James Hamilton was born around 1740. He married twice and had several children including John Hamilton, and Richard Hamilton.
John Hamilton went to sea and became involved in the Battle of Camperdown in 1797 then was later in charge of the Dover to Calais ferry, with his regular passengers including British and Belgian Royalty. He was knighted for his services during the 1840s.
Richard Hamilton became an apprentice tailor and set up business in the same street as his older brother John in Dover.
Both John and Richard had families, the descendants of whom are spread around the world today. This book follows the story of Richard’s children – in particular Richard Hamilton the Second who, after following his father’s trade as a tailor for some years eventually decided to emigrate with his family to South Australia .
The British Government was keen to establish a colony in South Australia to discourage the French from doing the same. There was nothing there and the Hamilton family and their fellow travellers became true pioneers in a new land.
From the Preface of the Third Edition
- This is the story of the Hamilton family. At least that might have been the good intention of the author when he set out to discover that story twenty years ago. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that this is the incomplete story of just a small part of one of the families who bear the name Hamilton. Nevertheless, it is the story of where they came from; how they met; and where they went after that. It is a true story. That is, it is not a fiction. It is about things and people who really existed. But, how little we know. Even when we think we know everything. For even everything is finite. With a beginning. And an end. We do not know what came before the beginning, or what will come after the end. We do not even know whether there was a beginning, or whether there will be an end. We might believe in some things. And there might be some things we might like to believe in. But, often, we do not know for certain. We do not know who James Hamilton was, or where he came from. Yet we know that James Hamilton was the father of Richard Hamilton. And we also know that there were many people named James Hamilton. Who was who? And which was which? Unable to distinguish one from the other, this may be the story of several people named James Hamilton. And a few others who came and went along the way. For such is life. Full of people. Coming and going. Sometimes staying. Sometimes not. And in that process of coming and going, we might meet people and ask, ‘Are you the James Hamilton I’m looking for?’ And while the answer might ultimately be, ‘No, I’m a different James Hamilton’, it does not matter, for we are, all of us, at some point related to each other, and the story of one person is just as important, and just as interesting, as the story of another. In the end, none of us is more important. And none of us is most important. We have no immortal control over the atoms of our existence. Or where they came from, and where they will go. Yet, briefly, they are given to us, and we can choose to do good; or evil; or nothing at all. It is what we do or do not do that influences others and is passed on to future generations, just as it is what others have done before us that has influenced us in our lives. Remember the lines that William Shakespeare gave to Marc Antony at Julius Caesar’s funeral,
- Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones. So let it be with Caesar.
- Beware the fate of Caesar. This is the story of men, and women, whose deeds, good, evil, or indifferent, have long been interred with their bones. This is a true story. But we do not know everything. And one story is as good as another.
- The third edition contains new discussion regarding speculation that the Hamiltons of South Australia were related to a James Hamilton, son of the 6th Earl of Abercorn, and Charles Hamilton of Painshill in Surrey. This author’s research has failed to find irrefutable evidence of such a connection.
- There is also considerable new discussion regarding the presence or otherwise, of William Holmes Hamilton on board the Duke of York in 1836. Earlier editions repeated stories told widely by Hamilton descendants that William Holmes Hamilton was on board the Duke of York in 1836 when it landed at Kangaroo Island. Since then, extensive correspondence with members of the Kangaroo Island Historical Society have led to a modification of this view.
A Response to The Hamiltons 2nd Edition
- Just a note to say how much I admire your book on the Hamiltons. It is a remarkably thorough piece of work, and I can only wonder about how much research went into it. I am a direct descendant of Richard Hamilton, who emigrated to South Australia in 1837, through Frank and Henry Hamilton. …. your book … astonishes me with its thoroughness and depth of research. …
The Hon Reg Hamilton, Deputy President, Fair Work Australia
Purchase the 2022 3rd Edition of The Hamiltons:
The 2022 Third edition of The Hamiltons is available as a softcover book in either colour (ISBN: 9781034929574) or black and white (ISBN 9781034929574). The colour version is also available as an eBook / PDF format.
Click on the following links to preview and order your preferred copy.
The Hamiltons 1762-1862 (Black & White Edition) (ISBN 9781034929574) This version is only available as a black and white softcover book.