Richard Hamilton (officer)

Richard Hamilton PC (Ire) (c. 1650 – 1717) was an officer in the French and the Irish army. In France he fought in the War of the Reunions (1683–1684). In Ireland he fought with the Jacobites during the Williamite War, rising to the rank of lieutenant-general. He defeated the Protestants of Ulster at the Break of Dromore and the Cladyford. He was commander-in-chief during part of the siege of Derry, and fought valiantly at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, where he was taken prisoner. In April 1692 he was exchanged for Lord Mountjoy. He died in French exile.

Richard Hamilton
Bornc. 1650
DiedDecember 1717
AllegianceJacobite army
Battles/warsWilliamite War in Ireland
RelationsGeorge Hamilton of Donalong (father)
Anthony Hamilton (brother)

Birth and originsEdit

Richard was born about 1649, just before his family fled to France in 1651.[1][2] The place of his birth probably was his father's house in Roscrea, County Tipperary, Ireland.[3] He was one of the nine children[4][5] and the fifth of the six sons of George Hamilton and his wife Mary Butler. His father was Scottish, the fourth son of James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Abercorn, and founder of a cadet branch of the Abercorns. His father would in 1660 be created baronet of Donalong and Nenagh.[6][a]

His mother was Irish, the third daughter of Thomas Butler, Viscount Thurles, and a sister of the future 1st Duke of Ormond.[8][9][b] His mother's family, the Butler dynasty, was Old English and descended from Theobald Walter, who had been appointed Chief Butler of Ireland by King Henry II in 1177.[10] His parents had married in 1629.[9]

Family tree
Richard Hamilton with parents and other selected relatives. He never married.
1st Earl


d. 1632
2nd Earl

d. 1670
H. of

d. 1638
1st Bt.

c. 1608 –

d. 1680
d. 1676
d. 1687
R. N.
d. 1691
c. 1630 –

d. 1709
c. 1645–
c. 1649 –
6th Earl

c. 1661 –

d. 1754
d. 1692
after 1662 –
7th Earl

XXXEarls of
Earls 3 to 5 are not shown. Earl 3 descends from Earl 2. Earls 4 & 5 descend from Claud Hamilton of Strabane. This family tree is partly derived from the Abercorn pedigree pictured in Cokayne.[11] Also see the list of siblings in the text.

Both his parents were Catholic, but some relatives on his father's as on his mother's side were Protestants. His grandfather, James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Abercorn, was a Protestant, but his father and all his paternal uncles were raised as Catholics due to the influence of his paternal grandmother, Marion Boyd, a recusant.[22] Some branches of the Hamilton family were Protestant, such as that of his father's second cousin Gustavus (1642–1723), who would become the 1st Viscount Boyne. His mother's family, the Butlers, were generally Catholic with the notable exception of the future 1st Duke of Ormond, his maternal uncle. His eldest brother, James, would turn Protestant when marrying Elizabeth Colepeper in 1661,[23] and his son, also called James Hamilton, would fight on the other side during the Siege of Derry. His brother Thomas seems to have made the same choice as he became a captain in the Royal Navy.[24]

Irish wars and first French exileEdit

His father was a soldier in the Irish army and fought for the royalists under his uncle James Butler, the Earl of Ormond, in the Irish Confederate Wars (1641–1648) and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland (1649-1653) until early in 1651, when his family followed Ormond into French exile.[1] They first went to Caen[25] where they were accommodated for some time by Elizabeth Preston, the Marchioness of Ormond. From there his mother went to Paris where she lived in the convent of the Feuillantines together with her sister Eleanor, Lady Muskerry, the wife of Donough Maccarty, 2nd Viscount Muskerry, later Earl Clancarty.[26]

Restoration (1660–1667)Edit

He and his family returned to London in 1660 after the English Restoration. Their Irish estates were returned to them and his father was created Baronet Donalong in 1660 by Charles II. However, the king refused to go further than that because the family was Catholic.[citation needed]

