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The Hamiltons were considered the most important of the Lowland families aspiring at one time even to the Scottish throne. Their chief is still the Premier Duke of Scotland, heir male of the house of Douglas and hereditary keeper of the Palace of Holyrood. The name is generally believed to be English in origin as there are several places named Hameltun and Hambledone etc. The first reliable record of the name in Scotland was in 1296 when Walter Fitzgilbert de Hameldone was one of these Scottish nobles to pledge allegiance to Edward I of England. After this initial support of the English, the Hamiltons lent their allegiances to Bruce during the Wars of Independence and were granted the lands of Cadzow. Later in 1474, Hamilton of Cadzow married Princess Mary, daughter of James II and their son became Earl of Arran in 1503. His grandson was made Marquis of Hamilton in 1599. At one period during the mid 1500's, a Hamilton was heir apparent to the throne, the second Earl of Arran was Regent during the minority of Mary, later Queen of Scots. James, 3rd Marquis was created Duke of Hamilton in 1643. The title passed to his daughter Anne who married William Douglas, Earl of Selkirk following the death of her uncle William, the second Duke at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. The Earl of Selkirk was created Duke of Hamilton for life thus connecting the two great families. The 4th Duke was greatly popular through his stubborn resistance to the Act of Union in 1707 and was later killed in a duel with Lord Mohun in 1712. Though sometimes credited with Jacobite sentiments, neither of the succeeding Dukes rose for the Stuarts and hence continued throughout the 18th century in their roles as great noblemen and statesmen. There are several branches of the Hamilton family, the most noteable being the Hamiltons of Abercorn, Dalzell and Innerwick.



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