Scottish prelate and politician
Archbishop of St Andrews (1546-1571)
Born c1511 Died 1571

John Hamilton was a natural son of James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran. At a very early age he became a monk and abbot of Paisley, and after studying in Paris he returned to Scotland, where he soon rose to a position of power and influence under his half-brother, the regent Arran. He was made keeper of the privy seal in 1543 and Bishop of Dunkeld two years later; in 1546 he followed David Beaton as Archbishop of St Andrews, and about the same time he became treasurer of the kingdom.

He made vigorous efforts to stay the growth of Protestantism, but with one or two exceptions persecution was not the policy of Archbishop Hamilton, and in the interests of the Roman Catholic religion a catechism called Hamilton's Catechism (published with an introduction by T. G. Law in 1884) was drawn up and printed, possibly at his instigation. Having incurred the displeasure of the Protestants, now the dominant party in Scotland, the archbishop was imprisoned in 1563.

After his release he was an active partisan of Mary, Queen of Scots; he baptized the infant James, afterwards King James VI, and pronounced the divorce of the queen from Bothwell. He was present at the battle of Langside, and some time later took refuge in Dumbarton Castle. Here he was seized, and on the charge of being concerned in the murders of Lord Darnley and the regent Murray he was tried, and hanged on the 6th of April 1571. The archbishop had three children by his mistress, Grizzel Sempill.

Being the entry for HAMILTON, JOHN in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.

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