In French serviceEdit

Wanting to be a soldier and unable to take the oath of supremacy obligatory in the English army, Richard followed the example of his elder brothers George and Anthony and went into French service. In 1671 he was commissioned into the regiment that George had raised. This regiment fought for France in the Franco-Dutch war (1672–1678). He must have fought with George under Turenne in the battles of Sinsheim on 16 June 1674, and Entzheim on 6 October.[27] At Entzheim his brothers George and Anthony were wounded.[28] George's and Anthony's wounds and the voyage to England, described below, undertaken by the three brothers, caused them to miss Turenne's winter campaign 1674/1675, during which the French marched south and surprised the Imperialists by launching a surprise attack on Upper Alsace, which culminated in Turennes's victory at the Battle of Turckheim on 5 January 1675.[29]

In March 1675 Richard visited England with his elder brothers George and Anthony. George returned to France from England, but Anthony and Richard continued to Ireland to recruit for the regiment.[30] The recruits were picked up by French ships at Kinsale in April[31] after a missed appointment at Dingle in March.[32]

In 1676 George was killed in a rearguard action at the Col de Saverne.[13][33]

In 1678 Richard succeeded Thomas Dongan as the regiment's colonel, but the unit was disbanded later that year. He then joined a French regiment that he commanded for over six years. This seems to have been the Roussillon Regiment, according to a remark in a letter from Louvois to d'Avaux.[34]

Either Anthony or Richard played one of six zephyrs in the performance of Quinault's ballet the Triomphe de l'Amour, to music by Lully, on 21 January 1681 at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye before the king.[35][36][37][38]

In the War of the Reunions (1683–1684), Richard commanded the Altmünster sector in the Siege of Luxembourg in 1684 under Maréchal de Créquy.[39]

In March 1685 he was obliged to leave France after a bitter disagreement with Louvois, the minister of war, over the state of his regiment and a brawl with the Marquis d'Alincourt [fr] over the Princess de Conti, Louis XIV's recently widowed daughter.[40]

In Irish serviceEdit

Having returned to England, he was made a colonel of a regiment of Irish dragoons by James II on 20 June 1685. He was promoted to brigadier in April 1686, making him the third most senior officer of the Irish Army after Tyrconnell and Justin McCarthy, Viscount Mountcashel.[41] In May 1686 he was appointed to the privy council of Ireland. He went to England with the Irish troops that Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell, viceroy (Lord Lieutenant) of Ireland, sent to help James when the king's position became precarious in the build-up to the Glorious Revolution and was promoted to major-general on 12 November 1688.[42] These troops should have helped to defend the south coast of England against the imminent Dutch invasion. They caused the Irish Fright in December 1688. They surrendered to the Prince of Orange and were disbanded after James's flight.[43] Richard Hamilton was jailed at the Tower of London.[44]

William, the Prince of Orange, wanted to bring Ireland around to his side by proposing favourable terms to Tyrconnell. He thought to have found a suitable messenger in Richard Hamilton. He freed him from the Tower and sent him to Ireland on parole. Hamilton landed in Ireland in January 1689 and met Tyrconnell in Dublin. However, instead of trying to convince the viceroy to accept William's offer, Hamilton joined the Jacobites and urged Tyrconnell to reject William's terms.[45] An investigation into his hehaviour later found a witness who had observed Hamilton in a tavern in Ringsend near Dublin just after Hamilton had landed in Ireland. This witness reported that Hamilton had laughed loudly and had boasted how well he had deceived the Prince of Orange.[46]

Tyrconnell promoted him to lieutenant-general and sent him to Ulster at the head of a force of 2500 to put down the Protestant rebellion there. He in effect routed Sir Arthur Rawdon's Protestant Army of the North in the battle called the Break of Dromore on 14 March 1689 in County Down and then continued northwards into County Antrim where he raided Antrim Castle and took Viscount Massereene's silverware and furniture to a value of about £3000, a considerable amount at the time.[47]

He then marched on to Coleraine, which he reached on 27 March.[48] In the meantime James II had landed in Ireland (on 12 March) and had sent Lieutenant-General de Rosen, the French commander-in-chief, up north with an army. The two armies linked up near Strabane on the march to Londonderry. The commanders were both lieutenant-generals, but de Rosen had been appointed Marshal of Ireland for the duration of the campaign. Nevertheless, Hamilton did not want to submit to de Rosen. Lundy, the governor of Londonderry tried to defend the so-called fords along the River Finn south of the city. On 15 April 1689 Richard Hamilton attacked at Clady. The Duke of Berwick was with him.[49] De Rosen broke through the enemy's line of defence in a separate action near Lifford. Lundy fled to the city.[50]

The siege of the town began on 18 April. James and de Rosen returned to Dublin and left Lieutenant-General Jacques de Fontanges, comte de Maumont,[51] in command. However, Maumont was killed during a sally on 21 April and the command devolved to Hamilton, who lacked experience in sieges. De Rosen came back from Dublin to Derry in June. The siege was finally abandoned after 105 days on 31 July 1689. Richard Hamilton retreated with the army southwards.

