Escutcheons of Science
William Rowan Hamilton

Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865)
[Mathematician, knighted in 1835.]

We have not yet been able to find a description of the arms of Sir William Rowan Hamilton.
(Listed below are some of the clues we have gathered so far.)

Hamilton's life and work:

Hamilton was born in Dublin (at 36 Lwr. Dominick Street) around midnight, on the night of August 4/5 1805.  His birthdate is usually listed as August 4, but he could have been born in the first moments of August 5.  His father, Archibald Hamilton, was a sollicitor who was often away on business.  William may have inherited his genius from his mother, Sarah Hutton, but he also received an exceptional, albeit lopsided, early education from an uncle he lived with in Trim for many years, the Rev. James Hamilton.  William was a child prodigy who had learned Latin, Greek and Hebrew by the age of five...

 Come back later, we're
 still working on this one...

Unimpaired to the very last, Hamilton worked on finishing the 800 pages of his Elements of Quaternions, which had occupied the last 6 years of his life.  He passed away on September 2, 1865.

Hamilton's ancestry:

William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865) was the 4th child of Archibald Hamilton and Sarah Hutton.  The relationship of Sarah Hutton with the mathematician Dr. Charles Hutton (1737-1823) has been disputed.

Hamilton's paternal grandfather was an apothecary established in Dublin with other members of his family well before the birth of his sons.  Hamilton's paternal grandmother, née Grace Mc Ferrand, was Scottish.  She was the daughter of Rev. James Mc Ferrand, parish minister of Kirkmaiden (the Maiden Kirk of Burns).  On the death of her father, Grace was brought from Scotland and adopted by Mrs. Gawen Hamilton, of Killyleagh Castle.  The marriage of Grace and [William] Hamilton probably took place in 1774 or 1775 in Dublin, with Presbyterian rites.  At the time, both newlyweds lived in St. Mary's Parish (Dublin), since Grace resided with Mrs. Gawen Hamilton on Rutland Square, whereas the groom dwelled on 30 Jervis Street.

Hamilton's maternal grandmother, née Guinant, was French.  Come back later, we're
 still working on this one...  Gules, three cinquefoil Argent 
- for HAMILTON

Heraldic and Genealogical Notes

Because of his paternal Scottish ancestry, William Rowan Hamilton may have borne arms typical of those in the Clan Hamilton, which are usually based on the most ancient Hamilton arms (Gueulles, 3 Cinquefoyles Ermine).  Following Burton (1623) and others, these may be traced to the lords of the manor of Hamilton (anciently Hameldon, or Hameldun), County of Leicester.

"Gules a cinquefoil Ermine" was the paternal coat-of-arms of the de Bellamonts, the old Earls of Leicester (this was alledgedly also borne by their ancestors, the Counts of Mellent in Normandy).  It seems fairly natural that the Hamiltons bore arms derived from those of the Earls of Leicester, from whose grant they held their land because of family ties  (the Hamiltons descended from a younger son of the 2nd or 3rd Earl of Leicester).

One member of this Leicestershire family was Gilbert de Hameldun who founded the Clan Hamilton in Scotland, late in the 13th century.  The Earls of Leicester already had strong ties with Scotland, since Roger de Bellamont (a son of the 2nd Earl) was bishop of St. Andrews in 1198 and later became Chancellor of Scotland.

The motto of the Hamilton Clan is "Through" or "Throu".  The crest is described as:

An oak tree growing from a ducal crown;  across the tree, a saw.

The crest and the motto commemorate the escape into Scotland of Sir Gilbert Hamilton in 1323 [or 1325].  At the court of King Edward II, Sir Hamilton expressed admiration for Robert Bruce, upon which he was struck by John de Spencer.  A duel followed and de Spencer fell.  Hamilton fled from England, hotly pursued.  Near the border, Hamilton and his esquire donned the dress of wood cutters and began working.  As the soldiers passed, his esquire hesitated, and Hamilton called out "Throu" [equivalent to "Timber"].  They were not recognized, and Hamilton's life was saved...

 Come back later, we're
 still working on this one...


