Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Hamilton (writer)’

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Hamilton (writer)
1789 – 7 December 1842


Thomas Hamilton

Thomas Hamilton was born in Pisa, Tuscany. He was the second son of William Hamilton , professor of anatomy and botany, Glasgow, and was younger brother of Sir William Hamilton, the metaphysician. 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.’

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.

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 Ambrosianæ’ for February 1826. Hogg in his ‘Autobiography’ credits him with a considerable share in some of the ‘ploys’ led by Lockhart.

Hamilton married in 1820, and for several summers he and his wife lived at Lockhart’s cottage of Chiefs wood, near Abbotsford, 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.

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 R. T. Farquharson, 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.

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.

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

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