This page was last updated on 21 March 2018

Click here to 
Print this page

Biography finder





























Index of first names

James Douglas, 4th Duke of Hamilton (1658-1712)









Portrait of James, 4th Duke of Hamilton and 1st Duke of Brandon (1658-1712), by Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723) and studio - click for SCRAN ResourceJames Douglas, 4th duke of Hamilton (1658-1712), eldest son of the preceding and of Duchess Anne, succeeded his mother, who resigned the dukedom to him in 1698, and at the accession of Queen Anne he was regarded as leader of the Scottish national party. He was an opponent of the union with England, but his lack of decision rendered his political conduct ineffective.

Coming into favour with the Tory regime after 1710, he was made privy councilor (1710), duke of Brandon (1711), and ambassador to Paris (1712). He was killed in a duel by Lord Mohun(1), who also died, before he could go to France. Suspicion of foul play caused the Tories to accuse the Whigs of murdering him, alleging that the Whigs feared he was about to engineer a Jacobite restoration from France. The duel is described in Thackeray's Henry Esmond.

His son, James (1703-1743), became 5th duke, and his grandson James, 6th duke of Hamilton and Brandon (1724-1758), married the famous beauty, Elizabeth Gunning, afterwards duchess of Argyll. James George, 7th duke (1755-1769), became head of the house of Douglas on the death in 1761 of Archibald, ; duke of Douglas, whose titles but not his estates then devolved on the duke of Hamilton as heir-male.

Archibald's brother Douglas (1756-1799) was the 8th duke, and when he died childless the titles passed to his uncle Archibald (1740-1810). His son Alexander, 10th duke (1767-1852), who as marquess of Douglas was a great collector and connoisseur of books and pictures (his collections realized £397,562 in 1882), was ambassador at St. Petersburg in 1806-1807. His sister, Lady Anne Hamilton, was lady-in-waiting and a faithful friend to Queen Caroline, wife of George IV.; she did not write the Secret History of the Court of England . . . (1832) to which her name was attached. 





1. James actually met his end in the pursuit of money. A disputed inheritance caused trouble with Charles, 4th Duke of Mohun. Mohun had married Charlotte Orby, granddaughter of Charles Gerard, 1st Earl of Macclesfield, in 1691 with the hope that this match would alleviate some of his debt. Unfortunately he received no dowry for the marriage, and the couple separated shortly thereafter.

In 1701, he had accompanied the 3rd Earl of Macclesfield on a diplomatic mission to Hanover. Following the death of Macclesfield without an heir later in the year, Mohun was left most of his extensive estates, based at Gawsworth Hall, Cheshire. He spent over a decade defending his inheritance from rival claimants, most famously from James Douglas, 4th Duke of Hamilton.

Hamilton claimed the estates through his wife Elizabeth Gerard, a granddaughter of Charles Gerard, 1st Earl of Macclesfield. Mohun claimed them as the named heir of Charles Gerard, 2nd Earl of Macclesfield, to whom he had been a companion-in-arms. By 1712, Mohun's legal dispute with Hamilton over his inheritance of the Macclesfield estate was going badly and culminated in Mohun calling Hamilton out. The duel took place on the morning of the 15th November 1712 in Hyde Park. The older Hamilton mortally wounded Mohun, and was mortally wounded in turn. Hamilton's second thereafter claimed that Mohun's second George Macartney had dealt the final stroke to Hamilton whilst pretending to attend to Mohun, but the evidence was wholly inconclusive. Questions about why John Hamilton didn't stay to attempt to arrest Macartney if he'd thought that such a crime had been committed brought suspicion on his testimony. A cry for justice went up amongst the Duke's friends, including Jonathan Swift, and Macartney escaped to the continent. After attempts to repatriate him, he was tried in absentia for murder, and stripped of his regiment, but was later pardoned.

The duel so shocked polite society that the law was subsequently changed so duellers could only fight with pistols.











  • Married: BEF. 5 JAN 1686/87

Marriage 2 Elizabeth Gerard
  • Married: 17 JUL 1698
  1. Has Children James (5th Duke of Hamilton) Douglas-Hamilton b: 5 JAN 1701/02
  2. Has No Children William (MP) Douglas-Hamilton
  3. Has Children Anne Lord Douglas-Hamilton b: 12 OCT 1709 = (unm) Mary Edwardes
  4. Has No Children Elizabeth Douglas-Hamilton
  5. Has No Children Catherine Douglas-Hamilton
  6. Has No Children Charlotte Douglas-Hamilton
  7. Has Children Susan (of Hamilton) Douglas-Hamilton = Anthony Tracy-Keck


Any contributions will be gratefully accepted



Errors and Omissions

The Forum

What's new?

We are looking for your help to improve the accuracy of The Douglas Archives.

If you spot errors, or omissions, then please do let us know


Many articles could benefit from re-writing. Can you help?


If you have met a brick wall with your research, then posting a notice in the Douglas Archives Forum may be the answer. Or, it may help you find the answer!

You may also be able to help others answer their queries.

Visit the Douglas Archives Forum.


We try to keep everyone up to date with new entries, via our What's New section on the home page.

We also use the Community Network to keep researchers abreast of developments in the Douglas Archives.


Back to top


The content of this website is a collection of materials gathered from a variety of sources, some of it unedited.

The webmaster does not intend to claim authorship, but gives credit to the originators for their work.

As work progresses, some of the content may be re-written and presented in a unique format, to which we would then be able to claim ownership.

Discussion and contributions from those more knowledgeable is welcome.

Contact Us

Last modified: Wednesday, 18 July 2018