Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hamilton, James (1610-1674)

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HAMILTON, JAMES (1610–1674), bishop of Galloway, was the second son of Sir James Hamilton of Broomhill, by Margaret, daughter of William Hamilton of Udston, and brother of John, first lord Belhaven. He was born at Broomhill in 1610, studied at the university of Glasgow, graduated there in 1628, and in 1634 was ordained as minister of Cambusnethan by Archbishop Lindsay. He was deposed by the synod of Glasgow in April 1639 for signing the protestation of the bishops and their adherents against the assembly of 1638, but on professing penitence was restored by the assembly of 1639. The committee, to whom his case was referred, reported that 'he was a young man of good behaviour, and well beloved of his parish, and guilty of nothing directly but the subscribing of the declinature.' After this he went with the times. Bishop Burnet says: 'He was always believed episcopal. Yet he had so far complied in the time of the covenant, that he affected a peculiar expression of his counterfeit zeal for their cause, to secure him- self from suspicion; when he gave the sacrament, he excommunicated all that were not true to the covenant, using a form in the Old Testament of shaking out the lap of his gown; saying so did he cast out of the church and communion all that dealt falsely in the covenant.' In 1648 he supported the 'Engagement,' and was urged by his kinsman the Duke of Hamilton to accept a chaplaincy in the army raised for the rescue of the king. At the Restoration he was rewarded by a grant of money and the bishopric of Galloway, and along with Sharp, Leighton, and Fair- foul was consecrated at Westminster 15 Dec. 1661. Galloway was a stronghold of the extreme covenanters. Many of the ministers refused to submit to episcopacy, and when de- prived held field meetings, which were largely attended by their old flocks. At the request of the bishop and his clergy, whose ranks had been recruited from the north, soldiers were quartered on the frequenters of conventicles to compel their attendance at church, and there appears to be good authority for the statement that Sir James Turner, the officer in command, 'was obliged to go beyond his instructions to satisfy the bishop.' Hamilton acquired the estate of Broomhill in 1669 from his brother, who had been raised to the peerage, and died in August 1674. Burnet describes him as 'a good-natured man, but weak.' Wodrow says : 'His gifts were reckoned every way ordinary, but he was remarkable for his cunning and time-serving temper; ' while one of his grandsons describes him as 'mighty well seen in divinity, accurate in the fathers and church history . . . very pious and charitable, strict in his morals . . . and every way worthy of the sacred character he bore.' In 1635 he married Margaret, only daughter of Alexander Thomson, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, and had two sons and four daughters.

[Keith's Cat.; Wodrow's Hist.; Records of the Kirk; Burnet's Hist, of his Own Time; Birnie's Family of Bromhill; Scott's Fasti; Register of the Synod of Galloway, 1664-71.]

G. W. S.