Hamilton, Robert North Collie (DNB00)

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HAMILTON, Sir ROBERT NORTH COLLIE (1802–1887), bart., Indian official, born 7 April 1802, was eldest son of Sir Frederick Hamilton, fifth baronet, of Silverton Hill, Lanarkshire, by his wife, Eliza Ducarel, daughter of John Collie, M.D., of Calcutta. He was educated at Haileybury College, and in 1819 obtained a Bengal writership. His first post was that of assistant to the magistrate at Benares, where his father, a Bengal civilian of long standing, was collector of customs (1816-27) and deputy opium-agent (1828-30). After filling other subordinate posts the younger Hamilton was appointed magistrate of the city court of Benares in 1827, and acting collector of customs and judge there in 1829, and in July 1830 became acting secretary in the political department. In 1834, on his return from leave to Europe, he became collector and magistrate at Secheswan, and officiating collector and magistrate at Meerut; in 1836 collector and session judge at Delhi, and in 1837 officiating commissioner of revenue at Agra. After holding various other appointments for brief periods he was appointed commissioner at Agra; in 1843 secretary to the government in the north-west provinces, and in 1844 resident with Holkar at Indore. During his long tenure of the latter post he acquired his vast knowledge of Central India. As Malleson points out (Hist. Indian Mutiny, v. 90), Hamilton knew every inch of ground, the disposition of the people, and all the peculiarities constituting a bond or a source of disunion between particular districts. His wise counsel and sympathetic intercourse had fostered a genuine attachment to the British rule in the youthful Holkar (Holmes, p. 522). Hamilton, who succeeded his father in the family baronetcy in 1853, was in 1854 made governor-general's agent for Central India, retaining his post at Indore. In 1857 he went on home leave, his place with Holkar being temporarily filled by Sir Henry Marion Durand [q. v.] Hamilton had only been six weeks in England when tidings from Meerut of the mutiny caused him to re-embark for India. lie reached Calcutta in August 1857. At the request of the governor-general he drew up a plan for the restoration of order in Central India, which after discussion with Sir Colin Campbell, then in Calcutta, was adopted. A column of Bombay troops from Mhow was to move on Calpee, taking Jhansi on its way; another column of Madras troops, starting from Jubbulpore, was to cross Bundelkund to Banda. Hamilton, as political officer, accompanied the Bombay force under Sir Hugh Rose, afterwards Lord Strathnairn, which started from Indore on 6 Jan. 1858, and was present with it in every action fought (medal and clasp). When the Central Indian field-force, as the army was called, approached Jhansi in March 1858, Hamilton, with characteristic decision and self-reliance, set aside the counter-orders of the governor-general and the commander-in-chief, which would have diverted the force to Chirkaree in Bundelkund. Hamilton thus enabled Rose to carry the operations to a brilliant conclusion (Malleson, v. 108). On 20 June 1858 Hamilton entered Gwalior with Sindia. He remained at Gwalior until order was restored. For his services in Central India Hamilton received the thanks of parliament, and was made a K.C.B. (civil division). He was a member of the supreme council of India in 1859-60, but was compelled to retire through ill-health. After his return home he served as high sheriff of Warwickshire, of which county he was a magistrate and deputy-lieutenant, and unsuccessfully contested South Warwickshire in the liberal interest in 1868.

Hamilton married, in 1831, Constantia, third daughter of General Sir George Anson, G.C.B. (see Foster, Peerage under 'Earl of Lichfield'), by whom he had two sons and three daughters. She died on 28 Nov. 1842. Hamilton died at his seat, Avon Cliffe, Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, on 31 May 1887, aged 85.

[Foster's Baronetage, under 'Hamilton of Silverton Hill, Lanarkshire;' East Indian Registers, under dates; Kaye's and Malleson's Hist. of Indian Mutiny (cabinet ed., London, 1888–9), iii. 135, v. 90 et seq.; R. T. E. Holmes's Indian Mutiny; Colonel W. K. Stuart's Reminiscences of a Soldier, London, 1874, vol. ii.; Annual Register, 1887; Illustrated London News, 8 Oct. 1887 (will, personalty 17,000l.)]

H. M. C.