Claud Hamilton, 1st Lord Paisley

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Claud Hamilton
Lord Paisley
An engraved portrait showing the head of a middle-aged man with short hair, beard and moustache wearing a beret, a ruff and an ornate jacket
SuccessorJames Hamilton
Born9 June 1546
Died3 May 1621 (aged 74)
Spouse(s)Margaret Seton
James, Claud, Frederick, & others
FatherJames, 2nd Earl of Arran
MotherMargaret Douglas

Claud Hamilton, 1st Lord Paisley (3 June 1546 – 3 May 1621) was a Scottish politician. He is the ancestor of the earls, marquesses and dukes of Abercorn.

Birth and origins[edit]

Claud was born in 1546 (baptised 9 June), probably at Paisley, Scotland. He was the youngest son of James Hamilton and his wife Margaret Douglas. His father was the 2nd Earl of Arran in Scotland and 1st Duke of Châtellerault in France.[1] His father's family descended from Walter FitzGilbert, the founder of the House of Hamilton,[2] who had received the barony of Cadzow from Robert the Bruce.[3] Claud's mother was a daughter of James Douglas, 3rd Earl of Morton. Both parents were Scottish. They had married in September 1532.[4]

Family tree
Claud Hamilton with wife, parents, and other selected relatives.[a]
1st Earl

c. 1475 –
2nd Earl

c. 1516 – 1575
7th Lord

3rd Earl

1st Marquess

1st Lord


d. 1616
1st Earl


d. 1632
of Shawfield
d. 1614
2nd Earl

d. c. 1670

c. 1590 – 1637
2nd Baron
H. of

d. 1638
1st Bt.

c. 1607 –
XXXEarls of
XXXEarls of
XXXMarquesses of

Commendator of Paisley[edit]

His uncle John Hamilton, an illegitimate son of his grandfather, the 1st Earl of Arran, was commendatory abbot of Paisley Abbey around the time of his birth. In 1553 this uncle succeeded David Beaton as Archbishop of St Andrews and agreed to pass the position as commendator to his nephew Claud, who was then about seven years old.[19]

Scottish politics[edit]

In March 1560, when he was 14, Hamilton was sent as a hostage to England to guarantee the Treaty of Berwick.[20]

He and his family were Catholics and supporters of Mary, Queen of Scots. On 2 May 1568, he helped her escape from Loch Leven Castle and on 13 May fought for her at the defeat of Langside.[21] His estates having been forfeited because of condemnation, Hamilton was concerned in the murder of the Regent James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray in 1570, and also in that of the Regent Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox in the following year; but in 1573 he recovered his estates.[22]

Marriage and children[edit]

A painted portrait of Margaret Seton showing the head of a young woman with blue eyes, fair hair and pearls and precious stones in it, wearing a ruff
Margaret Seton, his wife

On 1 August 1574 at Niddry Castle, Hamilton married Margaret Seton, the daughter of George Seton, 7th Lord Seton and his wife, Isabel Hamilton.[23][24] Among her siblings were Robert Seton, 1st Earl of Winton; Sir John Seton of Barnes, attendant to the Earl of Leicester in 1575, Master Carver to Philip II of Spain and Master of Horse to James VI; Alexander Seton, 1st Earl of Dunfermline, Lord Urquhart, Lord Fyvie, and Prior of Pluscarden; and Sir William Seton, who married Janet Dunbar.[25]

Claud and Margaret had five sons:

  1. James (1575–1618), was created the 1st Earl of Abercorn in 1603[26]
  2. John, married Johanna Everard, daughter of Levimus Everard[27]
  3. Claud (died 1614), of Shawfield, was appointed to the Privy Council of Ireland,[28] and whose daughter Margaret married Sir John Stewart of Methven[29][b]
  4. George (died before 1657) of Greenlaw and Roscrea, married twice and lived at Derrywoon[31][32][33]
  5. Frederick (1590–1647), served Sweden in the Thirty Years' War[34] and built the castle of Manorhamilton, County Leitrim, Ireland

—and at least one daughter:

  1. Margaret (died 1623), married William Douglas, 1st Marquess of Douglas[35]

Later years[edit]

In 1562 his eldest brother, James, was declared insane.[7] His father died at Hamilton on 22 January 1575.[36] His brother James as the eldest inherited the title and estate but because of his insanity, John, the second brother, had to stand in for him.

