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Miscellaneous - James Hamilton

James Hamilton; Scotland's Forgotten Hero
The founder of this family was a descendant from the Raploch branch of the Hamilton family. James Hamilton was the eldest son of James Hamilton of Raploch and was to be the first of the branch of the Stonehouse Hamiltons. When he later married Margaret, daughter and sole heiress of Alexander Mowat of Stonehouse, he acquired a considerable portion of the barony of Stonehouse by his wife.

During the reign of Henry VIII of England, Henry tried to reduce Scotland to a mere dependency of England by sending the Earl of Hertford, with Admiral Viscount Lisle, up the Firth of Forth with a fleet of 200 ships, besides smaller craft, and an army of 20,000 men to crush the Scots in 1544. When the news of this formidable force reached the ears of the Scottish nobles they were terror stricken and fled for their own safety. Hertford disembarked his troops and artillery, occupying for four days. It was only when the English army was on its way to Leith, that the Earl of Arran, Huntly and Argyle raised a few troops, and an attempt was made to prevent their passage further. Unfortunately, they were repulsed and made haste their retreat to Linlithgow. The English entered Leith without further opposition and the town was given to the army to plunder.

The inhabitants of Edinburgh attempted to resist the invading foe barricading the gates, as Hertford was coming with the intent to burn and destroy. He stated that the one and only condition on which he would withdraw his army was if they would deliver up their young Queen (Mary of Scotland). Henry VIII wished to gain supremacy of Scotland by arranging a marriage between Mary and his son Edward, but this was not the wish of the Scots.

The demand of Hertford’s was sternly refused. The citizens prepared to resist and were deserted by their Provost. Notwithstanding this, the inhabitants made a desperate resistance, keeping Hertford at bay until the heavy artillery was brought from Leith. As night came, further resistance was hopeless, and the citizens carried off as much as they could abandoning their city. When Hertford returned next day he found an Edinburgh deserted except for the garrison held by Captain James Hamilton, Laird of Stonehouse; a gentleman of great military skill and renown and one of Scotland’s staunchest patriots.

The enemy overwhelmed the city and there laid siege to the castle; but, under their heavy artillery, Hamilton displayed such heroic
skill and valour in defence of the garrison that the English found it impossible to capture the fortress. They constructed batteries and availed themselves of all the engineering skill at their command, but dauntless, Hamilton kept up an incessant and harassing fire. This was directed with precision at some of the principal officers of the besiegers, compelling them to end the siege. The English, in baffled rage and disappointment, set about the destruction of the defenceless city. Edinburgh was said to have burned for three days while the retreating English army proceeded slowly along the coast destroying all that stood in their path.

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