Hamilton, Claud (DNB00)

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HAMILTON, CLAUD, Lord Paisley (1543?–1622), generally known as Lord Claud Hamilton, was the fourth son of James Hamilton, second earl of Arran and duke of Châtelherault [q. v.], by his wife Lady Margaret, eldest daughter of James Douglas, third earl of Morton [q. v.] The date of Hamilton's birth is uncertain, but it was possibly in September 1543, for Sir Ralph Sadler wrote to Henry VIII that Châtelherault had gone ‘to Blackness to his wife, who laboured with child’ (Sadler, Letters); but he is said to have been in his seventy-eighth year at the time of his death; while on 20 March 1560 the list of Scottish pledges gives his age as fourteen (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1559–60, entry 903), and a papal bull of 5 Dec. 1553, conferring on him the abbey of Paisley in commendam, says that he was in his fourteenth year (bull printed in Lee's Abbey of Paisley, pp. clxxxiii–5). The bull was issued at the instance of Claud's uncle, John Hamilton (1511?–1571) [q. v.], archbishop of St. Andrews, who until then held the abbacy, and was still to administer its temporal and spiritual concerns till his nephew Claud should reach his twenty-third year; and as a matter of fact Claud was infeft in the temporalities on 29 July 1567. Being one of the hostages for the fulfilment of the treaty of Berwick, Hamilton was detained in England at Newcastle till February 1561–2 (ib. 1561–2, entry 860). He took a leading part in the plot for the deliverance of Queen Mary from Lochleven and her re-establishment on the throne. Shortly after Mary crossed the Firth of Forth on her escape on 2 May 1568, he met her with fifty horse and convoyed her first to Niddry Castle, Linlithgowshire, and then to Hamilton. In all probability it was not Lord John Hamilton [q. v.], as stated by Sir James Melville (Memoirs, p. 201), but Lord Claud as stated by Herries (Memoirs, p. 102), and by the author of the ‘Hist. of James the Sext’ (p. 26), who led the vanguard of the queen at the battle of Langside; for Lord John had some time previously gone to France, and apparently had not returned in time to sign the band of 8 May. The vanguard consisted of about two thousand men, who endeavoured to storm the village, and were all but successful in turning the regent's right when, through the watchfulness of Kirkcaldy of Grange, reinforcements were brought up from the main battle, who with their low weapons ‘struck their enemy in their flanks and faces’ (Sir James Melville, Memoirs, p. 202), and threw them into confusion. At the parliament held by the regent in the same year Hamilton and the other principal supporters of the queen were forfeited (Acta Parl. Scot. iii. 45-8). With his brother, Lord John, he was concerned in the plot by which the regent Moray was assassinated (January 1570), and James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh [q. v.], the murderer, subsequently applied to him by letter for assistance (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1572-4, entry 4). On the forfeiture of Hamilton the abbey and lands of Paisley had been bestowed on Lord Semple, who placed a strong garrison in the castle. During a truce in 1571 Claud Hamilton surprised it and left a dependent, John Hamilton, with several men-at-arms, to hold it ; but the new regent, Lennox, by cutting off their water supply compelled them to surrender (Herries, Memoirs, p. 131). On 19 April of this year he was received by the queen's party into the castle of Edinburgh (Bannatyne Memorials, p. 111). He was one of the leaders of the daring attempt to capture the regent Lennox and the principal lords of the king's party at Stirling on 5 Sept. ; and the trooper Calder, who shot the regent, confessed that he did so by Hamilton's special instructions (confession in Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1569-71, entry 2023). It was also asserted that he had given directions that all the noblemen taken prisoners should be slain as soon as they were brought outside the port of the town (Calderwood, i. 139). On 3 July 1572 he and other Hamiltons were specially denounced as traitors (Reg. P. C. Scotl. ii. 155) ; but on the 10th of the same month he surprised Lord Semple while collecting rents from his tenants, killing forty-two of his men and taking sixteen prisoners (Hist. James the Sext, p. 113). By the 'pacification of Perth,' 23 Feb. 1572-3 (printed in Reg. P. C. Scotl. ii. 193-200), Hamilton was replaced in possession of his estates. Lord Semple refused to deliver up the house of Paisley, but Hamilton, on 10 June 1573, obtained a levy of forces to aid him in recovering it (ib. p. 241). In August 1574 Hamilton married Margaret, only daughter of George, sixth lord Seton, and took up his permanent residence at Paisley.

