Anne Hamilton

Title: 
3rd Duchess of Hamilton
Dates: 
16th January 1632 - 17th October 1716

Anne Hamilton was the daughter of Lady Mary Fielding and James Hamilton 3rd Marquis of Hamilton and later, 1st Duke of Hamilton.
Her mother died in childbirth leaving 5 delicate children. In hope of improving their health, Anne's father moved the family to Chelsea where the air was better. However, only Anne and her younger sister, Susanna survived.

At the outbreak of civil war, Anne was sent to be bought up by her grandmother at Hamilton Palace. For 5 years and was a witness to the running of the vast Hamilton estates until her grandmother died in 1647. In 1649, Anne's father was executed.Her uncle inherited and became the 2nd Duke of Hamilton until 1651, when he was fatally wounded at the battle of Worcester. Anne then became the 3rd Duchess of Hamilton in her own right.

Aged 19, Anne should have been Scotland's greatest heiress, however, all her estates were confiscated due to debts contracted by her father and uncle. Anne's kinsman, Earl of Abercorn claimed that all the estates were rightfully his, on the grounds that the family titles were entailed on the male line. When he died, Anne's uncle broke the entail and this lawsuit continued for years. This was a trying time for Anne, for a time she had to take refuge in a small house near Hamilton Palace.

On 29th April 1656, Anne married William Douglas, Earl of Selkirk. This is arguably a surprising match as Anne was Protestant with strong presbyterian principles and William was Catholic. Eventually, the couple paid fines that allowed them to reclaim Anne's lost estates.

At the Restoration of 1660, Charles II gave Anne £25,000 in sterling and made William Duke of Hamilton for life at Anne's request.

The Duke and Duchess had 13 children (7 sons and 6 daughters) and spent years rebuilding their estate. After the Duke's death, Anne continued with their many plans. She rebuilt the Hamilton Burgh School and School house, provided and large new Almshouse, a woolen manufactory and spinning school. On arran she introduced coalmining, a salt pan and a ferry boat. In support of her beloved prebyterian church she gave silver communion cups to all the churches on her estate.

Anne died aged 84 and is remembered as 'Good Duchess Anne'.

Sources
The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women
Short extract by Rosalind K. Marshall
The Hamilton Family, Portrait of Anne Hamilton (1632-1716)
Short extract from the Hamilton Palace website.
The Restoration Settlement
Short extract from the 'History Learning Site'.