Hugh Hamilton

By Morag T Fyfe

At the southernmost point of compartment Delta stands the monument commemorating Hugh Hamilton though it is now so badly weathered that the inscriptions are illegible. Fortunately George Blair recorded the texts in an article published in the Reformers’ Gazette in 1850, at the same time deploring the state of the monument then only about twelve years old. The monument faces south towards the Façade and on that face is the following inscription:

Born 25 June, 1791, died 25th Dec., 1837.
“Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he
That is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.” Proverbs
xxviii, 6.

On the east and west sides are the following inscriptions:

An Enlightened Admirer
Of the
British Constitution,
He earned an honourable reputation
Amongst his fellow citizens,
By the grave(?) and fervid eloquence
With which he advocated
Our mixed form(?) of Government.


Sincerely attached
To the
He zealously its claims
To support and extension;
Contended earnestly for its pure
Faith, and simple ritual;
And exemplified its precepts
By a walk and conversation
Recoming(sic) the Gospel.

Nothing is known about Hugh Hamilton personally but his association with the Glasgow Conservative Operatives’ Association means that he appeared a number of times in the newspapers of the day. The Association seems to have been formed in December 1836 and lasted until May 1843.

Between 1836 and 1838 Sir Robert Peel held the position of Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow. In order to mark his election it was proposed at the Town Council meeting of 22 December 1836 that he should be admitted a Freeman Burgess of the city but this was rejected by a majority of councillors. When this became known the newly constituted Glasgow Conservative Operatives’ Association decided to open a subscription to raise money to purchase a Merchant Burgess ticket and present it to him when he came to Glasgow for his inauguration as Lord Rector.

Peel’s inauguration took place on 11 January 1837 and on the 13th twenty deputations from a number of organizations in Glasgow and further afield came to Blythswood House, where he was staying, to present him with congratulatory addresses. Due to pressure of time the only address which was presented to him and to which he replied there and then was that of the Glasgow Conservative Operatives’ Association; all the other addresses were acknowledged in due course in writing but Peel specifically asked that the Operatives should make their presentation to him. Hugh Hamilton presented him with a silver box containing the Burgess Ticket and an address signed by over two thousand Operatives. William Keddie, secretary to the Association then read the address and Peel made a suitable reply.

In March 1837 the Glasgow Conservative Operatives’ Association held a grand dinner in the Town Hall attended by about 300 persons at which Hugh Hamilton was in the chair. The following month he was one of the speakers at the first dinner of the University Peel Club founded in 1836 and now the University Conservative Club.

That seems to be all that is known about Hamilton until an obituary appeared in the first report of the Glasgow Conservative Operatives’ Association in 1838. The obituary provides no personal details but confirmed Hamilton as a founder member of the Association and President of it. The final mystery of Hugh Hamilton’s life is ‘where is he buried?’ There is no sign of his burial in the burial registers of the Necropolis.

Hugh Hamilton Memorial

Hugh Hamilton Memorial

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