HAMILTON, James, 2nd Earl of Clanbrassill [I] (1730-98), of Dundalk, co. Louth.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1768 - 1774

Family and Education

b. 23 Aug. 1730, o. surv. s. of James, 1st Earl of Clanbrassill, M.P., by Lady Henrietta Bentinck, da. of William, 1st Earl of Portland. m. 21 May 1774, Grace, da. of Thomas Foley, s.p. suc. fa. 17 Mar. 1758.  K.P. 5 Feb. 1783.

Offices Held

Chief remembrancer of the court of Exchequer [I] 1757- d.; P.C. [I] 4 July 1766.


Clanbrassill’s mother wrote to her brother, Count William Bentinck,1 27 May 1760, that her son, having inherited his estate with a large debt on it, has not, these last two years, ‘acted with economy’. Now he has determined ‘to stint himself to a certain sum, to part with his horses, to stop all works here, and to go over to England’. She did not feel sure that he would carry through his resolve. ‘He is careless and thoughtless, but he is good natured and generous’, and honest; though ‘pinched in his affairs’ has never yet thought of marrying for money nor of ‘selling places in his office by which last means he might certainly get pretty considerably’. And he is not a gambler.

In 1768 he was returned for Helston, unopposed, on the interest of Francis, 2nd Baron Godolphin, whose first wife was a sister of Clanbrassill’s mother. In the House, Clanbrassill voted with the Administration. North wrote of him to Harcourt, lord lieutenant of Ireland, 23 June 1774:2

I had always the greatest reason to be thankful to him for his conduct in Parliament. He brought himself into the House of Commons without the assistance of Administration; has never asked a single favour; but has been constant in his attendance and uniform in his support in Parliament.

He is not known to have spoken in the House.

Mrs. Delany, a cousin of Clanbrassill’s wife, met him at the time of his wedding, and formed a very favourable opinion of him; and she was assured by a friend who knew him well that ‘he was free from every vice in the world’. He ‘looks old of his age (having lost all his fore teeth), but he is tall, genteel, and very well bred’; ‘nothing can have been more generous and polite than Lord Clanbrassill’s behaviour, and he is of an age as well as his lady to know their minds’. And a year later: ‘I like him mightily; he is good humoured, easy, well-bred, and deep in search of botany ... he takes notice of everything.’3

On 18 Nov. 1774 she wrote to Mrs. Port:4

Lord Clanbrassill not in Parliament; depending on Lord Godolphin’s interest made no other, and he was under obligation to give his to Lord Carmarthen. It seems strange that his father, Mr. Foley, did not bring him in; but there is no accounting for narrow minds.

And on 14 Jan. 1775, to her brother Bernard Granville:5 she had a letter from Lady Clanbrassill from Dundalk—‘she seems happy, but hankering after her English friends, and much chagrined at her lord’s not being brought into the English Parliament’. He never re-entered it.  He died 6 Feb. 1798.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Egerton 1722, ff. 69-71.
  • 2. Harcourt Pprs. ix. 209.
  • 3. Mrs. Delany, Autobiog Corresp. (ser. 2), i. 580, 591; ii. 134-5.
  • 4. Ibid. 67, 93.
  • 5. Ibid. 67, 93.