At the Battle of the Boyne, on 1 July 1690, Hamilton commanded the centre of the Irish army, defending the ford at Oldbridge.[52] He was wounded and taken prisoner. He was interrogated by William who asked him whether his men will continue to fight. Hamilton answered "On my honour, Sir, I believe that they will". Thereupon William twice mutters "Your honour!", reminding him of his broken parole.[53][54] Hamilton was detained as a prisoner of war for about two years, first in Dublin, then at Chester Castle, and finally at the Tower of London.

Final French exileEdit

In April 1692 he eventually was freed by being exchanged for Lord Mountjoy.[55][56] Having arrived in France he went to Versailles to thank Louis XIV for his liberation.[57]

He took service in King James's exile army. In 1692 he served as lieutenant general under Marshal Bellefonds in the forces that assembled at Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue and should have been carried over the Channel by the French Fleet to land on the Isle of Portland and march on London from there. However, that fleet was intercepted by the English and Dutch and was defeated in several actions at Barfleur and La Hougue between the 19 and 24 May 1692, after which the invasion had to be cancelled. In 1696 he became James's master of the robes in addition to lieutenant-general.[58] He lost his employment as soldier when King James's force was dissolved after the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697, in which France recognised William III as the rightful King of England. James II died in 1701 at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye and was succeeded by his son James Francis Edward Stuart, called James III or the Old Pretender. Louis XIV recognised him as James III of England.

In March 1708, during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714), he was involved in an attempt to invade Scotland led by James III.[59] Hamilton was among the about 6000 troops that were assembled at Dunkirk and which comprised six French regiments and the Irish Brigade. These troops were transported by a French fleet commanded by Admiral Claude de Forbin and consisting of 5 men-of-war, two transports and 20 frigates, many of which were Dunkirk privateers. They sailed from Dunkirk up to the Firth of Forth intending to land near Edinburgh, but a stronger British fleet under Admiral George Byng caught up with them. They had to abandon the landing, but Forbin outmaneuvered the British, escaped northwards, and brought the invasion force safely back to Dunkirk by sailing around Scotland and Ireland.

In 1713, Hamilton was implicated in a scandal in which he had plotted to usurp Lord Middleton's position as James's secretary of state. He was chased from James III's court and went to live with his niece Marie-Elisabeth de Gramont, daughter of his sister Elizabeth, Countess de Gramont, at Poussay in the Duchy of Lorraine, at that time still part of the Empire. Marie-Elisabeth was a canoness of the Chapter of Poussay [fr], where she had been elected abbess in 1695.[60] He died in Poussay in December 1717.[61][62][63]