Noting that the middle name "Rowan" is associated with the Hamiltons of Killyleagh Co. Down & Shangannagh Co. Dublin, James Dempster provided the following arms, listed in 1910 for Col. Gawin William Rowan Hamilon JP DL (b 1844 eldest son of Capt. Archibald Rowan Hamilton JP) with children Archibald James Hamilton and Orfla Melita Rowan Hamilton (m. Arthur Fisher) :

Gules, three cinquefoils pierced Ermine and, on a chief Or, a heart of the first.
Crest:
A demi-antelope Argent attired Or, holding between the forelegs a heart Gules.

The Rowan-Hamilton family still holds Killyleagh castle, which is to this day the oldest occupied castle in Ireland.  A Scottish ancestor of theirs, Sir James Hamilton, had taken over the property in 1610.  (Since his marriage to Sarah Margaret "Fergie" Ferguson on July 23, 1986 at Westminster Abbey, Prince Andrew Albert Christian Edward Windsor is known as Duke of York, Earl of Inverness and... Baron Killyleagh.)

Here's what we could glean about this Rowan-Hamilton family... 
(Grace Mc Ferrand, the Scottish paternal grandmother of our mathematician, was adopted into this Irish family before her wedding, but we have not yet found how her husband would be linked to it.)

In 1750, Gawen Hamilton of Killyleagh (1729-1805) married a widow, Jane, daughter of the barrister William Rowan (son of Capt. William Rowan of Derry).  They had a son Archibald (born in London 1752-05-12) and a daughter Sidney.  Archibald had to adopt his maternal grandfather's surname in order to inherit.  He became known as Archibald Hamilton Rowan (1752-1834), Secretary of the seditious "United Irishmen" Society.  The name "Archibald" is popular among his descendants, including:

Other leads:

 Come back later, we're
 still working on this one...

The 28 entries for "Hamilton" in Rietstap are all based on the basic Hamilton arms described above.  The cinquefoils may be replaced by roses (the design of an heraldic rose is similar to a cinquefoil), they may be pierced or not, Ermine or silver, but the field is invariably Gules:

