Hamilton, Thomas (1780-1858) (DNB00)

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HAMILTON, THOMAS, ninth Earl of Haddington (1780–1858), the only son of Thomas, eighth earl of Haddington, by his wife Lady Sophia Hope, third daughter of John, second earl of Hopetoun, was born in Edinburgh on 21 June 1780. He was educated at Edinburgh University and wards at Christ Church, Oxford, where he matriculated on 24 Oct. 1798, and graduated B.A. in 1801 and M.A. in 1815. At the general election in July 1802 he was returned to parliament in the tory interest for the borough of St. Germans, Cornwall, for which constituency he continued to sit until the dissolution 'in October 1806. At a by-election in January 1807 he was returned for Cockermouth, Cumberland, and at the general election in May of that year for Callington, Cornwall. Having been sworn a member of the privy council on 29 July 1814, he was appointed on 7 Sept. 1814 one of the commissioners for the management of the affairs in India (a post which he retained until the accession of the Grenville party to office in February 1822), and at a by-election in December 1814 was returned for Michael-Borough, Cornwall. At the general election in June 1818 he was elected one of the members for Rochester, and continued to represent that constituency until the dissolution in June 1826. At the general election of that year he was returned for the borough of Yarmouth in the Isle of Wight, but on 24 July 1827 was created Baron Melros of Tynninghame, in the peerage of the United Kingdom, and took his seat in the House of Lords on 29 Jan. 1828 (Journals of the House of Lords, lx. 6).

He succeeded his father as ninth earl of Haddington on 17 March 1828, and was appointed lord-lieutenant of Ireland in Sir Robert Peel's first administration on 29 Dec. 1 834, but resigned, with the rest of his colleagues, in April 1835. In September 1841, on the formation of Peel's second administration, Haddington was appointed first lord of the admiralty (with a seat in the cabinet), a post which he held until January 1846, when he succeeded the Duke of Buccleuch as lord privy seal. After the downfall of this administration in June 1846 Haddington did not again hold office, and took but little part in the debates. On 28 Oct. 1853 he was elected a knight of the Thistle. He died on 1 Dec. 1858 at Tynninghame House, Haddingtonshire, in the seventy-ninth year of his age, when the barony of Melros became extinct, and the earldom of Haddington and the barony of Binning and Byres descended to his cousin, George Baillie of Mellerstain and Jerviswood, the great-great-grandson of Thomas, the sixth earl. Haddington was not a man of any remarkable ability, and Greville, after recording that the governor-generalship of India was offered to but refused by Haddington in 1841, remarks: 'It is a curious circumstance that a man so unimportant, so destitute not only of shining but of plausible qualities, without interest or influence, should by a mere combination of accidental circumstances have had at his disposal three of the greatest and most important offices under the crown, having actually occupied two of them and rejected the greatest and most brilliant of all (Journal of the Reign of Queen Victoria, 1837-52, 1885, ii. 46). In 1843 he received 30,674l. 1s. 8d. in compensation for the surrender of the hereditary office of keeper of Holyrood Park, conferred upon Thomas, sixth earl of Haddington, by charter dated 23 Jan. 1691 (6 & 7 Viet. c. 64). He married, on 13 Nov. 1802, Lady Maria Parker, only surviving child of George, fourth earl of Macclesfield, by whom he had no issue. His widow survived him, and died on 11 Feb. 1861.

[Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, 1813, i. 685; Burke's Peerage, 1888, pp. 644, 730; Wilson's Biog. Index to the House of Commons, 1808, p. 102; Gent. Mag. 1802 vol. Ixxii. pt. ii. p. 1064, 1828 vol. xcviii. pt. i. p. 363, 1859 new ser. vi. 92, 1861 new ser. x. 354; Ann. Reg. 1858, App. to Chron. p. 452; Alumni Oxon. 1888, ii. 595; London Gazettes; Official Return of Lists of Members of Parliament, pt. ii. pp. 216, 231, 243, 258, 275, 288, 306.]

G. F. R. B.