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Field Marshal George Douglas-Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney






Earl of Orkney arms
Arms: Quarterly, 1st grand quarter Azure a lymphad sails furled and its oars in saltire within a double tressure flory counter flory Or; 2nd and 3rd grand quarters quarterly 1st and 4th Gules three cinquefoils Ermine, 2nd and 3rd Argent a lymphad sails furled Sable; 4th grand quarter Argent a man’s heart crowned proper and on a chief Azure three stars Argent
Field Marshal George Douglas-Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney KT (9 February 1666 – 29 January 1737) was a British soldier and Scottish nobleman and the first British Army officer to be promoted to the rank of Field Marshal. The son of William Douglas, 1st Earl of Selkirk, 3rd Duke of Hamilton, he fought for William of Orange in Ireland and the Low Countries. He was raised to the peerage in 1695, and continued to serve with distinction in the War of the Spanish Succession. After these campaigns he retired from active service, taking on governorships and sitting as a representative peer in the House of Lords.

Lord George Douglas-Hamilton was born at Hamilton Palace, the fifth son of Anne Hamilton, 3rd Duchess of Hamilton and William Douglas, Earl of Selkirk. He was first trained by his uncles, Lord Dumbarton, Lord James Douglas, and Lord Angus, in military service in the 1st Regiment of Foot (then known as His Majesty's Royal Regiment of Foot).

In 1689, after entering military service, he became a lieutenant colonel, and a few months later a brevetted colonel. He and his regiment served at the battles of the Boyne and Aughrim in the Irish War. He then moved to command of the Royal Fusiliers and fought at the Battle of Steenkeerke. He moved back to the 1st Foot, participated in various battles of the Irish rebellion, and eventually fought at the battle of Landen and the 1695 Siege of Namur, both of which were fought during the War of the League of Augsburg. At Namur, however, Hamilton received a serious wound, and was eventually promoted to the rank of brigadier.

In 1695, Hamilton married Elizabeth Villiers sister to Edward Villiers, 1st Earl of Jersey, and the following year, he was raised to the Scottish peerage as Earl of Orkney, Viscount Kirkwall and Baron Dechmont.

He became a major general and fought in the War of the Spanish Succession under John
George, 1st Earl of Orkney
inscribed verso on lining canvas: Lord George Hamilton Fourth Son of William Duke of Hamilton and of / Ann Dutchess [sic] of Hamilton: He Married Elizabeth Villiers, sister to the First Earl of Jersey, by / Whom he had three Daughters, Lady Ann, Lady Frances, and Lady Hariot, Lady Ann Married the / Earl of Saunderson Kt. Of the Bath, and Lady Hariot Married the Earle of Orrery: - He was Created Earle of Orkney by King William the third, the Same King Made him Collonell [sic] of the Inniskillen [sic] / Foot in Ireland and afterwards a Brigadier upon the attack of the Terra Nova at the Siege / of Namur, and Gave him the Royal Regiment of two Battallions [sic] of Scots: Towards the / Later end of Queen Ann’s Warr [sic] he was made General of the Foot one of the Privy / Councill [sic] and Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Thistle; and For his Gallant and / Eminent Services at Blenheim, was appointed [sic] Governour [sic] of Virginia and Constable of Edinburgh Castle, all which he held till his Death: He was by King George 1st. Made / Gentleman of the Bed Chamber & one of the Privy Councill [sic], and was to have Comanded [sic] / in chief, 1000, English that were to go to assist the Dutch; and by King George, 2d. / he was made Field Marshal; the first that ever was so call’d in England, / From the Union, he was Chosen every Parli.t one of the Sixteen Peers from / Scotland: This Picture was Drawn for him in his 62d. year, he Dyed [sic] / January 29th 1737 in the 73 [text altered to ’72?’] year of his age, Buried with his wife and his / Daughter the Countess of orrery, in Taplow Church, together with [‘Noe’ crossed through] Nine / Children of the Earle of Inchiquin: / Maingaud P:t / 1724

The painting is located in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, in London.
 Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. A few years later in 1704, Orkney was promoted to lieutenant general. At the Battle of Blenheim, Orkney led the final assault on the village of Blenheim, receiving the surrender of its French defenders. Later, in June 1705, he marched his column from the Moselle to relieve the besieged city of Liège. At the Battle of Ramillies, he led the pursuit of the defeated French, and he played a major role at the Battle of Oudenarde.

In 1708, he captured two major fortifications at Tournai.  At the desperate Battle of Malplaquet, Lord Orkney's battalions led the charge toward the French entrenchments, suffering serious losses.  He remained with his army near Flanders, until the end of the war. During that time, he received a promotion to general. After the peace treaties, he received the honorary title of Colonel Commandant of his old unit, the 1st Foot.

For the next few decades, he held civilian and military positions of importance. He was installed as Governor of Edinburgh Castle, made a Lord of the Bedchamber to George I, and was Governor of Virginia in 1714, but appears never to have visited the colony. He served as a Scottish Representative Peer in six parliaments from 1707 to 1736, and was the Lord Lieutenant of Lanarkshire. In 1735 he commissioned the building of a temple at his Buckinghamshire home, Cliveden House, by the architect Giacomo Leoni. He was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal in 1736. This was the first promotion to the rank of Field Marshal in the British Army. Hamilton died a year later in his accommodation on Albemarle Street, London.

By Elizabeth Villiers, daughter of Sir Edward Villiers and Lady Frances Howard, Lord Orkney had three daughters, the eldest of which inherited his estate and title:
Lady Anne, suo jure Countess of Orkney +7.12.1756, married 29.3.1720 William O'Brien, 4th Earl of Inchiquin
Lady Frances +27.12.1772, married 27.6.1724 Thomas Lumley-Saunderson, 3rd Earl of Scarbrough
Lady Henrietta +22.8.1732, married 9.5.1728 John Boyle, 5th Earl of Cork.


See also:
•  Earls of Orkney


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