Thomas Hamilton (writer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Thomas Hamilton FRSE (1789 – 7 December 1842)[1] was a Scottish soldier and author.


He was born in Pisa, Tuscany. He was the second son of William Hamilton (1758-1790), professor of anatomy and botany, Glasgow, and was younger brother of Sir William Hamilton (1788-1856), the metaphysician. His father died a few months after he was born.

After preliminary education at Glasgow, he was placed in 1801 as a pupil with the Rev. Dr. Home, Chiswick, and some months later with the Rev. Dr. Scott, Hounslow. For several months in 1803, he was with Dr. Sommers at Mid Calder, Midlothian, preparatory to entering Glasgow University, where he matriculated the following November. He studied there three winters, proving himself an able if not very diligent student. His close college companion, of whom he saw little in after life, was Michael Scott, the author of 'Tom Cringle's Log.' [2]

Hamilton's bias was towards the army, and in 1810, after fully showing, in Glasgow and Liverpool, his incapacity for business, he got a commission in the 29th regiment. Twice on active service in the Peninsula, he received from a musket bullet, at Albuera, a somewhat serious wound in the thigh. He was also in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick with his regiment, which at length was sent to France as part of the army of occupation. [2]

About 1818, Hamilton retired on half-pay, fixing his headquarters at Edinburgh. He became a valued member of the 'Blackwood' writers. He is specially complimented in the song of personalities in the 'Noctes Ambrosianae' for February 1826 (Noctes, i. 89). James Hogg in his 'Autobiography' credits him with a considerable share in some of the 'ploys' led by John Gibson Lockhart. [2]

Hamilton married in 1820, and for several summers he and his wife lived at Lockhart's cottage of Chiefs wood, near Abbotsford House, Sir Walter Scott finding them very congenial neighbours and friends. In 1829, Captain and Mrs. Hamilton went to Italy, and at the end of the year Mrs. Hamilton died and was buried at Florence. [2]

Hamilton's house, Elleray painted by Alexander Nasmyth 1808

Some time after his return, Hamilton visited America, bringing back materials for a book on the Americans. Marrying a second time, the widow of Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar, bart., governor of the Mauritius, he settled at John Wilson's former house, Elleray, and saw much of Wordsworth, whom he was one of the first Scotsmen rightly to appreciate. Visiting the continent with his wife, Hamilton was seized with paralysis at Florence, and he died at Pisa of a second attack 7 December 1842. He was buried at Florence beside his first wife. [2]


Hamilton's novel Cyril Thornton appeared in 1827. It is partly autobiographical, with Hamilton's early impressions of Scottish university life and Glasgow citizens when he could call Govan "a pretty and rural village", on to his military experiences. The book went through three editions in the author's lifetime, and was one of Blackwood's Standard Novels.[2]

In 1829, Hamilton published Annals of the Peninsular Campaign. His Men and Manners in America appeared in 1833.[2]

Craig Lamont has placed Thomas Hamilton within a 'Glasgow School' of early nineteenth century Scottish novelists, along with John Galt and Michael Scott.[3]


  1. ^ Waterston, Charles D; Macmillan Shearer, A (July 2006). Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783-2002: Biographical Index (PDF). I. Edinburgh: The Royal Society of Edinburgh. ISBN 978-0-902198-84-5. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Bayne 1890.
  3. ^ Craig Lamont,Finding Galt in Glasgow, in Gerard Carruthers & Colin Kidd, (Eds.), The International Companion to John Galt, Scottish Literature International, 2017, pp. 34-43

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBayne, Thomas Wilson (1890). "Hamilton, Thomas (1789-1842)" . In Stephen, Leslie; Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 24. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

Further reading

External links

  • Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hamilton, Thomas" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 12 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 888.
Retrieved from ""
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia :
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Thomas Hamilton (writer)"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA