Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hamilton, James Archibald

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HAMILTON, JAMES ARCHIBALD, D.D. (1747–1815), astronomer, was born in 1747 in or near the town of Athlone, and having received his early education from Arthur Grueber, D.D., head-master of the royal school of Armagh, entered Trinity College, Dublin, on 1 Nov. 1765, under the tutorship of Robert Law, B.D. He passed his collegiate course with much credit; made great progress in the study of electricity, and soon displayed remarkable ability in practical astronomy. When he had been for a few years in holy orders he was collated in 1780 to the rectory of Derryloran, in the diocese of Armagh, and while there for nine or ten years he had a private observatory in Cookstown, in which he made several valuable observations, especially on the transit of Mercury. He graduated B.D. and D.D. in 1784, the date of his B.A. degree not being recorded, and in the same year he was collated to the treasurership of Armagh Cathedral, with the rectory of Creggan. In March 1790 he became archdeacon of Ross, and in the same month also prebendary of Tynan, in the diocese of Armagh, when he resigned the treasurership and rectory of Creggan. On 31 July following he was appointed by the primate, Morris Robinson, third lord Rokeby, the first astronomer of the newly founded observatory at Armagh. In December of the same year he exchanged Tynan for the prebend of Mullaghbrack, likewise in the diocese of Armagh. By patent dated 17 Sept. 1804 he was presented by the crown to the deanery of Cloyne, when he resigned the archdeaconry of Ross. He died at the observatory in Armagh 21 Nov. 1815, and was buried at Mullaghbrack, his successor in the office of astronomer being William Davenport, D.D., senior fellow of Trinity College, Dublin. Hamilton was author of several astronomical papers of a high order, which have been printed in the 'Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy,' 1794-1807, of which association he was an active member.

[Todd's Cat. of Dublin Graduates, p. 248; Stuart's Hist. of Armagh, pp. 525-7; Cotton's Fasti Ecclesiæ Hibernicæ, i. 312, 362, iii. 43, 51, 56, v. 210; Brady's Records of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross, ii. 205, 448.]

B. H. B.