  1. ^ The creation of the baronetcy "Hamilton of Donalong and Nenagh" seems to have been deficient. It is in the baronetage of Ireland according to the 31st (1869)[7] but in the baronetage of Scotland according to the 99th (1949)[6] edition of Burke's Peerage.
  2. ^ Walter, Viscount in the 31st (1869) edition[7] seems to be a mistake and Thomas in the 99th (1949) edition[6] of Burke's Peerage is right.
  1. ^ a b Clark 1921, p. 5: "In the spring of 1651 took place, at last, the event which had such a determining influence on the fate of the young Hamiltons. Sir George Hamilton left his country for France with his family ..."
  2. ^ Wauchope 2004, p. 888, right column, line 10: "... he [Richard Hamilton] was taken to France as an infant, where he was brought up until the Restoration, when his family moved to Whitehall."
  3. ^ Ó Ciardha 2009, p. 411, left column, line 7: "HAMILTON, richard (d. 1717) Jacobite army officer, was probably born at his father's house in Roscrea, Co. Tipperary ..."
  4. ^ Debrett 1816, p. 92, line 17: "He [Richard's father] m. Mary, 3d daughter of Thomas, Viscount Thurles, son of Walter, 11th earl of Ormond and sister of James, duke of Ormond, and had issue 6 sons and 3 daughters, ..."
  5. ^ a b Burke 1949, p. 3: "George (Sir), 1st Bt of Donalong, co. Tyrone and Nenagh, co. Tipperary created baronet of Scotland about 1660; m (art. dated 2 June 1629) Mary 3rd dau. of Thomas Viscount Thurles, and sister of the 1st Duke of Ormonde. He d. 1679. She d. Aug 1680, ..."
  6. ^ a b c Burke 1949, p. 3, right column, line 1: "George (Sir) of Donalong, co. Tyrone, and Nenagh, co. Tipperary, created a baronet of Scotland, about 1660;"
  7. ^ a b Burke 1869, p. 2, right column, bottom: "George (Sir) of Donalong, co. Tyrone, and Nenagh, co. Tipperary, created a baronet of Ireland, in 1660, for his services to the royal cause."
  8. ^ Burke 1869, p. 2, right column, penultimate line: "Sir George m. Mary, 3rd dau. of Walter, Viscount Thurles and sister of James 1st Duke of Ormonde, ..."
  9. ^ a b Burke 1949, p. 3, right column, line 2: "... [George] m. (art. dated 2 June 1629) Mary 3rd dau. of Thomas Viscount Thurles and sister of the 1st Duke of Ormonde. He d. 1679. She d.Aug 1680, ..."
  10. ^ Debrett 1828, p. 640: "THEOBALD LE BOTELER on whom that office [Chief Butler of Ireland] was conferred by King Henry II., 1177 ..."
  11. ^ Cokayne 1910, p. 4: "Tabular pedigree of the Earls of Abercorn"
  12. ^ Burke 1949, p. 3, right column, line 6: "James Col. ... he d.v.p. of a wound received in a naval engagement with the Dutch, 6 June 1673 and was buried in Westminster Abbey."
  13. ^ a b c Sergeant 1913, p. 217: "At the beginning of June he took part in the battle of Zebernstieg and was engaged in covering the French retreat on Saverne when he was killed by a musket-shot."
  14. ^ Burke 1869, p. 3, left column, line 29: "Elizabeth, the beautiful and accomplished wife of Philibert, comte de Grammont; she d. 1708."
  15. ^ Burke 1949, p. 3, right column, line 17: "Anthony, the celebrated Count Hamilton, author of 'Mémoires de Grammont', Lieut.-Gen. in the French service, d. 20 April 1719, aged 74."
  16. ^ Burke 1869, p. 3, left column, line 25: "Thomas, in the sea service; d. in New England."
  17. ^ Clark 1921, p. 74: "[Thomas Hamilton] rendered James no small service in capturing, off the west coast of Scotland, some of the ships which the Earl of Argyle had equipped to aid Monmouth in his rising."
  18. ^ Sewall 1878, p. 176: "May 9 [1687]. Hamilton, Capt. of the Kingsfisher dies."
  19. ^ Burke 1869, p. 3, left column, line 27: "John, Colonel in the army of James II., killed at the battle of Aughrim."
  20. ^ Burke 1869, p. 3, left column, line 31: "Lucia, who married Sir Donogh of Lamineagh, Bart"
  21. ^ Burke 1869, p. 3, left column, line 33: "Margaret, m. to Mathew Forde, Esq. of Seaforde."
  22. ^ Metcalfe 1909, p. 234: "Her husband had been a staunch Protestant, an elder in the Kirk, and a member of the General Assembly. During his lifetime she had evidently conformed; but after his death she had evidently relapsed."
