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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Eng 508.1

Henry Hamilton papers


Papers of British officer Henry Hamilton and correspondence and other papers related to the acquisition and publication of these and other Hamilton manuscripts.


  • 1768-1933

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


.75 linear feet (2 boxes)

This collection of Hamilton materials include correspondence, clippings, compositions, drawings, notes, photographs, and transcripts. The series "Henry Hamilton papers" was part of the original gift sent by Caroline Isabella Rice and contains original (or transcipt copies) of materials by, sent to, or related to Henry Hamilton and his family. The series "Papers concerning the Henry Hamilton archive" includes letters from the donor to various members of the administration of Harvard University and the Harvard College Library as well as letters to and from Librarian William Coolidge Lane regarding his research on Hamilton and his attempts to publish the journals.

Biographical / Historical

Hamilton's father was Henry Hamilton (1692-1743), MP for Donegal, County Cork, Ireland. Henry Hamilton was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1734? as the fourth of seven children. He spent his youth in Cork and was commissioned into the 15th Regiment of Foot in the British Army. He earned distinction in the British victories at the battles of Louisburg and Quebec in the French and Indian War.

Hamilton was the British Lieutenant-Governor at Detroit from 1775-1778 and was the man responsible for implementing British Indian policy in the Old Northwest during the American Revolution. He was called the "Hair-Buyer General" by his adversary George Rogers Clark, referring to Hamilton's alleged practice of offering bounties for American scalps, but many historians have since dispelled much of this legend. In August of 1778, Hamilton learned that the Virginians under Colonel George Rogers Clark were descending the Ohio River to invade Illinois country to occupy posts there, including Vincennes on the Wabash River. Hamilton mounted an expedition to counterattack and drive the Virginians from Vincennes. He set out in September and October via the Maumee and Wabash Rivers but by February 1779 Clark retook Vincennes and took Hamilton prisoner. Hamilton was taken by the Americans to Williamsburg, Virginia and held in jail until parole was arranged in October of 1780. He was then taken to New York where he was exchanged for an American prisoner in March of 1781 and he arrived in London in June.

Hamilton was sent back to Quebec from 1782 to 1785 as Lieutenant-Governor and later Deputy-Governor. He was Lieutenant-Governor, then Governor of Bermuda from 1785-1794, and Governor of Dominica from 1794-1796. In March of 1795, at the age of 61, Hamilton married Elizabeth Lee (25 years old), daughter of Colonel Lee of Banbury, Oxfordshire. They had only one child, Mary Anne Pierpoint Hamilton, who died unmarried on 1871 Dec. 12. Hamilton died in 1796 at Antigua while still holding office.

Hamilton's older brother was Sackville Hamilton, a Privy Councillor and Chief Secretary for Ireland. It was this brother's great-granddaughter, Caroline Isabella Rice, who donated the Hamilton material to Harvard.


Organized into the following series:

  1. I. Henry Hamilton papers
  2. II. Papers concerning the Henry Hamilton archive
  3. ___A. Correspondence
  4. ___B. Other materials

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

*2001M-12. Original Hamilton materials were gift of: Mrs. Caroline Isabella Hamilton Rice, Grange Erin, Douglass, County Cork, Ireland; received: 1902 Mar. 28

Jacob Schieffelin materials were gift of: Howland Pell, Mary S. Sayers and John Lawrence Schieffelin, 1 Wall Street, New York, New York; received: 1933 Oct. 25.

Related Materials

See also HOLLIS database for other materials owned by the Houghton Library relating to Henry Hamilton and his family.

Processing Information

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

Hamilton, Henry, d. 1796. Henry Hamilton papers: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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