An engraved 3/4-length portrait of a middle-aged man with short hair, beard and moustache wearing a beret, a ruff and an ornate jacket
Lord Paisley

Then in 1579 the privy council decided to arrest both him and his brother, Lord John Hamilton (afterwards 1st Marquess of Hamilton), to punish them for their past misdeeds. They were besieged at Hamilton.[37] The brothers escaped to the Kingdom of England, where Queen Elizabeth used them as pawns in the diplomatic game, and later Claud lived for a short time in France.[22]

In 1580 he is received into the Catholic church by Frater James Tyrie.[38]

In April 1583 Claud was in exile in England at Widdrington Castle in Northumberland. He wrote to Queen Elizabeth and Frances Walsingham for aid for his expenses living in this "sober house" especially as his wife was soon to visit.[39]

Returning to Scotland in 1586 and meddling again in politics, he sought to reconcile James VI of Scotland with his mother; he was in communication with Philip II of Spain in the interests of Mary and the Roman Catholic religion, and neither the failure of Anthony Babington's plot nor even the defeat of the Spanish Armada put an end to these intrigues.[22]

In 1587 he was created a Scottish Lord of Parliament as Lord Paisley, when the abbey was erected as a barony.[40] With this the Hamilton family gained a second seat in Parliament, the first being held by his elder brother John for his eldest brother James, during his insanity. This seat in the Scottish Parliament was occupied after his death by his grandson James, the 2nd Earl of Abercorn and Lord Paysley became a subsidiary title of the earls, later marquesses and dukes of Abercorn, which was held by the heir apparent.

Illness, death, and timeline[edit]

In 1589 some of his letters were seized and Lord Paisley, as he was now, suffered a short imprisonment, after which he practically disappeared from public life.[22] He suffered from mental illness in his later years. In November 1590 he broke down in tears after reading the Bible and it was thought he would not recover 'in regard of the infirmity haunting and falling on many descended of that house'.[41] His eldest brother James Hamilton, 3rd Earl of Arran, had been suffering from a mental illness since 1562. In 1598 he allowed James, his eldest son, styled the Master of Paisley, to act on his behalf with regard to all the affairs concerning the town.[42] His wife died in March 1616.[43] His son predeceased him in 1618. He died in 1621 and was buried in Paisley Abbey.[44][45] He was succeeded by his grandson, James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Abercorn.

See also[edit]

Notes, citations, and sources[edit]


  1. ^ This family tree is partly derived from the Abercorn pedigree pictured in Cokayne.[5] Also see the lists of siblings and children in the text.
  2. ^ His son Claud Hamilton of Shawfield must not be confused with Sir Claud Hamilton, the commander of Fort Toome.[30]