During Morton's regency (1573-8) Hamilton seems to have taken part in no schemes in behalf of Mary, although he was privy to the plot which led to Morton's fall in 1578. He and his brother John were still under sentences for their connection with the murders of the two regents, the question having been evaded in the pacification of Perth (ib. p. 198). The regent, however, agreed to refrain from action, and to be guided in the future by the advice of the queen of England. Her decision was that its consideration might be left over till King James came of age. They would probably have been unmolested, but when the king nominally assumed the government the old agreement no longer held, and Morton seems to have deemed it advisable, even for his own safety, no longer to spare them. On 30 April 1579 the council therefore suddenly issued an order for the revival of the old acts against them for the commission of the crimes, instruction being given for their immediate apprehension, and for the surrender of their houses and lands (ib. iii. 146-7). Both the Hamiltons, though taken completely by surprise, succeeded in effecting their escape. To conceal this they made ostentatious preparations for the defence of their principal strongholds. They entertained no hope of making any effectual resistance, but the bold attitude of their dependents in defending the castles led the government completely astray. When the castle of Paisley surrendered, it was found that 'Lord Claud was not in his strength, but had conveyed himself quietly to sic pairt as no man knows' (Moysie, Memoirs, p. 21). After remaining for some time in hiding in Scotland he made his way to the borders, where he was received by Sir John Forster. Elizabeth was naturally displeased at proceedings taken without her advice, and she was disposed to screen the Hamiltons on account of their near heirship to the Scottish crown. On 13 Sept. she sent a letter to King James excusing the conduct of Sir John Forster in harbouring Hamilton (Cal. State Papers, Scott. Ser. i. 399), and on the 16th sent Nicholas Arrington to Scotland to mediate on his behalf (ib.) Her mediation was unheeded, and at the parliament held in November doom of forfeiture was passed against the two Hamiltons and their principal associates. De Castelnau, the French ambassador, wrote to his master that Claud professed entire devotion to the French cause, but that it was expedient that the Hamiltons should owe their restoration rather to the mediation of France than to Elizabeth. Claud also himself wrote to Queen Mary, making an offer of his services (ib. ii. 929), and it was clear that he was devoted to her interests, although wholly dependent on Elizabeth for protection. For a time, however, he was compelled to act in direct opposition to the policy of Mary's representatives. The chief agents in expelling Morton from power Esme Stuart, duke of Lennox, and Captain James Stuart, recognised by the king as earl of Arran had been made to share the spoils of the Hamiltons [see under Hamilton, John (1532-1604)]. The French king, notwithstanding the remonstrances of De Castelnau, had declined to interfere on behalf of the Hamiltons, and as Claud had to depend for redress wholly on Elizabeth his purposes for the time became identical with hers. By the raid of Ruthven in 1582 the two favourites were driven from power; but after the escape of the king to the catholic lords at St. Andrews in June 1583, Arran, who had usurped the titles of the Hamiltons, was installed as the reigning favourite. Claud was thus disposed to support Elizabeth's Scottish policy, then directed against Arran. In 1584 Claud Hamilton and his brother John were sent down by Elizabeth to the borders to aid the Ruthven lords in a scheme for again obtaining possession of the king's person. Hamilton was present in April at the capture of the castle of Stirling (Moysie, p. 48); but the arrest in Dundee of Gowrie, the head of the conspiracy, rendered their success of no avail, and without striking a further blow they fled to England. On 3 Nov. following Hamilton, without the knowledge of the English government, ‘returned to Scotland on the king's simple promise’ (Calderwood, iv. 208). Arran having taken umbrage at his presence in Scotland, he was sent to the northern regions, where he was entertained by Huntly until on 6 April 1585 an order was made for him to go abroad before 1 May (Reg. P. C. Scotl. iii. 733). In July he arrived at Paris (Paget to the Queen of Scots, Cal. State Papers, Scott. Ser. ii. 974), where on the 16th he wrote a letter to Queen Mary, professing his devotion and offering his services (ib. p. 973). He was still in Paris when the second attempt against Arran was successful. He had ceased to enjoy the confidence of Elizabeth, but was recalled by James, and left Paris about the end of January 1586, bearing a letter from Henry III to the king of Scots (Teulet, Relations politiques de la France et de l'Espagne avec l'Écosse, ed. 1862, iv. 18). From the French king he received a gift of five hundred crowns to defray the expenses of the journey (ib.), and intimation was given to M. D'Esneval that he would receive powerful aid from Hamilton in counteracting the English influence at the court of the Scottish king (ib. p. 31).

