Hamilton, Archibald (1770-1827) (DNB00)

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HAMILTON, Lord ARCHIBALD (1770–1827), political reformer, born on 6 March 1770, was the younger son of Archibald, ninth duke of Hamilton and sixth duke of Brandon, by his wife Lady Harriet Stewart, daughter of the sixth earl of Galloway. He was therefore brother of Alexander Hamilton Douglas, tenth duke of Hamilton [see Douglas], and Lady Anne Hamilton, both of whom are separately noticed. He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, where he matriculated on 23 April 1788 and graduated B.A. in 1792 and M.A. in 1795. On 14 Oct. 1790 he was admitted a student of Lincoln's Inn, and was called to the bar in Hilary term 1799. It does not appear that he ever practised, and on 7 Nov. 1808 he took his name off the books of the society. At the general election in 1802 he was returned to parliament for Lanarkshire, and continued to sit for that constituency until his death. Hamilton quickly became an active member of the opposition, and took a frequent part in the debates. He was an ardent advocate of political reform and a determined opponent of every kind of injustice and abuse. In 1804 he published 'Thoughts on the Formation of the Late and Present Administrations' (London, 1804, 8vo), in which he contended that Addington's and Pitt's second administration were formed 'upon principles fundamentally opposite to the spirit of the constitution and subversive of its dearest interests.' On 25 April 1809 he brought forward his resolution of censure upon Lord Castlereagh for corrupt disposal of his patronage as president of the board of control. The resolution was lost by a majority of 49 (Parl. Debates, xiv. 203-57). On 7 May 1819 his motion for referring the petitions from the royal burghs of Scotland to a select committee was carried against the government by 149 to 144 (ib. xl. 178-98). When, however, in February 1822, after enumerating the abuses which the reports of the three committees of 1819, 1820, and 1821 had disclosed, he moved that the house should in committee consider the state of the royal burghs, he was defeated. Like his sister, Lady Anne, he was a warm supporter of Queen Caroline, and on 22 June 1820 he moved an amendment to Wilberforce's motion for adjusting the differences of the royal family, urging the insertion of the queen's name in the liturgy. It was seconded by Sir Francis Burdett, but the original motion was carried by a large majority (ib. new ser. i. 1259-65).

Hamilton spoke for the last time in the house on 5 Dec. 1826, when he called attention to the great distress which was then prevailing among the Lanarkshire weavers (ib. xvi. 227-30). He died unmarried on 28 Aug. 1827, in the Upper Mall, Hammersmith, and was buried in the mausoleum at Hamilton Palace. Two of his speeches were published in pamphlet form, viz.: 1. 'Burgh Reform. Speech of the Right hon. (sic) Lord A. Hamilton, in the House of Commons, on his motion for production of the Papers respecting the Burgh of Aberdeen,' Glasgow, 1819, 8vo. 2. ' Substance of the Speech delivered in the House of Commons, on the twentieth of February 1822, by Lord Archibald Hamilton, on a motion for going into a Committee of the whole House, on the subject of the Royal Burghs of Scotland. With a dedication to the Burgesses of the said Burghs,' London, 1822, 8vo.

[Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, 1813, i. 724; Wilson's Biog. Index to the House of Commons, 1808, pp. 332-3; Gent. Mag. 1770 xl. 142, 1827 vol. xcvii. pt. ii.p.462; Ann. Reg. 1770 p. 178, 1827 App. to Chron. p. 255; Alumni Oxon. ii. 592; Lincoln's Inn Registers; Official Return of Lists of Members of Parliament, pp. 226, 238, 254, 269, 281, 296, 311; Notes and Queries, 7th ser. vi. 187, 338; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. F. R. B.