George Hamilton Earl of Orkney

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George Hamilton Earl of Orkney
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J Houbraken after Maingaud
George Hamilton Earl of Orkney
Knapton 1742
Coper engraving
380 x 240 mm
£65
GEORGE HAMILTON ORKNEY, EARL OF (1666-1737), British soldier, was the fifth son of William, duke of Hamilton, and was trained for the military career by his uncle, Lord Dumbarton, in the ist Foot. In 1689 he became lieut.- colonel and a few months later brevet colonel. He served at the battles of the Boyne and of Aughrim, and, at the head of the Royal Fusiliers, at Steinkirk. As colonel of his old regiment, the ist Foot, he took part in the battle of Landen or Neerwinden, and in the siege of Namur, serving also Athlone and Limerick in the Irish war. At Namur Hamilton received a severe wound, and in recognition of his services was made a brigadier. In 1695 he married Elizabeth Villiers (see above), who was "the wisest woman" Swift "ever knew." The following year he was made earl of Orkney in the Scottish peerage. As a majorgeneral he took the field with Marlborough in Flanders, and on January ist, 1703-1704 he became lieutenant-general. At Blenheim it was Orkney's command which carried the village, and in June 1705 he led a flying column which marched from the Moselle to the rescue of Liege. At Ramillies he headed the pursuit of the defeated French, at Oudenarde he played a distinguished part and in 1708 he captured the forts of St Amand andtSt Martin at Tournay. At the desperately fought battle of Malplaquet Lord Orkney's battalions led the assault on the French entrenchments, and suffered very severe losses. He remained with the army in Flanders till the end of the war, as "general of the foot," and at the peace he was made colonelcommandant of the ist Foot as a reward for his services. He occupied various civil and military posts of importance, culminating with the appointment of "field marshal of all His Majesty's forces" in 1736. This appointment is the first instance of field marshal's rank (as now understood) in the British Service. A year later he died in London.