Hamilton's ability and ambition caused him to be selected by the party of Queen Mary as the agent in their schemes in preference to his brother John. His brother was at this time completely under his influence, and it was Claud's hope—a hope carefully fostered by Mary—that he might supplant his brother as the nearest heir to the Scottish crown. On 6 Feb. he had an interview with the king at Holyrood, and was favourably received. According to Moysie he was ‘a man well lykit of be the king for his wit, and obedience in coming and going at the king's command, and for reueiling of certane interpryses of the lordis at thair being in Ingland’ (Memoirs, p. 56). It was stated that Hamilton, who had lately become a Roman catholic, had been summoned to return by the king, who wished to form a new faction to ruin the Earls of Angus and Mar, and the other lords who had ousted Arran from power (Rogers to Walsingham, 12 Jan. 1586, Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. Addit. 1580–1625, p. 167). This rumour was undoubtedly correct so far as it expressed the wish of the Guises and the desire of Hamilton. From this time he appears as sharing with Huntly the leadership of the catholic party in Scotland. One of the special missions with which he was entrusted by the Guises was to effect a reconciliation between the Queen of Scots and her son (Archbishop of Glasgow to Mary Stuart, 21 March 1586, in Labanoff, vii. 184); but he was also the agent in much more important schemes. In connection with the projected foreign invasion with which the Babington conspiracy was conjoined Mary, on 20 May, wrote a remarkable letter to Charles Paget to secure, if possible, the co-operation of Scotland in the enterprise (ib. vi. 318). Paget was instructed to inform Hamilton of the scheme, and to secure his assistance. If the king of Scots declined to join, he was to be seized and placed in the hands either of the king of Spain or the pope to be educated on the continent in the catholic religion. During his absence it was proposed that Hamilton should act as regent. Paget was also indirectly to put him in hope that Mary would cause him to be declared heir to the Scottish crown should her son die without children. Hamilton had been already in communication with the king of Spain, and on 15 May had sent Robert Bruce to Spain as ambassador for himself and the Earls of Huntly and Morton with separate letters from each nobleman urging Philip to lend his aid in a project for ‘placing the king at liberty and establishing the catholic religion’ (Teulet, Relations politiques, v. 349–54). The discovery of the Babington conspiracy and the execution of Mary interfered with the completion of the project in its original form; but the negotiations with the king of Spain were not broken off. Hamilton had earnestly urged James to exert his utmost efforts to save his mother (Despatches of M. Courcelles, Bannatyne Club, 1828, p. 13). James's apparent indifference to her fate had exasperated the catholics against him. Hamilton and his friends prosecuted the Spanish project with greater earnestness than ever, and their importunity helped to promote the Armada expedition. In connection with the project there was a proposal to assassinate among other noblemen Lord John Hamilton in order that his dependents might transfer their allegiance to Claud, a man of greater energy and intelligence (‘Memoria de la Nobleza de Escocia,’ in Teulet, v. 453–4). Even after the dispersion of the Armada they continued their communications with Spain, and in February 1588–9 several incriminating letters were seized on a Scotsman who had been appointed to carry them to the Prince of Parma (Cal. State Papers, Scott. Ser. i. 553–4; Calderwood, History, v. 19–36). In one of the letters they urged that the invasion of England should again be attempted by Scotland. Hamilton denied that he had any knowledge of the letters (Calderwood, v. 36), but offered to deliver himself up, and on 7 March he was sent to the castle of Edinburgh (Cal. State Papers, Scott. Ser. i. 555). He appears, however, to have received his liberty shortly afterwards, for on 5 Jan. 1589–90 the presence of him and other papists in Edinburgh caused an alarm of an intention to surprise it during the night (Calderwood, v. 70). While he had been carrying on these intrigues with Spain he had been on good terms with the king, and his extensive estates, including the pertinents of the abbacy and monastery of Paisley, had on 29 July 1587 been erected into a temporal lordship for him and his heirs male under the title of Baron of Paisley. From 1590 he, however, completely disappears from the stage of public life, and two references to him in the letters of the Ambassador Bowes show that his inactivity was due to insanity, which for many years had affected his eldest brother. On 28 Nov. 1590 Bowes informs Burghley that Paisley had returned to his senses (Cal. State Papers, Scott. Ser. ii. 584); but on 16 Dec. 1591 he reports that he is ‘beastly mad’ (ib. p. 599). From this time the name of the master of Paisley appears on the register of the privy council as attending the meetings, and in other ways representing his father. Paisley died in 1622, and was buried in the abbey of Paisley. By his wife Margaret, only daughter of George, sixth Lord Seton, he had four sons and a daughter. The sons were James, first earl of Abercorn [q. v.]; Hon. Sir Claud Hamilton, appointed on 6 Oct. 1618 constable of the castle of Toome, county Antrim, Ireland, for life; Hon. Sir George Hamilton of Greenlaw and Roscrea, co. Tipperary; and Hon. Sir Frederick Hamilton, father of Gustavus Hamilton, viscount Boyne [q. v.]. The daughter, Margaret, became wife of William Douglas [q. v.], first marquis of Douglas.

[Register P. C. Scotl. vols. ii–vi.; Cal. State Papers, Scott. Ser.; ib. For. Ser. Reign of Elizabeth, and Dom. Ser. Reign of James I; Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. Appendix, pt. vi.; Teulet's Relations politiques de la France et de l'Espagne avec l'Écosse, Paris ed.; Papiers d'État relatifs à l'histoire de l'Écosse au XVIe Siècle; Correspondance de Fénelon (Cooper and Teulet); Letters of Mary Stuart (Labanoff); Historie of James the Sext (Bannatyne Club); Moysie's Memoirs, ib.; Sir James Melville's Memoirs, ib.; Gray Papers, ib.; Lord Herries's Memoirs (Abbotsford Club); Histories of Calderwood, Spotiswood, and Keith; John Anderson's Genealogical History of the Hamiltons; Lees's Abbey of Paisley; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), i. 1–2.]

T. F. H.