Alfred, 13th Duke of Hamilton

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Lieutenant Alfred Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 13th Duke of Hamilton and 10th Duke of Brandon TD, DL (6 March 1862 – 16 March 1940) was a Scottish nobleman and sailor.

Hamilton was born at Shanklin, Isle of Wight in 1862, the son of Captain Charles Douglas-Hamilton (1808-1873), a great-great-grandson of the 4th Duke of Hamilton.  He succeeded his fourth cousin, the 12th Duke, who died in 1895.

He served as a young man in the Royal Navy, and gained a reputation for being able to dive under the keels of the battleships on which he served, without any equipment, reappearing on the opposite side of the ship to the amazement of his crewmates. He was persuaded to leave in 1888 by his fourth cousin the twelfth Duke in 1890.

There was a quite serious possibility that Alfred would provide a good match for the heirless twelfth duke's daughter, Lady Mary. These hopes of maintaining continuity were dashed however in 1890, when Hamilton was partially paralysed by a rare tropical disease he had caught whilst on his last tour of duty. Hamilton recovered however and succeeded in 1895. Whilst inheriting all entailed property and assets from his cousin and a £1 million debt, a large share of the Hamilton lands and properties went to Lady Mary, latterly the Duchess of Montrose. The properties that left the Hamilton family at this time included Brodick Castle on Arran, which had been owned by the Hamiltons for 500 years.

One property that did not leave the family was Hamilton Palace, the main family seat. However, the Duke had offered the palace to the Navy during World War I for use as a hospital. Following the end of the war it was considered necessary to demolish it due to subsidence, blamed on the family's own coal mines. Hamilton moved to Dungavel House, which had previously been a Hamilton shooting lodge on moorland close to Strathaven.

Hamilton was Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the 4th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry. He was also Honorary Colonel of the 6th Battalion, the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).

Hamilton married on 4 December 1901, at the parish church, Newton Tony, to Nina Mary Benita Poore, daughter of Major Robert Poore, who went on to found the Animal Defence and Anti-Vivisection Society. They had four sons and three daughters:
Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 14th Duke of Hamilton
Lady Jean Douglas-Hamilton
George Douglas-Hamilton, 10th Earl of Selkirk
Lady Margaret Douglas-Hamilton
Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton
Lord David Douglas-Hamilton
Lady Mairi Nina Douglas-Hamilton

Hamilton's sons made RAF history by all being of the rank of Squadron Leader or above at the outbreak of World War II.

Hamilton died shortly after his 78th birthday, on 16 March 1940 at the family's property in Dorset, Ferne House.

David Douglas Hamilton and Prunella Stack Lady Margaret Drummond-Hay (née Douglas-Hamilton)
Lord David Douglas-Hamilton and his fiancee, Ann Prunella Stack Lady Margaret Drummond-Hay (née Douglas-Hamilton)

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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024