Updated/Edited: 4 Apr 2015
Transcribed by: Teresa Rust
By Charles William Hamilton
In presenting this little book to the public I wish to call the reader’s attention to the obvious fact that it is more a memorandum compiled by my father of the known records concerning the Hamilton Family in America than a history of the Family. There are many omissions, but the facts as set forth are, I believe, reliable, being largely obtained from contemporaneous documents after careful study.
Pride in ancestry has led to minute preservation in the old countries of lineal descents, but in the new world this has been shamefully neglected to the extent that few of us can trace our progenitors back to the Revolutionary War period, a scant century and a half, and many of the links that bind us to Europe are broken and lost.
Therefore, anything that can help us to reassemble and re-weld the chain of descent is valuable, and I am sure that my father had this in mind while compiling these all too brief pages. Perhaps they will be of aid to others in completing the work he was unable to accomplish.
C. W. Hamilton, Jr.
March 1, 1933
The writer has failed to find the name Hamilton mentioned in any record of New England dated before the year 1650. However, shortly after that year it suddenly becomes a fairly common name in the Records of Massachusetts. Among widely scattered branches of the Hamilton Family, that are unable to trace their lineage back to a single progenitor, the writer has found a common tradition that, “The first Hamilton who came to America, from Scotland, was a sea captain in the kings service, and he had four sons, three of whom settled in Massachusetts and one in Rhode Island.” My grandmother told me, as it had been handed down to her, the story when I was a small boy, and since then I have heard it from various descendants of the first John Hamilton, also several times from persons that traced back to the first William Hamilton, who lived in Rhode Island and Connecticut, yet the relationship between these ancestors has never been established, so far as known. I have never heard the story from a descendant of David’s*and the descendants of John of Rutland, James* of Worcester and Hugh of Blan[d]ford almost invariably claim to be of Scotch-Irish stock.”
[*= There is a David Hamilton on the ‘John and Sara’ list.]
[*= There is a James Hamilton on the ‘John and Sara’ list.]
Leaving tradition aside, we find that the name first occurs in a list of prisoners of war that is recorded in Suffolk County, (Mass.) deeds, liber one, fol. five. A copy of this paper is published in the New England His. & Gen. Record, Vol I, p. 377.
On the 8th. day of November (old style) 1651, there sailed from Gravesend, England, a vessel called the “John & Sara,” John Greene, Master, bound for New England and consigned to “Mr. Thomas Kemble of Charlestown by Jo: Beex, Robt. Rich and William Greene,” and from that point to the Barbadoes, with such goods as the said Kemble should conceive would turn to the best account in the Barbadoes and there consigned to Mr. Charles Rich. This consignment contained “Ironwork, household stuffe & other provisions for Planters and Scotch prisoners freed by ordnance of Parleament dat 20th. of October 1651.” The following is a copy of the consignment:
London, this 11: of November 1651.
mr. Tho: Kemble.
Wee whose names are vnder written freighters of the sh(ip) John and Sara where of is Comandr John Greene doe
Cape Cod, and was the first person who killed (single handed, 1692) a whale upon that coast, for which he was persecuted, as one who delt with evil spirits. He afterwards removed to Rhode Island.” Another Hamilton living about this time on Cape Cod, is spoken of in the N. E. H. & G. R. Vol., 6, p. 168 as a mong tje “First Settlers of Eastham, Mass.,” “Danl Hamilton m. Mary —–ch: Grace, b. Aug. 3, 1694. Thomas, b. Sept. 1, 1695.” and again in H.E.H.&G.R. Vol, 26, p. 191. “Samuel Smyth of Hingham born, July 11, 1641, m. Eastham June 3, 1667, Mary d. of Gyles Hopkins who came over with his father in the Mayflower 1620, was a trader, died, Eastham, Mar. 20, 1696, ch: Mary b. June 5, 1669, m. Daniel Hamilton.”
In N.E.H.&G.R. Vol., 5, are published several letters written by Col Charles Lidget to Francis Foxcroft of Boston. In one dated, “London, 5:11-1690.” Lidget mentions having left money “with Mr. Jeffries (res. not stated) to pay the account of Mr. Chrisostom Hamilton,” but there is nothing to show where he resided. In another letter he says, “I refer you to Coll Andrew Hamilton Govr. of both Jerzyes, and Postmaster Genl of all North America, who soon intends from York to Boston, where his first acquaintance will be sought of you, his converse youl be pleased with and his friendship I believe to be very firm.”
I. JOHN HAMILTON
The late Frank M. Clark in an article written in 1897 says, “John Hamilton, who was doubtless one of those (prisoners) sent over before the John and Sarah shipment, first appears in the records of Charlestown, where in 1658, he had a small grant of land, but where, no other record of him appears. Several of these Scotchmen, about that time, made a settlement in the Southerly part of Concord and among them was John Hamilton.” What authority Mr. Clark had for stating that John Hamilton was one of the prisoners sent previous to the “John & Sara” shipment is unknowen to the writer, who has never found evidence to show whether he came before or after that shipment, nor even that he was a prisoner of war, however, he considers it highly probable that John Hamilton did come as a prisoner of war. That he owned land in Charlestown is shown by Wyman’s “Genealogies and Estates of Charlestown,” where he states, “Hamilton John, Estate, had 4 acres of woods, 3 commons 1658.”
In an article published in the “Boston Transcript” of September 16, 1908, speaking of John Hamilton of Concord, it says, “It would also seem probable that he was the John Hamilton given as one of the founders of the “Scots Charitable Society.” Again referring to the “N.E.H.&G.R.,” we find in Volume 56, “On the 6th., of January 1657 a score or more Scotsman
[Wheeler-Merriam House in Concord, a 360 Street View of the Elm Brook Meadow area at Google 477 Virginia Road, Concord, Massachusetts.]