James Hamilton, 5th Duke of Abercorn

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The Duke of Abercorn
The 5th Duke of Abercorn Allan Warren.jpg
Portrait by Allan Warren, 1990
Chancellor of the Order of the Garter
Assumed office
17 October 2012

James Hamilton, 5th Duke of Abercorn, KG (born 4 July 1934), styled Viscount Strabane until 1953 and Marquess of Hamilton between 1953 and 1979, is a British peer, courtier and politician.


He became the 5th Duke of Abercorn in the Peerage of Ireland on the death of his father, the 4th Duke, in 1979. [1] He was an Ulster Unionist politician and served as Member of Parliament for Fermanagh and South Tyrone. He later served as Lord Steward of the Household to Elizabeth II. He has been Chancellor of the Order of the Garter since 2012.

Early life and family

He was born on 4 July 1934 to James Hamilton, Marquess of Hamilton, and The Hon. Kathleen Crichton. From birth, he held the courtesy title Viscount Strabane, until the death of his paternal grandfather, the 3rd Duke of Abercorn, in 1953, when he became Marquess of Hamilton, the title he held until the death of his father.

On 20 October 1966, the then Lord Hamilton married Alexandra Phillips, daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Harold Phillips and Georgina Wernher, herself the elder daughter and co-heiress of Sir Harold Wernher, 3rd Baronet, of Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire. Their wedding at Westminster Abbey was attended by members of the royal family, including Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother, and Prince Andrew was a pageboy.

The Duke and Duchess of Abercorn had three children:

The Duke was a first cousin of the 8th Earl Spencer, father of Diana, Princess of Wales. He attended Diana's 1981 wedding to Prince Charles at St Paul's Cathedral.


Educated at Eton College and the Royal Agricultural College, in 1953 he was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards as Second Lieutenant Lord James Paisley, [4] and then promoted to Lieutenant in 1955. [5] He quit active service and was absorbed into the Regular Reserves a year later. [6] In 1964 he became Ulster Unionist MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, succeeding his cousin, Lord Robert Grosvenor. He held his seat in the 1966 election but lost it to Frank McManus in 1970 by 1,423 votes. [7] In 1970 he served as High Sheriff of Tyrone. [8] In 1974 he joined the Ulster Defence Regiment, [9] but left the regiment and remained in the British Army in the Volunteer List in 1980. [10] From 1986 to 2009 he was the Lord Lieutenant of County Tyrone. In 1999, he was appointed a Knight of the Order of the Garter. [11] He was Colonel of the Irish Guards from 2000 to 2008. [12] Additionally, he was appointed Lord Steward of the Household in 2001, serving until 2009.[ citation needed ]

He owns more than 15,000 acres (61 km2). His seat is Baronscourt, near Newtownstewart, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. The Dukedom of Abercorn is in the Peerage of Ireland and did not carry an entitlement to a seat in the House of Lords, but until 1999 the Duke was entitled to sit there under his subsidiary title Marquess of Abercorn, in the Peerage of Great Britain. He was appointed Chancellor of the Order of the Garter on 17 October 2012. [13]

In 1987, he served as a judge in Prince Edward's charity television special The Grand Knockout Tournament .


Coat of arms of James Hamilton, 5th Duke of Abercorn
Arms of James Hamilton, 5th Duke of Abercorn.svg
A Coronet of a Duke
Out of a Ducal Coronet Or an Oak Tree proper fructed and penetrated through the stem transversely by a Frame-Saw proper framed Gold the blade inscribed with the word "Through"
Quarterly: 1st and 4th, Gules three Cinquefoils pierced Ermine (Hamilton); 2nd and 3rd, Argent a Lymphad with one mast the sail furled and oars out Sable (Arran)
On either side an Antelope Argent horned unguled ducally gorged hoofed and the Chain reflexed over the back Or
Sola Nobilitas Virtus (Virtue is the only nobility)
Order of the Garter
Garter Banner of the 5th Duke of Abercorn.svg The banner of the Duke of Abercorn's arms used as knight of the Garter depicted at St George's Chapel.

Related Research Articles

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An unofficial order of precedence in Northern Ireland, according to Burke's Peerage, 106th Edition, this is not officially authorised by or published with authority from either Buckingham Palace or the College of Arms, or the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice or the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, or the Northern Ireland Assembly, or the Northern Ireland Executive.

