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James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran was born circa 1475. He was the son of James Hamilton, 1st Lord Hamilton and Mary Stewart, Princess of Scotland. He married, firstly, Elizabeth Home, daughter of Alexander Home, 2nd Lord Home and Nichole Ker, before 28 April 1490. He and Elizabeth Home were divorced on 16 November 1504 on the grounds that her first husband, Thomas Hay, previously thought dead, was in fact still alive at the time of her marriage to James. He married, secondly, Janet Bethune, daughter of Sir David Bethune, 1st of Creich and Janet Duddingston, between 11 November 1516 and 23 November 1516. He died between 26 March 1529 and 21 July 1529 at Kinneil, Scotland.
He succeeded to the title of 2nd Lord Hamilton on 6 November 1479. He fought in the naval expedition by Denmark against Sweden in 1502. He was invested as a Privy Counsellor in 1503. He was created 1st Earl of Arran on 11 August 1503. He was commanded of a Scottish fleet against England, but accomplished nothing in 1513. He held the office of a Lord of Regency in 1517. He fought in the Battle of Linlithgow on 4 September 1526, where he commanded the army for the King against Lennox.
-  Gibbs et al., CP2
-  Balfour Paul, TSP
"Authoritative" accounts state that Sir James had no issue by his 1st wife. By his 2nd wife, he had Sir James (2nd Earl), Gavin, and Ellen.
Sir James also had numerous illegitimate children (Richardson names 5 sons and 8 daughters, following TSP) by various mistresses, of whom Beatrice Drummond, and Mary Boyd are named by various secondary sources.
Further notes - TSP says "it is usually said" that Beatrice Drummond was Sir James's 1st wife, but rejects this, citing John Knox (a letter of Sir George Douglas is also cited but doesn't seem very useful).
Sir James was certainly married to Elizabeth Home by 1490, when a royal grant settled Kinneil on the couple and their lawful heirs. Future heirs, because Elizabeth was then 13 at most, being the child of her father's 2nd marriage; he had divorced his 1st wife in 1476.
Notwithstanding this, it was later claimed that the marriage was bigamous, on Elizabeth's part. TSP says "the whole circumstances of the divorce are peculiar". It refrains from saying that the case (in a Church court) has all the hallmarks of a put-up job.
Sir Thomas Hay was conveniently dead, and there's no mention of Elizabeth giving evidence at all. The case was based entirely on the depositions of alleged "witnesses" who said that Hay had stated his objection to a notary. Apparently no date was given for this proceeding, nor was any record produced, nor any notary. Nor is there any explanation of why the matter hadn't been pursued at the time, either by Hay or Hamilton. Nor is there any record of the marriage or any mention of any priest or other witness testifying to it.
Hay's failure to proceed is explained by a record in the State Papers that he was killed in 1491; but the same record says he had married a Borthwick in 1489.
Hamilton and Elizabeth apparently continued to live together until 1504, when the divorce was pronounced, and maybe until 1510, when the pronouncement was repeated.
Hamilton would go on to remarry in 1516, but in the meantime he made other arrangements. In 1512/3 he procured a royal charter stating that he had no legitimate children, and legitimating his son Sir James Hamilton of Finnart and his half-brothers Patrick and John. This was accompanied by a re-entailment of property - a skilfully ambiguous document. The clear intent was that Sir James would succeed to both the estates and the titles.
Of this son Sir James, TSP knows only that he was granted lands in Finnart in 1507, and his mother is said to have been a Boyd. Anderson quotes "Memorie of the Somervilles" saying that she was a daughter of Lord Boyd; against which, he also quotes Crawfurd saying she was Mary daughter of Boyd of Bonshaw. (Both of these are presumably otherwise-unknown daughters. Finnart's grandmother Mary was the divorced ex of Lord Boyd, suggesting a source of confusion.)