  23. ^ Clark 1921, p. 16: "James Hamilton's marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Colepeper ... took place as early as 1660 or 1661. As the lady was a Protestant, James Hamilton left the Church of Rome shortly before his marriage, to the great sorrow and anger of his devout mother ..."
  24. ^ Clark 1921, p. 13: "... Thomas, Anthony's junior had entered the Navy in 1666 or earlier."
  25. ^ Millar 1890, p. 177, left column: "Marquis of Ormonde, whom he followed to Caen in the spring of 1651 with his wife and family."
  26. ^ Clark 1921, p. 8: "... when his mother and his aunt, Lady Muskerry, had an apartment at the Couvent des Feuillantines in Paris ..."
  27. ^ Sergeant 1913, p. 213: "In 1674 he [George] was engaged in two desperate struggles between Turenne and the Duke of Bournonville, at Sintzheim on June 16th and at Entzheim on October 6th, on both occasions playing a distinguished part in Turenne's victory."
  28. ^ a b Clark 1921, p. 54: "George and Anthony were both wounded."
  29. ^ Clark 1921, p. 55, line 31: "Turenne defeated them at Mulhouse on the 29th of December and at Turckheim on January 5th. George and Anthony did not, however, take part in these operations ..."
  30. ^ a b Clark 1921, p. 56, line 10: "He [George Hamilton] left in the very beginning of March [1675], but Anthony was put in charge of the difficult expedition, and with him was his younger brother Richard, who must have entered the French service some time before."
  31. ^ Clark 1921, p. 56, bottom: "All in a sudden, in the first week of April, the French ships arrived unexpectedly in Kinsale."
  32. ^ Clark 1921, p. 56, line 31: "Hamilton expected the French ships on the 8th of March but they did not appear."
  33. ^ Clark 1921, p. 63: "Near Saverne Lorraine [i. e. the duke of L.] attacked his rear-guard, commanded by George Hamilton, but was driven back in a fierce combat, in which Hamilton and his regiment fought with all possible bravery, though the Imperialists spread a report that all the English and Irish in the French service had surrendered. In the moment of victory George Hamilton fell."
  34. ^ Macaulay 1855, p. 198: "Si c'est celuy qui est sorti de France le dernier, qui s'appelloit Richard, il n'a jamais veu de siège, ayant toujours servi en Rousillon."
  35. ^ Parfaict 1756, p. 538: "Zéphyrs. M. le Prince de la Roche-sur-Yon, M. de Vermandois, Messieurs les marquis d'Alincourt, de Moy et de Richelieu, M. le Comte de Hamilton."
  36. ^ Wauchope 2004, p. 888, right column, line 20: "... and in 1681 [Richard Hamilton] danced before Louis XIV as a zephyr in Quinault's ballet Le triomphe de l'amour at St Germain-en-Laye."
  37. ^ Rigg 1890, p. 135 right column, middle: "He [Anthony Hamilton] appeared as a zephyr in the performance of Quinault's ballet, the 'Triomphe d'amour,' at St. Germain-en-Laye in 1681.
  38. ^ Corp 2004, p. 766, right column, bottom: "During this period he [Anthony] appeared alongside the dauphin as a zephyr in Lully's ballet Le triomphe de l'amour, which was given twenty-nine performances in the Château de St Germain-en-Laye in January and February 1681."
  39. ^ a b Dangeau 1854, p. 22: "Dimanche 4 [June 1684] - le maréchal de Créqui mandoit que le samedi matin les ennemis avoient battu la chamade à l'attaque du vieux Munster, où Hamilton était de garde;"
  40. ^ La Fayette 1731, p. 193: "on l'avoit chassé de la cour, par ce qu'il s'étoit rendu amoureux de la princesse de Conti, fille du Roi ..."
  41. ^ Wauchope 2004, p. 888, right column, line 31: "He was made a colonel of dragoons on the Irish establishment by James II on 20 June 1685, and in April 1686 he was promoted to brigadier, making him (after Tyrconnell and Justin MacCarthy) the third most senior member of the Irish army."
  42. ^ Wauchope 2004, p. 888, right column, line 39: "... where he was promoted to major-general on 12 November 1688 by James."
  43. ^ Chichester 1890, p. 203: "Hamilton arrived in England with the troops sent over by Tyrconnell on the rumour of a Dutch invasion, and which were disbanded by William of Orange after James's flight."
