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MS Eng 508.1

Hamilton, Henry, d. 1796. Henry Hamilton papers: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: b
Call No.: MS Eng 508.1
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Hamilton, Henry, d. 1796.
Title: Henry Hamilton papers,
Date(s): 1768-1933.
Quantity: 1 collection (2 boxes (.75 linear ft.)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Abstract: Papers of British officer Henry Hamilton and correspondence and other papers related to the acquisition and publication of these and other Hamilton manuscripts.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

*2001M-12. Original Hamilton materials were gift of: Mrs. Caroline Isabella Hamilton Rice, Grange Erin, Douglass, County Cork, Ireland; received: 1902 Mar. 28
Jacob Schieffelin materials were gift of: Howland Pell, Mary S. Sayers and John Lawrence Schieffelin, 1 Wall Street, New York, New York; received: 1933 Oct. 25.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

Henry Hamilton Papers (MS Eng 508.1). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Related Materials

See also HOLLIS database for other materials owned by the Houghton Library relating to Henry Hamilton and his family.

Biographical / Historical

Hamilton's father was Henry Hamilton (1692-1743), MP for Donegal, County Cork, Ireland. Henry Hamilton was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1734? as the fourth of seven children. He spent his youth in Cork and was commissioned into the 15th Regiment of Foot in the British Army. He earned distinction in the British victories at the battles of Louisburg and Quebec in the French and Indian War.
Hamilton was the British Lieutenant-Governor at Detroit from 1775-1778 and was the man responsible for implementing British Indian policy in the Old Northwest during the American Revolution. He was called the "Hair-Buyer General" by his adversary George Rogers Clark, referring to Hamilton's alleged practice of offering bounties for American scalps, but many historians have since dispelled much of this legend. In August of 1778, Hamilton learned that the Virginians under Colonel George Rogers Clark were descending the Ohio River to invade Illinois country to occupy posts there, including Vincennes on the Wabash River. Hamilton mounted an expedition to counterattack and drive the Virginians from Vincennes. He set out in September and October via the Maumee and Wabash Rivers but by February 1779 Clark retook Vincennes and took Hamilton prisoner. Hamilton was taken by the Americans to Williamsburg, Virginia and held in jail until parole was arranged in October of 1780. He was then taken to New York where he was exchanged for an American prisoner in March of 1781 and he arrived in London in June.
Hamilton was sent back to Quebec from 1782 to 1785 as Lieutenant-Governor and later Deputy-Governor. He was Lieutenant-Governor, then Governor of Bermuda from 1785-1794, and Governor of Dominica from 1794-1796. In March of 1795, at the age of 61, Hamilton married Elizabeth Lee (25 years old), daughter of Colonel Lee of Banbury, Oxfordshire. They had only one child, Mary Anne Pierpoint Hamilton, who died unmarried on 1871 Dec. 12. Hamilton died in 1796 at Antigua while still holding office.
Hamilton's older brother was Sackville Hamilton, a Privy Councillor and Chief Secretary for Ireland. It was this brother's great-granddaughter, Mrs. Rice, who donated the Hamilton material to Harvard.


Organized into the following series:

Scope and Contents

This collection of Hamilton materials include correspondence, clippings, compositions, drawings, notes, photographs, and transcripts. The series "Henry Hamilton papers" was part of the original gift sent by Mrs. Rice and contains original (or transcipt copies) of materials by, sent to, or related to Henry Hamilton and his family. The series "Papers concerning the Henry Hamilton archive" includes letters from the donor to various members of the administration of Harvard University and the Harvard College Library as well as letters to and from Librarian William Coolidge Lane regarding his research on Hamilton and his attempts to publish the journals.

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