's ill health.

Abercorn was Envoy-Extraordinary for the investiture of King Umberto I of Italy with the Order of the Garter on 2 March 1878. He was elected Chancellor of the University of Ireland in 1881, and died four years later at his home of Baronscourt, County Tyrone on 31 October 1885.[5] He is buried in the cemetery at Baronscourt Parish Church, the traditional burial place of the Dukes of Abercorn and their families.[9]

Family and childrenEdit

Abercorn married Lady Louisa, second daughter of John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford, in 1832.[1] They had fourteen children, thirteen of whom survived infancy:

Abercorn died in October 1885, aged 74, and was succeeded by his eldest son, James. The Duchess of Abercorn died in March 1905, aged 92.



  1. ^ a b Dod, Robert P. (1860). The Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage of Great Britain and Ireland. London: Whitaker and Co. p. 80.
  2. ^ a b Cokayne 1910, p. 8.
  3. ^ Foster, Joseph (1888–1892). "Hamilton, James (6)" . Alumni Oxonienses: the Members of the University of Oxford, 1715–1886. Oxford: Parker and Co – via Wikisource.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Doyle 1886, p. 2.
  5. ^ a b c d e Cokayne 1910, p. 9.
  6. ^ "Hamilton, James, Marquess of Abercorn (HMLN847J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  7. ^ Foster 1888, p. 594.
  8. ^ Waite, Arthur Edward (2007). A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. vol. I. Cosimo, Inc. p. 400. ISBN 1-60206-641-8.
  9. ^ Baronscourt Parish Church


External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Kimberley
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Succeeded by
The Earl Spencer
Preceded by
The Earl Spencer
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Succeeded by
The Duke of Marlborough
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Marquess of Donegall
Lord Lieutenant of Donegal
Succeeded by
The Duke of Abercorn
Preceded by
The Earl of Leitrim
Custos Rotulorum of Donegal
Court offices
Preceded by
The Marquess of Exeter
Groom of the Stole to Prince Albert
Succeeded by
The Earl Spencer
Masonic offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Leinster
Grandmaster of the Grand Lodge of Ireland
Succeeded by
The 2nd Duke of Abercorn
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
John Hamilton
Marquess of Abercorn
Succeeded by
James Hamilton
Peerage of Ireland
New creation Duke of Abercorn
Succeeded by
James Hamilton