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Richard Hamilton (officer)

Richard Hamilton (c.1655 - December 1717) was an Irish military officer who served as part of the Jacobite Irish Army during the Williamite War.

Richard Hamilton
Bornc. 1655
DiedDecember 1717
AllegianceJacobite Army
Battles/warsWilliamite War in Ireland
RelationsGeorge Hamilton of Donalong (father)
Anthony Hamilton (brother)


Richard was a younger son of George Hamilton of Donalong, an Irish baronet, who in turn was a younger son of James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Abercorn. One of his elder brothers was the playwright Anthony Hamilton.[1] While he was still an infant, the family moved to France and stayed there until the Restoration. When his family returned to England, he settled at Whitehall.[2]

In 1671 he was commissioned into a regiment raised by his brother George for service in France, and in 1678 he succeeded Thomas Dongan as the regiment's colonel, but it was disbanded later that year and he joined a French regiment, which he commanded for over six years. He was said to have been popular in the French court and in 1681 was documented as putting on a performance in front of Louis XIV as a zephyr at Saint-Germain-en-Laye in Quinault's ballet Le Triomphe de l'amour.[2] In March 1685 he departed from the French service after a bitter disagreement with the minister of war over the state of his regiment and after a brawl with the Marquis d'Alincourt [fr], fighting for the affections of the Princess de Conti, Louis XIV's recently widowed daughter.[2]

After returning to England, he was made a colonel of dragoons of Ireland by James II on 20 June 1685. He was promoted to brigadier in April 1686, making him the third most senior member of the Irish Army. In May 1686 he was appointed to the privy council of Ireland. He was promoted to major-general on 12 November 1688.[2]

In early 1687, James II appointed Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell to the position of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. When word of the Glorious Revolution (November 1688) arrived in Ireland, many Protestants hostile to Tyrconnell immediately declared their support for William of Orange. William dispatched Colonel Richard Hamilton to Tyrconnell to request his surrender, thinking that Hamilton would be a useful intermediary as a fellow Catholic. Hamilton instead urged Tyrconnell to reject William's terms and joined Tyrconnell's side.[2] Upon landing at Ringsend in January 1689 he was reported to have gone straight to a tavern, where he ‘broke out into loud laughter, saying he could not forbear it, thinking how finely he had shammed the Prince of Orange’.[2] He was promoted to Lieutenant-General and immediately marched through Ulster at the head of a Catholic army seizing Protestant towns. He engaged and defeated Sir Arthur Rawdon's Army of the North in the battle called the Break of Dromore on 14 March 1689. He raided Antrim Castle with his men and took Viscount Massereene's silver plate and other silverware and furniture up to a value of £3000, a considerable loss at the time.[3] In the meantime James II had landed in Ireland on 12 March. He then moved on to Londonderry where he arrived the 18 April and opened the siege of the town that lasted until the 28 July 1689.

At the Battle of the Boyne, on 1 July 1690, Hamilton commanded the right wing of the Irish army, defending the ford at Oldbridge.[2] He was taken prisoner and kept first in Dublin and then, after 1 April 1691, at Chester Castle.[2] In April 1692 he was exchanged for Lord Mountjoy and left for France, arriving in Versailles.[2] There he served under Marshal Bellefonds in King James's forces that should have invaded England. However the defeat of the French fleet at Barfleur and La Hougue in 19–24 May 1692 made the invasion impossible.[2]

Hamilton became active in the exiled Jacobite court and in 1696 he became James's master of the robes.[2] In March 1708 they attempted to invade Scotland but the attack was aborted.[2] In 1713, Hamilton was implicated in a scandal in which he had plotted to usurp Lord Middleton as secretary of state and in destitution later went to live with his niece, the abbess of the convent of St Marie, Poussay where he lived a life of piety and died in December 1717.[2]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Richard Hamilton". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  3. ^ O'Laverty, James (1884). An historical account of the diocese of Down and Connor, ancient and modern. p. 264. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
Military offices
Preceded by
The Lord Langdale
Colonel of Hamilton's Regiment of Horse
Succeeded by
John Coy