  44. ^ Childs 1987, p. 16: "Colonel Richard Hamilton, an Irish catholic, was confined to the Tower of London on 31 December 1688 and his regiment was entrusted to Lieutenant-Colonel John Coy ..."
  45. ^ Chichester 1890, p. 204: "and Hamilton, forgetting his pledges, actively abetted him."
  46. ^ a b HMC 1889, p. 189, line 20... broke out into loud laughter, saying he could not forbear it, thinking how finely he had shammed the Prince of Orange.
  47. ^ O'Laverty 1884, p. 264: "After the break of Dromore Colonel Skeffington abandoned Antrim Castle, which was occupied by a detachment of the troops of the Jacobite General Richard Hamilton. They seized Lord Massereene's plate ..."
  48. ^ Doherty 2008, p. 50: "Richard Hamilton's army reached Coleraine on 27 March."
  49. ^ a b FitzJames 1778, p. 47: "De là nous marchâmes, le 15 Avril, au pont de Clady, sur la rivière de Strabane, dont les Rebelles, au nombre de dix mille, vouloient défendre le passage ..."
  50. ^ Wauchope 2004, p. 889, left column, line 7: "At the battle of the Fords (15 April) de Rosen and Hamilton made separate attacks on Lundy's positions on the rivers Finn and Foyle and forced Lundy's troops back to the city."
  51. ^ Bouillet 1848, p. 82: "Cette branche a produit Jacques de Fontanges, comte de Maumont, lieutenant-général des armées."
  52. ^ Chichester 1890, p. 204, left column, lower third: "His conspicuous bravery in the fight at the Boyne is admitted by writers of all parties."
  53. ^ Story 1693, p. 84: "His Majesty asked him, Whether the Irish would fight any more? Yes, (said he) an't please your Majesty upon my Honour I believe they will, for they have a good Body of horse still. The King look'd a little aside at him when he named his Honour, and repeated it once or twice, Your Honour: Intimating (as He always says a great deal in a few Words) that what the other affirmed upon his Honour was not to believed, since he had forfeited that before ..."
  54. ^ Macaulay 1855, p. 634: "'Is this business over?' he said; 'or will your horse make more fight?' 'On my honour, Sir' answered Hamilton 'I believe that they will!' 'Your honour!' muttered William; 'Your honour!'"
  55. ^ Dangeau 1854, p. 431: "Vendredi 16 [November 1691] - Le roi a consenti à l'échange de Milord Mountjoye, Irlandois, avec Richard Hamilton, frère de la comtesse de Gramont."
  56. ^ a b Clark 1921, p. 108: "In April of the next year, 1692, he [Richard Hamilton] was at last allowed to go to France and was there exchanged for Lord Mountjoy."
  57. ^ Dangeau 1855, p. 72: "Vendredi 7 à Versailles [Mai 1692] - Richard Hamilton a salué le roi qui l'a très-bien reçu; il étoit prisonnier du Prince d'Orange et a été échangé contre Milord Montjoy; il s'en va trouver le roi d'Angleterre et servira de lieutenant-général dans son armée."
  58. ^ a b Chichester 1890, p. 204, right column: "At Calais in 1696, in the hope of some attempt at restoration, James appointed him a lieutenant-general of his forces and master of the robes."
  59. ^ a b Luttrell 1857, p. 282: "Besides the French general officers on board, he [James Francis Edward Stuart] had with him 4 of his own country, viz. Dorington, Richard Hamilton, Skelton and Galmoy;"
  60. ^ Gaspard 1871, p. 42: "Marie-Elisabeth de Grammont fut élue le 6 janvier 1695, les bulles sont du 9 de novembre de la même année. Elle est fille de Philibert, comte de Grammont, vicomte d'Aster, commandeur des ordres du roi, et d'Elisabeth d'Hamilton d'Albercorne."
  61. ^ a b Dangeau 1859, p. 216: "Richard Hamilton est mort à Poussay, chez sa nièce l'abbesse, fille de la feue comtesse de Gramont, soeur de Richard."
  62. ^ Saint-Simon 1874, p. 210: "En même temps mourut aussi Richard Hamilton. ... sa demeure était Saint-Germain. Il alla mourir à Poussay, chez sa nièce, qui étoit abbesse, pauvre elle-même, mais moins pauvre que lui, pour ne pas mourir de faim."
  63. ^ Wauchope 2004, p. 889: "... and died at the convent in his late sixties, a bachelor, in December 1717"


Military offices
Preceded by
The Lord Langdale
Colonel of Hamilton's Regiment of Horse
Succeeded by
John Coy