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.