Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 24.djvu/224
On 4 April 1607 Hamilton received a charter of the office of master of the metals, with a lease of all the metals and minerals of Scotland, upon payment of one-tenth of the produce to the king. This grant was said to have been obtained by him on his discovery of a silver mine within his lands near Linlithgow. At first, according to Calderwood, it was represented that the discovery was of little consequence, but it gradually oozed out that the mine was of considerable value, 'whereupon the Advocate was sent for and renounced, as was reported, his infeftment of the said mineral (vi. 689). After further trials the person employed by the king to manage the mines vacated the works again to Hamilton on account of their small return (Balfour, Annals, ii. 23). Hamilton was one of the new Octavians appointed by the king in 1611. On 15 May 1612 he secured the appointment of lord clerk register. Sir John Skene sent his son with his resignation of the office in the expectation that the son would be appointed to succeed him, but Hamilton induced the son to accept instead an appointment as judge, whereupon Hamilton immediately received the vacated office, and shortly afterwards exchanged it with Sir Alexander Hay for that of secretary of state. In 1613 he was raised to the peerage by the title of Lord Binning and Byres, and on the death of John Preston of Fentonbarns was, 12 June 1616, appointed president of the court of session. He was one of the three commissioners chosen by the king to represent him at the assembly held at Perth when the six articles were passed for the enforcing of episcopal observances, and on him devolved the chief responsibility of obtaining a majority in their favour (see Calderwood, vii. 304-32). On 20 March 1619 he was created Earl of Melrose, the lands of the abbacy being already in his possession. The dignity was bestowed 'no doubt,' says Calderwood, 'for the good service he had done in advancing the estate of the bishops and course of conformity' (ib. p. 360). In 1621 Melrose, as president of the court of session, requested the lords of session, about
king's porter on the evening- of 10 Jan. 1596-7, one of the persons specially denounced was 'Mr. Thomas Hamilton, brought up in Paris with that apostate Mr. John Hamilton, and men say the dregs of stinking Roman profession stick fast to his ribs' (ib. p. 549). Shortly afterwards the king accepted the resignation of the Octavians, hoping by this concession to reconcile the nation to innovations in the constitution of the church. Meanwhile Hamilton had taken advantage of his prerogatives as an Octavian to secure for himself, on 31 Jan. 1596, the office of king's advocate. Previous to this the duties of the office had been discharged by two persons, but Hamilton was appointed sole advocate for life, Hart, who was previously in office, continuing to act as joint advocate till his appointment as justice-depute in 1597. He was the first king's advocate styled lord advocate in the records of the court of session, though the title appears earlier in the records of parliament. On 22 Feb. 1597 an act of sederunt was passed by the court of session, stating that people murmured at Hamilton sitting as judge in the cases in which he was pursuer for the king's interest, and declaring that in such cases he was not to be considered as a party. Shortly after the accession of James to the English throne Hamilton was knighted. In the absence of James in England Hamilton had greater responsibilities, and tried to make himself indispensable by studying to gratify the whims of his master's Scottish policy. In 1604 he was named by the Scottish parliament one of the commissioners for the union with England, and on 28 Aug. the king wrote to him stating that he intended before the Scottish commissioners arrived to hold a meeting of the privy council for th purpose of establishing a uniform coinage in the two countries, and requested Hamilton's presence at Hampton Court (Melrose Papers, i. 5). The following year a dispute occurred between the general assembly of the kirk and the king regarding the power of the assembly to meet without the king's appointment Hamilton was ordered to prosecute some ministers who had assembled in spite of the king's prohibition. He informed the king that for this particular trial Lord Dunbar had been compelled to form a jury chiefly of hi own particular and private kinsmen and friends (ib. p. 12). While the ministers were awaiting their trial, Hamilton was again sum moned to London. On his advice probably James invited eight of the ministers of the Scottish kirk to a conference, and at one of the meetings Andrew Melville taunted Hamilton with 'having favoured trafficking priests an screened from punishment his uncle, John Hamilton who had been banished from France and branded as an incendiary by the parliament of that kingdom' (M'Crie, Life of Andrew Melville, 2nd edit. ii. 146-7 ; Calderwood, History, vi. 576-8). For this and similar ebullitions Melville was sent to the Tower. Hamilton then returned to Scotland, and soon after, with great shrewdness, nstituted the inquiries regarding the conlection of George Sprot or Spot with the Gowrie conspiracy, which led to Sprot's condction and execution.