Robert Hamilton (economist)
His grandfather, William Hamilton, principal of Edinburgh University, had been a professor of divinity. Robert Hamilton was also the nephew of the Rev Robert Hamilton (1707–87), and the cousin of James Hamilton (1749-1835).
Robert was the son of the Edinburgh bookseller Gavin Hamilton. Having completed his education at the High School, Edinburgh, and the University of Edinburgh, where he was distinguished in mathematics, Robert was induced to enter a banking-house in order to acquire a practical knowledge of business, but his ambition was really academic.
In 1769 he gave up business pursuits and accepted the rectorship of Perth Academy. In 1779 he was presented to the chair of natural philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. For many years, however, by private arrangement with his colleague Professor Copland, Hamilton taught the class of mathematics. In 1816 he was presented to the latter chair.
Hamilton's most important work is the Essay on the National Debt, which appeared in 1813 and was undoubtedly the first to expose the economic fallacies involved in Pitt's policy of a sinking fund. It is still of value. A posthumous volume published in 1830, The Progress of Society, is also of great ability, and is a very effective treatment of economical principles by tracing their origin and position in the development of social life. Some minor works of a practical character (Introduction to Merchandise, 1777; Essay on War and Peace, 1790) are now forgotten.
- 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 2 February 2011.
- Anderson 1890.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Anderson, Robert Edward (1890). "Hamilton, Robert (1743-1829)". In Stephen, Leslie; Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography 24. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.