House of Hamilton in its Anglo-Scottish setting in the seventeenth century : with a calendar of the correspondence in the Hamilton Archives at Lennoxlove, to 1712
Marshall, Marshall, Rosalind K.
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This thesis has been based on a detailed examination of the ten thousand two hundred letters which form the extant 17th century correspondence in His Grace the Duke of Hamilton's archives, and of approximately ten thousand household, building and estate accounts in the same Collection. A Calendar of the letters forms the appendix to the thesis; a Calendar of the accounts is in preparation. The exact period under consideration is 1625-1712, from the succession of the 1st duke to the family titles until the death of his grandson the 4th duke. It has often been assumed that in the society of seventeenth century Scotland there was a great gulf between the anglicised peerage and the rest of the population, that the leading members of the Scottish aristocracy enjoyed a high standard of living in England while their fellow-countrymen remained at home in comparatively primitive conditions. The present survey suggests that this view is inaccurate. The dukes of Hamilton were Scotland's premier peers, and the 1st and 2nd dukes did spend a large part of their adult lives in London. Nevertheless, they retained strong links with their own estates which they visited frequently. After the Civil War, the family became once more firmly based at Hamilton. They had their children educated locally, married their daughters into the Scottish peerage, and formed the focal point of the local community. Their houses were large, their furniture fine and their gardens well laid-out, but in this they were no different from their contemporaries of a similar status. A comparison with the family papers of other Scottish peers shows that they shared a common standard of living and indeed a common outlook. It would therefore seem probable that throughout the seventeenth century the Scottish peerage remained an integral part of Scottish society, living at home in a manner similar to that of the gentry and richer merchants, and relying to a large extent on local loyalties. Only towards the end of the period, with the coming of union with England and the emergence of a party political system, did the situation begin to change.