  1. ^ a b Holmes 2004, p. 776, line 3 of the entry: "... was born probably in 1546, the fifth and youngest son of James Hamilton, second Earl of Arran and first Duke of Châtelherault ..."
  2. ^ Chisholm 1911a, p. 878, line nine: "... the first authentic ancestor is one Walter FitzGilbert. He first appears in 1294–1295 ..."
  3. ^ Paul 1907, p. 341, line 12: "At a later but uncertain date he received the barony of Cadzow from King Robert ..."
  4. ^ Cokayne 1910, p. 221, line 31: "He m. [married], shortly before 23 Sep. 1532, Margaret 1st da. [daughter] of James (Douglas), Earl of Morton [S. [Scotland]], by Catherine illeg. da. of James IV."
  5. ^ Cokayne 1910, p. 4: "Tabular pedigree of the Earls of Abercorn"
  6. ^ Paul 1907, p. 368, line 34: "... who was born in 1537 or in 1538 as he was under twenty-three on 15 April 1560 when Randolph wrote to Cecil recommending his good qualities."
  7. ^ a b c Paul 1907, p. 369, line 4: "... Unhappily, in April 1562, he showed signs of disordered intellect, and was soon after pronounced insane."
  8. ^ a b Henderson 1890, p. 176, left column: "On the death of his father in 1575, he came into nominal possession of his estates, which were, however, administrated by his second brother, John ..."
  9. ^ Debrett 1828, p. 443, line 10: "John, 2d son of the Duke of Chatelherault, succeeded on his father's death to the family estates ..."
  10. ^ Paul 1907, p. 369, line 11: "Gavin, styled second son ... appears to have died before August 1547 in his youth."
  11. ^ Chatellherault's will, NAS ECC8/8/4
  12. ^ Burke 1869, p. 2, right column, line 37: "d. unm. [died unmarried] 1611."
  13. ^ Dunlop 1890, p. 170, line 32: "Barbara, who married James, fourth lord Fleming, high chamberlain of Scotland."
  14. ^ Paul 1907, p. 370, line 4: "Barbara, the eldest daughter, was first contracted to Alexander, Lord Gordon ... but it is not certain that the marriage took place ... She mas married (contract dated 22 December 1553) to James, Lord Fleming, chamberlain of Scotland."
  15. ^ Dunlop 1890, p. 170, right column, line 37: "Jane, who married Hugh Montgomery, third earl of Eglintoun."
  16. ^ Paul 1907, p. 370, line 15: "Jean or Jane ... was married (contract dated 13 February 1553-4) to the earl of Eglinton."
  17. ^ Dunlop 1890, p. 170, right column, line 36: "Anne who married George, fifth Earl of Huntly."
  18. ^ Dunlop 1890, p. 170, right column, line 34: "Margaret, who married Alexander, lord Gordon, eldest son of George, fourth earl of Huntly;"
  19. ^ a b Holmes 2004, p. 776, line 6 of the entry: "He was made commendator of Paisley as a child when in 1553 his uncle James Hamilton resigned the position in order to become archbishop of St Andrews."
  20. ^ a b Bain 1898, p. 344: "1. The Duke of Chatelherault's 4th son, Lord Claude, aged 14 years: in Canterbury."
  21. ^ a b Henderson 1890, p. 141: "He took a leading part in the plot for the deliverance of the Queen Mary from Lochleven and her re-establishment on the throne."
  22. ^ a b c d Chisholm 1911b.
  23. ^ Paul 1904, p. 39, line 24: "... having married, 1 August 1574 (contract dated 15 and 16 June 1574), Margaret daughter of George, fifth Lord Seton by Isabel daughter of Sir William Hamilton of Sanquhar ..."
  24. ^ a b Paul 1911, p. 290, line 19: "Margaret, married at Niddry Castle, on 1 August 1574 (contract 15 and 16 June 1574), to Lord Claud Hamilton, fourth and youngest son of James, second Earl of Arran ..."
  25. ^ Boyd 1907, p. 120, linen 13: "Whereas of late a young gentlemen named John Seytoun, upon earnest desire to visit your highness' Court, repaired thither with my licence and recommendation to my Lord the Earl Leicester ..."
  26. ^ Cokayne 1910, p. 2, line 8"On 5 Apr. 1603 he was cr. [created] Lord Abercorn, co. Linlithgow [S. [Scotland]], to him and his heirs whatsoever."
  27. ^ Paul 1904, p. 40, line 4: "Sir John Hamilton, married Johanna, daughter of Levimus Everard, Councillor of State to the King of Spain, in the Province of Mechlin ..."
  28. ^ Paul 1904, p. 40, line 17: "Claud Hamilton of Shawfield, co. Linlithgow, a Gentleman of the King's Privy Chamber, appointed 11 February 1613 a member of the Privy Council in Ireland, was granted as an undertaker the small proportions of Killeny and Teadane or Eden containing together 2000 acres of the barony of Strabane ..."
  29. ^ Paul 1904, p. 43, line 4: "Margaret, married first to Sir John Stewart of Metven, natural son of Ludovic, second Duke of Lennox; and secondly, to Sir John Seton of Gargunnock."
