HAMILTON (formerly DALRYMPLE), John (1715-96), of Bargany, Ayr.
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Family and Education
b. 4 Feb. 1715, 2nd s. of Sir Robert Dalrymple, adv., of Castleton, Haddington by his 1st w. Johanna, da. and h. of Hon. John Hamilton, 1st s. of John, 2nd Lord Bargany [S]; bro. of Sir Hew Dalrymple, 2nd Bt. educ. North Berwick; adv. 1735; M. Temple 1735; Leyden 1738. m. (1) contract 25 Apr. 1746, Lady Anne Wemyss (d. c.1760), da. of James, 4th Earl of Wemyss [S], s.p.; (2) contr. 4 July 1769, Margaret, da. of Alexander Montgomerie of Coilsfield, Ayr, and sis. of Hugh Montgomerie. suc. to Bargany estates and changed his name to Hamilton on d. of James, 4th Lord Bargany 1736.
Hamilton was a younger son of the Dalrymple clan of jurists, soldiers and politicians, headed by John, 2nd Earl of Stair. A man of vigorous personality and pawky humour, he attached himself to Frederick, Prince of Wales, became an intimate friend of the Grenvilles,1 and interfered with zest in the political intrigues of any constituency where he or his numerous connexions had an interest. In Ayrshire in 1754, pre-engaged to his friend Patrick Craufurd, he opposed his relation James Mure Campbell and the Loudoun-Argyll interest. Electioneering in Wigtown Burghs in the interest of his kinsman Captain John Dalrymple of Stair, he took advantage of the confused situation to play his own hand; and by a compromise with Lord Galloway secured his own return, against the Argyll candidate. Hamilton’s ‘impetuosity’ was deplored by his relations.2 His brother-in-law, W. Duff, wrote to Loudoun, 22 Apr. 1754:3 ‘I cannot say that Bargany’s being Member will give me the least joy, as I do not see that it will be for his advantage to be in Parliament.’
Dupplin, in his parliamentary lists of 1754, counted Hamilton among ministerial supporters connected with Argyll, but in 1755 he followed Pitt into opposition, and supported his Administration 1756-7, when Scottish placehunters sought to make use of his ‘particular friendship and intimacy’ with the Grenvilles.4 On Pitt’s fall Newcastle, when negotiating for a new Administration, listed Hamilton among the Scots ‘not to be relied on at present—to be treated with’.5 But on 2 May 1757 Hamilton ‘unexpectedly’ voted against Newcastle and Fox in the debate on the loss of Minorca.6
In the Scottish militia agitation Hamilton took an active but not a leading part; attended the meeting at Ayr on 12 Oct. 1759 to address the King, and was a member of the Commons committee to prepare the bill.
In Ayrshire Hamilton by about 1758 had joined his relations in supporting the Argyll-Loudoun candidate against Archibald Montgomerie, brother of the Earl of Eglintoun, who in retaliation allied himself with Galloway, secured his brother’s return for Wigtown Burghs, and opposed Hamilton’s candidature in Wigtownshire. Hamilton was returned with the backing of Bute, but was obliged to accept a compromise with the Galloway interest, vacated the county seat, and in April was returned for the Burghs.
He supported Bute, and was equally constant to Grenville, who repudiated Garlies’s demand that Hamilton should be excluded from any share in Wigtown Burghs patronage.7 Soon afterwards an opportunity to reward Hamilton occurred when the office of master of works fell vacant in February 1764. The place was not officially filled until 4 July 1765, shortly before Grenville’s fall, when it was given to Hamilton in the name of James Duff of the Middle Temple.8
Listed ‘doubtful’ by Rockingham in July 1765, Hamilton followed Grenville into opposition and voted against the repeal of the Stamp Act, 22 Feb. 1766. After the formation of the Chatham Administration Grenville believed that Hamilton was still ‘inclined’ to follow him;9 but in the winter of 1766-7 Rockingham listed him under ‘Bute’, and Townshend in January 1767 counted him ‘doubtful’. Although he voted with Grenville on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767, Newcastle, in March, counted him an Administration supporter. Nevertheless in March 1768 Hamilton lost his place to James Pringle.10 He is not known to have spoken in the House.
From 1766 Hamilton had been seeking another seat. He proposed standing for Ayrshire but was dissuaded by Loudoun.11 On 26 Oct. 1766 Loudoun warned Bute of a rumour that Hamilton was canvassing in one of the Ayr Burghs: ‘He would be a formidable enemy if supported elsewhere.’12 Timorous of contesting Wigtownshire, he eventually negotiated an agreement with William McDowall, offered him the Stair interest, and stood down.13
By his second marriage in 1769 he became connected with his old enemies, the Eglintoun family, but in 1772 wrote to Loudoun roundly denying a rumour that he was ‘an apostate’ to his interest or intended standing for Ayrshire as the Eglintoun candidate: ‘I have no views for myself and am thankful my ambition that way is satisfied.’14
He died 12 Feb. 1796.
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest
- 1. Hamilton to Bute, 30 Nov. 1761, Bute mss.
- 2. Dalrymple of Stair to Loudoun, 21 and 28 Apr. 1754, Lord Dumfries to Loudoun, 15 Jan. 1760, Loudoun mss.
- 3. Ibid.
- 4. Archibald Cunningham to Mure Campbell, 13 Dec. 1756, Patrick Boyle to Mure Campbell, 29 Nov. 1756, 12 Jan. 1757, ibid.
- 5. Add. 32995, f. 383.
- 6. Fox to Devonshire, 3 May 1757, Devonshire mss; Add. 33034, f. 232.
- 7. Grenville to Bedford, 27 Dec. 1763, Bedford mss 48, f. 226.
- 8. Cal. Home Office Pprs. 1760-5, p. 689.
- 9. Grenville to Temple, 24 Oct. 1766, Grenville mss (JM).
- 10. T17/20/35.
- 11. Loudoun to Bute, 28 Aug. 1766, Bute mss.
- 12. Loudoun mss.
- 13. John Dalrymple to Loudoun, 18 Nov. 1767, Chas. Dalrymple of Orangefield to Loudoun, 31 Dec. 1767, 9 Jan., 26 Feb. 1768, ibid.
- 14. Sir John Dalrymple to Loudoun, 8 Jan. 1772, Ld. Dumfries to Loudoun, 15 Sept. 1772, Hamilton to Loudoun, 10 May 1772, ibid. See also DALRYMPLE, Hew.