Hamilton   De gueules, à trois quintefeuilles d'hermine, au chef denché d'or.
Hamilton   De gueules, à la fasce d'argent, ch. d'un coeur du champ et acc. de trois roses du second.
Hamilton   De gueules, à une épée d'argent, garnie d'or, acc. de trois quintefeuilles du second.
Hamilton   Écartelé: aux 1 et 4, de gueules, à trois quintefeuilles d'argent (Hamilton); aux 2 et 3, d'argent, à une galère de sable, les voiles ferlées (anciens comtes d'Arran).  Casque couronné.
Hamilton   Écartelé: aux 1 et 4, de gueules, à trois quintefeuilles d'hermine (Hamilton); au 2, d'argent, à trois galères de sable; au 3, de sable, au chevron d'argent, acc. de trois têtes d'enfant coupées aux épaules d'argent, chevelées d'or, ayant autour du cou un serpent noué au naturel.
Hamilton   De gueules, à un croissant d'argent, acc. de trois roses du même.  Trois casques couronnés.
Hamilton   De gueules, à trois quintefeuilles d'hermine, au chef d'or, ch. d'un lion léopardé du champ.
Hamilton   Écartelé: aux 1 et 4, de gueules, au chevron d'argent, ch. d'un fermail d'azur et de deux mouchetures d'hermine de sable, et acc. de trois quintefeuilles du second, à la bordure d'or, ch. de huit chardons au naturel (Hamilton de Byres); aux 2 et 3, d'argent, à la fasce ondée de gueules, acc. de trois roses du même (Melrose).
Hamilton   Écartelé: aux 1 et 4, de gueules, à trois quintefeuilles d'hermine (Hamilton); aux 2 et 3, d'argent, à une galère de sable, les voiles ferlées (anciens comtes d'Arran).  Sur le tout d'azur à trois fleurs-de-lis d'or (duché de Châtellérault), ledit surtout timbré d'une couronne à cinq fleurons.  Casque couronné.
Hamilton   Écartelé: aux 1 et 4, de gueules, à trois quintefeuilles d'argent, au chef d'or, ch. d'un léopard du champ, tenant de sa patte levée une chausse-trape d'azur; aux 2 et 3, de gueules, au lion léopardé d'argent, au chef du même, ch. d'une main dextre coupée de gueules, posée en pal.
Hamilton   Écartelé: aux 1 et 4, de gueules, à trois quintefeuilles d'hermine (Hamilton); aux 2 et 3, d'argent, à une galère de sable, les voiles ferlées (anciens comtes d'Arran).  L'écu entouré d'une bordure componnée d'azur et d'argent, chaque compon d'azur ch. d'une étoile d'argent et chaque compon d'argent ch. d'un coeur de gueules.
Hamilton de Barnton   De gueules, au chevron d'argent, ch. d'un fermail d'azur et de deux mouchetures d'hermine de sable, et acc. de trois quintefeuilles du second, à la bordure d'argent, ch. de huit trèfles de sinople.
Hamilton de Damerville   De gueules, à trois quintefeuilles d'hermine.
Hamilton de Deserf   Écartelé: au 1, d'argent, au lion de gueules, supportant de sa patte dextre une couronne d'or et tenant de sa senestre un sceptre d'or; aux 2 et 3, de gueules, à un chêne de sinople, terrassé du même, le fût traversé d'une scie au naturel, en fasce; au 4, d'argent, au lion contourné de gueules, supportant de sa patte senestre une couronne d'or et tenant de sa dextre un sceptre d'or.  Sur le tout de gueules à un croissant d'argent, acc. de trois quintefeuilles du même.  Deux casques couronnés.
Hamilton de Hagby   Les armes de Hamilton de Deserf, sauf que le champ des 2 et 3 est d'or.
Hamilton de Monella   Les armes de Hamilton comte de Clanbrassil, sans supports ni devise.
Hamilton de Mount-Hamilton   Les armes de Hamilton de Monella.
Hamilton de Preston   De gueules, à trois quintefeuilles d'argent.
Hamilton de Rosehall   De gueules, à une étoile d'argent, acc. de trois quintefeuilles d'hermine.
Hamilton de Silverton-Hill   De gueules, à un coeur d'argent, acc. de trois quintefeuilles d'hermine.
Hamilton de Silverton-Hill   De gueules, à un oeillet tigé et feuillé, au naturel, acc. de trois quintefeuilles d'hermine, à la bordure d'or.
Hamilton de Trebinshun   Écartelé: aux 1 et 4, de gueules, à trois quintefeuilles d'hermine (Hamilton); aux 2 et 3, d'argent, à une galère de sable, les voiles ferlées (Arran). Casque couronné.
Hamilton de Westport   De gueules, à trois quintefeuilles d'hermine, à la bordure d'argent, ch. de huit martinets du champ.
Hamilton de Woodbrook   Écartelé: aux 1 et 4, de gueules, à trois quintefeuilles d'hermine (Hamilton); aux 2 et 3, d'argent, à une galère de sable (Arran).  Au chef de l'écu d'argent, brochant sur l'écartelé et ch. d'un château au naturel, posé sur une terrasse de sinople ch. des mots ALBA DE TORMES, en lettres d'or, et un drapeau espagnol flottant sur les créneaux.  Deux casques, le 1er couronné.
Hamilton d'Enderwyck   De gueules, à la fasce échiquetée d'argent et d'azur de trois tires, acc. de trois quintefeuilles d'hermine, percées d'or, et un croissant d'or, posé au point d'honneur. Supports: deux cerfs d'argent.
Hamilton of Hoindyll   De gueules, à trois quintefeuilles d'argent, 2 et 1, encloses dans un trescheur fleuronné et contre-fleuronné du même.
Hamilton-Blackwood   Écartelé: aux 1 et 4, d'azur, à la fasce d'or, acc. en chef d'un croissant d'argent entre deux étoiles du second, et en pointe d'une macle d'argent (Blackwood); aux 2 et 3, de gueules, à trois quintefeuilles d'hermine, et au chef d'or ch. d'un lion léopardé du champ (Hamilton comtes de Clanbrassil).
Hamilton-Russell   Écartelé: aux 1 et 4, d'argent, à deux chevrons, acc. de trois croix recroisettées au pied fiché, 2 en chef et 1 en pointe, et d'une quintefeuille en abîme, le tout de sable (Russell); aux 2 et 3, de gueules, à trois quintefeuilles d'hermine (Hamilton).  Deux casques couronnés.
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