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John Hamilton

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John Hamilton (1818-1868)

1870 Obituary [1]

MR. JOHN HAMILTON was born at Glasgow on the 23rd of January, 1818.

He was descended from a family of respectability in the west of Scotland. Soon after his birth, his father, Mr. William Hamilton, removed to Antwerp, where he established a mercantile house and carried on considerable operations. These were interrupted by the revolution which led to the separation of Belgium from Holland. For a time the family resided in Hamburg, but eventually returned to Belgium, where the subject of this memoir completed his education.

At an early age he exhibited a decided predilection for mechanical pursuits, and had he been permitted to follow the bent of his inclination would have chosen the profession of an Engineer while still a youth.

He was, however, placed with an eminent mercantile firm in Antwerp, and such was the confidence reposed in his ability that, at the age of eighteen, he was entrusted with the negotiation of important business in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, which countries he visited for the purpose, and acquitted himself with so much discretion that he was next sent on a similar errand to the United States by the well-known house, Messrs. Gower Nephews, of London.

He married in the year 1841 a lady of fortune, to whom he had long been attached, and shortly afterwards settled near Liverpool, where he established an extensive business, and erected large zincing works, ultimately combining therewith construction works, and executing important contracts for iron roofs, telegraph work, steam-vessels, &C., in which his early mechanical tastes found full scope; more especially in designing telegraph posts which were widely adopted in India, as they, with his girder bridges, were well suited to the wants of that country.

He further designed and built numerous stern-wheel steamers of very light draught, suited for inland navigation ; and in particular for the Russian Government he built a number of steamers, now on the sea of Aral, and which have been mainly instrumental in the extension of the Russian power over the barbarous legions of Central Asia.

In 1860 Mr. Hamilton organized the 7th Lancashire Artillery Volunteer Corps, and took the command as Lieut.-Colonel. This corps was composed entirely of artizans and others in his employment, by whom he was at all times deservedly held in the greatest respect and esteem. As a Volunteer officer he was distinguished for the same zeal and energy which he carried into every other pursuit.

After a successful career of twenty years he purchased a property- Hilston Park, Monmouthshire - to which he retired with the intention of devoting the remainder of his life to country pursuits, But his health now began to fail, in consequence, it is believed, of a shock received by his system when he accidentally fell backwards, a depth of 40 feet, from the pier at New Brighton into the river Mersey. No danger was at the time apprehended, but bad symptoms eventually appeared, and after three years of constant and severe suffering, which he bore with great patience, cheered by the presence and care of his amiable wife, he died at Bournemouth, on the 20th of December, 1868.

In person he was singularly attractive and of truly winning manners, but his wit and penetration were only to be fully appreciated by those who enjoyed his intimacy. Generous and considerate to all, he was in everything a true English gentleman.

Mr. Hamilton joined the Institution as an Associate in the year 1856 ; he was a frequent attendant at the meetings, and always took interest in the proceedings.

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