  30. ^ Burke 1869, p. 3, left column, line 40: "Claud (Sir), commander of Fort of Toome, co. Antrim; m. [married] the dau. [daughter] and h. [heir] of sir Robert Hamilton, of manor Elieston, co. Tyrone, and d. [died] 1629, leaving a son and heir."
  31. ^ Paul 1904, p. 43, line 10: "Sir George Hamilton of Greenlaw in the county of Tyrone and Roscrea in the county of Tipperary, was granted the middle proportion of Largie alias Cloghogenal and the small proportion of Derrywoone but the grant was never enrolled. In 1611 he was resident at Derrywoone ..."
  32. ^ Lodge 1789, p. 110: "Sir George Hamilton of Greenlaw, and Roscrea, in the county of Tipperary, Knt. married first Isabella of the family of Civico of Bruges in Flanders, by whom he had one daughter Margaret, who became the first wife of Sir Archibald Acheson of Gosford ..."
  33. ^ Paul 1904, p. 43, line 27: "He married also, probably as his second wife, Mary Butler, sixth daughter of Walter, eleventh Earl of Ormonde, and had an only surviving child. James, who died unmarried, his will being proved 2 February 1658-9 and execution granted to George Lord Strabane, the sole executor."
  34. ^ Paul 1904, p. 43: "Sir Frederick Hamilton, a gentleman of the King's Privy Chamber, was in early life in the service of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden ..."
  35. ^ Paul 1904, p. 45, line 41: "Margaret, who was married (contract 11 July 1601), as his first wife, when she was only 12 years old, to William, first Marquess of Douglas, and died 11 September 1623, aged 38."
  36. ^ a b Paul 1907, p. 368, line 28: "... died at Hamilton on 22 January 1574-75."
  37. ^ Edmund Lodge, Illustrations of British History, vol. 2 (London, 1791), p. 214.
  38. ^ a b Forbes-Leith 1889, p. 359, bottom: "Lord Claude Hamilton had been received into the Church by Fr. James Tyrie in 1580."
  39. ^ William Boyd, Calendar State Papers Scotland: 1581-1583, vol. 6 (Edinburgh, 1914), pp. 401-402.
  40. ^ Paul 1904, p. 39: "The Abbey of Paisley was erected into a temporal barony, and he was made a peer of Parliament under the title of Lord Paisley 24 July 1587."
  41. ^ Boyd 1936, p. 422: "The Lord Claude Hamilton the other daie at the reading of a chapter of the Bible at his table entred sodainelie into abundance of teares, with remorse and confession of his sinnes. And soone after his senses ..."
  42. ^ Metcalfe 1909, p. 194: "On October 2, 1598, a Letter of Factory and Commission signed by him ... was read to the town council ... It empowers the Master of Paisley to act as his father's factor ..."
  43. ^ a b Paul 1904, p. 39, line 28: "... and by her [Margaret] who died in March 1616, had issue ..."
  44. ^ a b Holmes 2004, p. 778, right column: "Lord Claud lived in retirement for over twenty years, dying in 1621, and was buried in Paisley Abbey"
  45. ^ Henderson 1890, p. 144: "Paisley died in 1622, and was buried in the abbey of Paisley."
  46. ^ Fryde et al. 1986, p. 61, line 16: "James VI … acc. 24 Jul. 1567 ..."
  47. ^ Fryde et al. 1986, p. 44, line 1: "James I ... acc. 24 Mar. 1603 ..."
  48. ^ Paul 1904, p. 40, line 25: "but he [Claud Hamilton of Shawfield] died in Dublin 19 October 1614."


  • Bain, Joseph, ed. (1898). Calendar of the State Papers Relating to Scotland and Mary, Queen of Scots 1547–1603. Vol. 1. Edinburgh: Her Majesty’s General Register House. OCLC 1137227125. – 1547 to 1563
  • Boyd, William K., ed. (1907). Calendar of the State Papers Relating to Scotland and Mary, Queen of Scots 1547–1603. Vol. 5. Edinburgh: Her Majesty’s General Register House. OCLC 1137227125. – 1574 to 1581
  • Boyd, William K., ed. (1936). Calendar of the State Papers Relating to Scotland and Mary, Queen of Scots 1547–1603. Vol. 10. Edinburgh: Her Majesty’s General Register House. OCLC 1137227125. – 1589 to 1593
  • Burke, Bernard (1869). A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire (31st ed.). London: Harrison. OCLC 786186201. (for details on his siblings and children)
  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hamilton (family)" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 12 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 878–879.{{cite encyclopedia}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Paisley, Claud Hamilton, Lord" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 20 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 519.{{cite encyclopedia}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
Peerage of Scotland
New title Lord Paisley
Succeeded by