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James Hamilton, 2nd Duke of Abercorn, styled Viscount Hamilton until 1868 and Marquess of Hamilton from 1868 to 1885, was a British nobleman, groom of the stool, and diplomat. He was the son of James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Abercorn, and Lady Louisa Jane Russell.

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James Edward Hamilton, 4th Duke of Abercorn styled Viscount Strabane until 1913 and Marquess of Hamilton between 1913 and 1953, was a British peer. He was the son of James Hamilton, 3rd Duke of Abercorn, and Lady Rosalind Cecilia Caroline Bingham. He inherited his father's peerages on 12 September 1953.

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Alexandra Anastasia Hamilton, Duchess of Abercorn, was a British peeress and philanthropist. She was the wife of James Hamilton, 5th Duke of Abercorn, and a descendant of Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, in whose honour she founded the Pushkin Trust and the Pushkin prizes.

Lord Hamilton, Baron of Strabane, in the County of Tyrone, is a title in the Peerage of Ireland created on 8 May 1617, for James Hamilton, Master of Abercorn, eldest son of James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Abercorn, during the life of his father ; the barony had the special remainder to the heir-males of his father. He was about thirteen at the time. Both Abercorn and Paisley were in the peerage of Scotland. He inherited his father's several titles in 1618, his grandfather's title in 1621.

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Claud Hamilton, 2nd Baron Hamilton of Strabane was the founder of the Strabane branch of the Hamiltons. He died relatively young at about 32 and his wife, Jean Gordon, married Sir Phelim O'Neill, one of the leaders of the 1641 rebellion, after his death.

James Hamilton, 3rd Lord Hamilton, Baron of Strabane (1633–1655) fought against the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland together with his stepfather Phelim O'Neill. In the Siege of Charlemont of 1650, they defended the fort against Coote, but had eventually to surrender. In 1655 Lord Strabane accidentally drowned in the River Mourne near Strabane, aged about 22 and was succeeded by his brother George.

George Hamilton, 4th Baron Hamilton of Strabane was the younger son of Claud Hamilton, 2nd Baron Hamilton of Strabane. He succeeded to the title in 1655 when his brother drowned while bathing in the River Mourne. After the Restoration, he obtained the return of the family lands around Strabane, which had been confiscated by the Parliamentarians in 1650.

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Sir George Hamilton, 1st Baronet of Donalong and Nenagh, born in Scotland, inherited land in Ireland and fought in the Irish Army under his brother-in-law, the 1st Duke of Ormond, in the Confederate Wars and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, during which he defended Nenagh Castle against Henry Ireton. Hamilton was father of Antoine Hamilton, author of the Mémoires du Comte de Grammont, of Richard Hamilton, Jacobite general, and of Elizabeth, Countess de Gramont, "la belle Hamilton".


  1. "Abercorn, James Hamilton". Who's who 1998 : an annual biographical dictionary. New York: St. Martin's Press. 1998. p. 2. ISBN   0312175914.
  2. "Among friends: Inside the new King and Queen Consort's inner circle". Tatler. Retrieved 15 October 2022.
  3. Montague-Smith, Patrick W., ed. (2008). "Abercorn, Duke of (Hamilton) Sat as Marquess of Abercorn (GB 1790) (Duke I 1868, Bt I 1660)". Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage 2008. London: Debrett's Peerage Limited.
  4. "No. 39944". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 21 August 1953. p. 4582.
  5. "No. 40400". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 4 February 1955. p. 775.
  6. "No. 40802". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 8 June 1956. p. 3436.
  7. Michael Stenton and Stephen Lees, "Who's Who of British Members of Parliament", vol. IV (Harvester Press, 1981), p. 149.
  8. "No. 2596". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 9 January 1970. p. 13.
  9. "No. 46500". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 24 February 1975. p. 2558.
  10. "No. 48229". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 23 June 1980. p. 9002.
  11. "No. 55466". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 23 April 1999. p. 4575.
  12. "No. 56020". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 7 November 2000. p. 12480.
  13. "No. 60301". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 17 October 2012. p. 19937.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Succeeded by
Court offices
Preceded by Lord Steward
Succeeded by
Military offices
Preceded by Colonel of the Irish Guards
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by Lord Lieutenant of Tyrone
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chancellor of the Order of the Garter
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by Duke of Abercorn
James Hamilton
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by Gentlemen
The Duke of Abercorn
Succeeded by