First name
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Extensive and numerous biographies of the man exist providing information on his family and full career. It has long been erroneously asserted that James, Marquis of Hamilton served as the General commander of a mixed British force of c.8000 men under King Gustav Adolf from 1630-2 and that this force was decimated by disease. However, half of Hamilton's army appears to have evaded the Swedes' scrupulous muster-keeping as they do not appear in the Military Archive records, and most references to Hamilton and his army exist in Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna's correspondence. Indeed, close reading of the sources reveal that in fact he brought over the largest single military unit from the British Isles comprising a maximum of 12,000 men (although 8,000 is also quoted). These included Scottish, English and Irish soldiers, many of whom landed in Germany by July 1631. The Marquis began his commission as colonel in the Swedish army in 1630. In October 1630 Chancellor Oxenstierna informed King Gustav II Adolf that Hamilton's "English" army on the Weser would comprise one of the 5 Swedish armies to be mobilised in Pomerania, and he recommended that it should be in place before spring the following year. Hamilton was to be assisted by Colonel Alexander Leslie [SSNE 1], by then a veteran of some 20 years standing. Hamilton's army, unlike the 4 others, was responsible for its own expenses (either directly from King Charles I or through the "English" - so noted - merchants based in Germany) and this may account for the lack of Swedish military records for this unit. In fact Hamilton's army was authorised to contain 6000 Scots and 6000 English and is known to have reached at least 8000 in strength. On his way to Germany, Hamilton spent four days with Christian IV of Denmark in Frederikstad from 25-29 July 1630. Both his Scottish and English forces had by this time joined up and were en route to the continent in a fleet of c. 40 vessels. During the assault on the castle at Creuznach, Hamilton "out of desire to satisfie and enforme himselfe, being something farre advanc't alone by himselfe; was friendly advised by the king not to be so hazardous, not to adventure his person singly, so neere unto the enemies". Hamilton met with Gustav II Adolf and Frederick of Bohemia and heard a church service with them in St Laurences on 11 June 1631. Hamilton's army moved into Brandenburg by August and took part in the siege of Magdenburg with General Banier around the middle of November. The following year the Marquis's army of Scots and English were stationed around Halberstadt and Duke William of Saxe-Weimar summoned them to join up with him. By the orders of Gustav Adolf the regiment had army had supported themselves with their own money and had been reduced to two regiments. The English one was commanded by the Scot Sir William Bellenden [SSNE 1969] while the Scottish one was commanded by Sir Alexander Hamilton (Dear Sandy) [SSNE 1348]. These forces joined with others and continued on to engage those of the Duke of Bavaria. However, by October 1632, Gustav Adolf cashiered the Scottish and English regiments of Hamilton due to the weakness of the companies. As 'reformadoes', these men were ordered to wait upon the king's person with the promise of good quarters and preference. King Charles 1 sent James Hamilton to Scotland in May 1638 to determine the extent of the disorder brewing in that kingdom and to try to bring it under control. In a letter to Charles 1, dated Dalkeith 24 June 1638, Hamilton offers six pieces of 'battrie [...] that uas sent me frome Sued', although he notes that being of foreign provenance there may be difficulty in obtaining the right ammunition for them. One 'Broune the foounder' is recommended as capable of rectifying that want. There is an engraving in Sweden of Hamilton by P. Lisebetius, see S. Strömbom, ed. Index över svenska porträtt 1500-1850 i svenska porträttarkivets samlingen, 2 vols (Stockholm, 1935, 1939), vol.1, p.355.

The Swedish Intelligencer: The First Part (London, 1632), pp.108-109; The Swedish Intelligencer: The Second Part (London, 1632), pp.80, 235; The Swedish Intelligencer: The Third Part (London, 1633), pp.30, 71; The Swedish Intelligencer: The Fourth Part (London, 1633), pp.107-116; R. Monro, His Expedition with a worthy Scots Regiment called Mac-Keyes (2 vols., London, 1637), passim and II, The List of the Scottish Officers in Chiefe; For further information anent his Swedish levy consult the Register of the Privy Council, 2nd series, IV passim; Acts of the Privy Council of England, vol.46, 1630-1631, edited by P. A. Penfold (London: HMSO, 1964), pp.264 and 367-368; Swedish Riksarkiv, P. Sondén, Militärachefer i svenska arméen och deras skrivelser; Rikskansleren Axel Oxenstiernas skrifter och brefvexling, first series, V, pp.647, 660, 661, 666, 667; National Archives of Scotland, Hamilton Muniments, GD 406/1 numerous documents regarding the Swedish levy; National Library of Scotland, MS 3135, f.7, Gustav II Adolf to Marquis of Hamilton, 1631. The Hamilton Papers, ed S.R.Gardiner, Camden Soc, 1880, p.15; Alexia Grosjean, An Unofficial Alliance (Brill, Leiden, 2003), pp.88-105, remains th emost comprehensive source on the Hamilton army. See also Steve Murdoch, Network North: Scottish Kin, Commercial and Covert Associations in Northern Europe, 1603-1746 (Brill, Leiden, 2006), pp.41, 43, 46, 289, 293; M.C.Fissel, The Bishops' Wars: Charles I's Campaigns against Scotland, 1638-1640 (CUP, 1994), pp.4, 13, 23, 83-84.


Bishops Wars; English Civil Wars

Service record

Arrived 1630-10-01, as GENERAL of BRITISH
Departed 1632-10-31, as GENERAL OF BRITISH
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY