James Hamilton, 1st Lord Hamilton, 6th Lord of Cadzow (c1415 - 6 November 1479) was a Scottish nobleman, scholar and politician.

Early life

James Hamilton was the son of James Hamilton of Cadzow, 5th Laird of Cadzow. He was born at Cadzow Castle, South Lanarkshire. He first appears on record on a charter of 1426, granting him the rights to the lands of Dalserf, which had been alienated by his father.

Douglas connection

Hamilton was intimately connected with the powerful House of Douglas: his mother was a daughter of the Douglas Lord of Dalkeith, and also through his marriage in 1439/1440 with Lady Euphemia Graham, the youthful widow of Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Douglas and daughter of Euphemia Stewart, Countess of Strathearn. Hamilton became stepfather to the young 6th Earl of Douglas, his brother David, both who would be murdered in November 1440 at the 'Black Dinner' at Edinburgh Castle in the presence of James II. Furthermore he was the stepfather of Margaret Douglas, known as the "Fair Maid of Galloway", who was to marry her cousins William Douglas, 8th Earl of Douglas, and James Douglas, 9th Earl of Douglas.

Laird o' Cadzow to Lord Hamilton

Before 1440 he achieved the status of Knighthood, and around 1440/1441 he inherited his father's estates.

In 1445, Hamilton received a charter creating him a Lord of Parliament. This charter raised all his estates into the entail of that rank, with its Capital Messuage at the Orchard, (later Hamilton Palace), at Cadzow. Furthermore the charter stated that henceforth the lands would be known as Hamilton as they are today.

Hamilton accompanied his stepson in law, the 8th Earl of Douglas, to Rome in 1450, and there obtained permission from the Holy See to convert the Parish Church at the new burgh of Hamilton into a Collegiate Establishment, with endowments for a Provost and six Canons.

Royal displeasure

Hamilton is thought to have accompanied the Earl of Douglas to his fatal meeting with James II at Stirling Castle in 1452. He was certainly with the 9th Earl of Douglas a month after the murder and following the King's ravaging of Douglasdale and Hamilton's lands in Clydesdale. A concord was reached between the King and the Douglas faction at Douglas Castle, in August 1452; it was to last until 1455. In 1453, Hamilton was in England, again with the 9th Earl of Douglas, arranging the release of his brother in law, Malise Graham, Earl of Strathearn. For this action Strathearn granted Hamilton the lands of Elliestoun in Linlithgowshire. Hamilton was again in London the following year, but was back in Scotland by February 1455.

Siege of Abercorn and fall of the Black Douglas

In March of 1455, King James took to the field against Douglas, sacking his properties and burning his crops. Hamilton's lands, he being a partisan of the Douglases, were also particularly devastated. James turned his attention to the mighty Douglas stronghold of Abercorn Castle, and set about besieging it. Douglas mustered his men from Douglasdale, Galloway and the Forest; Hamilton, his levies from Clydesdale. The troops marched to raise the siege, but the Earl of Douglas' indecision on a plan of attack is said to have perplexed Hamilton, and cause him to withdraw his support for the Douglas cause. Hamilton changed sides and became a partisan of the Royal party. There is evidence to suggest that Hamilton's uncle, James Livingstone, 1st Lord Livingston had a part in this change of heart. Douglas fled to England, his Castle of Abercorn was slighted, and two of his brothers died at or following the Battle of Arkinholm; finally Douglas' great fortalice of Threave Castle fell and Douglas was attainted, all his enormous patrimony forfeit.

Return to favour

Following the collapse of the Douglas rebellion, Hamilton was warded at Roslin Castle, in Midlothian for a short while. As recompense for his Volte-Face, Hamilton was created Sheriff of Lanark, in July of 1455, and certain of the Earl of Douglas' forfeited lands were made over to him. These, and his existing lands, being confirmed in Royal charters of October that year. The Barony of Hamilton was increased to include the lands of Drumsergard, Cessford, Kinneil etc., and carefully entailed to whosoever might bear the name and Chief arms of Hamilton. Hamilton was made Bailie of the Priory of Lesmahagow, a Douglas foundation, and was granted the privilege of the lands of Finnart. Hamilton's new patron was the new Lord of Douglas, George Douglas, 4th Earl of Angus, the head of the "Red line" of the House of Douglas, and a supporter of the King.

Marriage and issue

Hamilton married first Lady Euphemia Graham, by whom he had a daughter:

  • Elizabeth Hamilton (c1442-c1517)

He married secondly Princess Mary Stewart of Scotland, neasrly 40 years his junior, daughter of James II of Scotland, and widow of Thomas Boyd, Earl of Arran. By Princess Mary, Hamilton had three children:


Offspring of James Hamilton, 1st Lord Hamilton and Euphemia Graham  ¢
Name Birth Death Joined with
Elizabeth Hamilton (c1442-c1517)

Offspring of James Hamilton, 1st Lord Hamilton and Mary Stewart, Princess of Scotland (1453-1488)  ¢
Name Birth Death Joined with
Elizabeth Hamilton (1473-?) 1473 Hamilton, Lanarkshire, Scotland Matthew Stewart, 2nd Earl of Lennox (c1472-1513)
James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran (c1475-1529) 1475 Scotland 1529 United Kingdom Elizabeth Home Janet Bethune (1490-1522) Beatrix Drummond [[|Elizabeth Home]] Janet Bethune (1490-1522) Beatrix Drummond
Robert Hamilton, Seigneur d'Aubigny (c1479)

Offspring of James Hamilton, 1st Lord Hamilton and Janet Calderwood (bef 1465)  ¢
Name Birth Death Joined with
John Hamilton of Broomhill (bef1479-c1550)


Peerage of Scotland
New title Lord Hamilton
1445 – 1479
Succeeded by
James Hamilton

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Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General
₪ Wedding
¢ Children
  • Wikipedia
2 Wedding 2
  • "between February 1474 and April 1474", according to thePeerage.
¢2 Children 2
  • Wikipedia et al
2 Wedding 3
  • Liaison was presumably before the year of his death, but more evidence is desired.
¢3 Children 3

Robin Patterson