But Finnart never did succeed his father. When the Earl married Janet Beaton (or Bethune), Kinneil was resettled on the couple (and presumably the heirs of the marriage, as usual). Janet died about 1522 and the Earl in 1529, at which point his under-age eldest son by Janet, also called James, was nominated the heir, under the guardianship of no other than Sir James Hamilton of Finnart. TSP at this point (p. 366) calls Finnart the boy's uncle, making the situation appear normal; but Finnart was of course the boy's legitimated elder half-brother, and the situation wasn't normal at all.
Presumably this was the King's wish, notwithstanding that Finnart was in favour at the time. It seems Finnart would have had grounds for challenge, but he would have had little chance of success and much to lose. There were other ways (and he seems to have done very well during his time as the young Earl's "tutor"); and the boy might die anyway.
Then in 1540 Finnart became involved in a Catholic plot to dispossess Protestants, and the Earl (now of age) was on the list. You'd need to be George Smiley to figure out the web of traps and counter-traps, but it ended with the execution of Finnart.
His property was forfeited, but property was often restored to heirs. And as TSP points out, the Earl remained vulnerable, since either of the Churches could question his title and indeed his legitimacy at any time. The attitudes of the Churches to annulment, divorce and remarriage were vety ambiguous. Either of the marriages could be annulled.
According to Anderson, Sir Walter Scott, writing centuries later about the Lords of the Isles and the Macdonalds, mentions a claim that there was an irregularity in the succession at some early date. Scott's answer was (correctly) that such things happen, and he cited the Hamiltons as a case in point.
Scott had the right idea. He would have had a point if he'd cited the legitimation, but instead he claimed that Finnart was actually the child of the Earl's first marriage. So perhaps Scott was ill-informed about the details - or perhaps he was rather well-informed.
Anderson's response to this outrage is disingenuous, but he does quote documents stating that Finnart was illegitimate. But any such statement after 1504 could be based on the conception that Finnart had been bastardized by the divorce, or by the invalidity of the marriage, which could be annulled at any time. And at a later date, it was politically necessary to say Finnart was illegitimate, since otherwise you would seem to be questioning the 2nd Earl's title and might be asked to step outside.
- The House of Hamilton by George Hamilton. Skinner and Co., Edinburgh. 1933. p11.
- John Anderson, Historical and genealogical memoirs of the House of Hamilton; with genealogical memoirs of the several branches of the family (1825), p. 81 (places Beatrice Drummond as 1st wife).
- Wikipedia page.
- Marlyn Lewis.
- (TSP) Balfour Paul, Sir James: The Scots Peerage, 8+1 vols, Volume 4 (1907), page 355, II.
- Cokayne: The Complete Peerage, 1st edn, 8 vols, Volume 4 (1898), page 140, III.
- Richardson, Douglas: Magna Carta Ancestry (2011), 4 vols, Volume 2, page 403, HOUSTON 12.
- Richardson, Douglas: Plantagenet Ancestry (2010), 3 vols, Volume 2, page 260, HOUSTON 13.
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On April 13, 2014 at 07:55GMT Sir William Arbuthnot wrote:
On January 22, 2014 at 03:59GMT J Pictet wrote:
Husband of Elizabeth Home — married 1501 in Home, , Berwick, Scotlandmap Husband of Janet Beaton — married November 23, 1516 in , , Isle Arran, Scotland
On January 1, 2014 at 05:18GMT Amanda Pitts wrote:
On December 24, 2013 at 12:33GMT R. G. wrote:
James Hamilton of Torrance had a daughter Marion, no clue to his wife yet. This father should be removed. The son James of the Earl of Arran married Elizabeth Lindsay/Home and Beatrix Drummond and did not have a child Marion.
On December 24, 2013 at 12:15GMT R. G. wrote:
On December 24, 2013 at 12:12GMT R. G. wrote:
James is 19 degrees from Kevin Bacon, 24 degrees from Frank Russell Capra, 20 degrees from Mark Hamill, 22 degrees from AJ Jacobs and 16 degrees from Queen Elizabeth II of the Commonwealth Realms on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.