He succeeded his father as the 6th Duke of Hamilton on 15th November 1712, after his father lost the celebrated duel in Hyde Park, Westminster, with Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun, over a disputed inheritance. Lord Hamilton attended Winchester College from 1716 to 1717. Hamilton matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford on 2nd May 1718 and was created a Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) on 6th June 1719.
At the foundation of the noted charity, the Foundling Hospital in London, Hamilton was one of the charity's first governors and his name is listed on the organisation's royal charter, granted in October 1739.
He married Lady Anne Cochrane, a daughter of the 4th Earl of Dundonald, on 14th February 1723 and they had one child:
Johnston, George Harvey. "The Douglases of Angus." The Heraldry of the Douglases: With Notes on All the Males of the Family, Descriptions of the Arms, Plates and Pedigrees. Edinburgh: W. & A.K. Johnston, Limited, 1907.47. Print.
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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with James by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA.
However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line.
It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share some percentage of DNA with James: