George Douglas-Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney

George Douglas-Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney

Field Marshal George Douglas-Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney KT (February 9, 1666 - January 29, 1737) was a British soldier and Scottish nobleman. He was the first British Army officer to be promoted to the rank of Field Marshal.

The son of the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton, he fought for William of Orange in Ireland and the Low Countries. He was raised to the peerage in 1695, and continued to serve with distinction in the War of the Spanish Succession. After these campaigns he retired from active service, taking on governorships and sitting as a representative peer in the House of Lords.

Early life

Lord George Douglas-Hamilton was born at Hamilton Palace, the fifth son of Anne Hamilton, 3rd Duchess of Hamilton and William Douglas, Earl of Selkirk.

Military career

He was first trained by his uncles, Lord Dumbarton, Lord James Douglas, and Lord Angus, in military service in the 1st Regiment of Foot (then known as "His Majesty's Royal Regiment of Foot").

Ireland and the Low Countries

In 1689, after entering military service, he became a lieutenant colonel, and a few months later a brevetted colonel. He and his regiment served at the battles of the Boyne and Aughrim in the Irish War. He then moved to command of the Royal Fusiliers and fought at the Battle of Steinkeerke. He moved back to the 1st Foot, participated in various battles of the Irish rebellion, and eventually fought at the battle of Landen and the Siege of Namur, both of which were fought during the War of the League of Augsburg. At Namur, however, Hamilton received a serious wound, and was eventually promoted to the rank of brigadier.

In 1695, Hamilton married Elizabeth Villiers sister to Edward Villiers, 1st Earl of Jersey, and the following year, he was raised to the Scottish peerage as Earl of Orkney, Viscount Kirkwall and Baron Dechmont.

War of the Spanish Succession

He became a major general and fought in the War of the Spanish Succession under John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. A few years later in 1704, Orkney was promoted to lieutenant general. At the Battle of Blenheim, Orkney lead the final assault on the village of Blenheim, receiving the surrender of its French defenders. Later, in June 1705, he marched his column from the Moselle to relieve the besieged city of Liège. At the Battle of Ramillies, he led the pursuit of the defeated French, and he played a major role at the Battle of Oudenarde.

In 1708, he captured two major fortifications at Tournai. At the desperate Battle of Malplaquet, Lord Orkney's battalions led the charge toward the French entrenchments, suffering serious losses. He remained with his army near Flanders, until the end of the war. During that time, he received a promotion to general. After the peace treatise, he received the honorary title of Colonel Commandant of his old unit, the 1st Foot.

Later life

For the next few decades, he held civilian and military positions of importance. He was installed as Governor of Edinburgh Castle, made a Lord of the Bedchamber to George I, and was Governor of Virginia in 1714, but appears never to have visited the colony. He served as a Scottish Representative Peer in six parliaments from 1707 to 1736, and was Lord Lieutenant of Lanarkshire. In 1735 he commissioned the building of a temple at his Buckinghamshire home, Cliveden House, by the architect Giacomo Leoni. He was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal in 1736. This was the first promotion to the rank of Field Marshal in the British Army. Hamilton died a year later in his accommodation on Albemarle Street, London.


By Elizabeth Villiers, daughter of Sir Edward Villiers and Lady Frances Howard, Lord Orkney had three daughters, the eldest of which inherited his estate and title: [ [ Lady Henrietta Douglas] , ""]
*Lady Anne,"suo jure" Countess of Orkney, married William O'Brien, 4th Earl of Inchiquin
*Lady Frances, married Thomas Lumley-Saunderson, 3rd Earl of Scarbrough
*Lady Henrietta, married John Boyle, 5th Earl of Cork




*Balfour Paul, Sir James "The Scots Peerage IX Vols." Edinburgh, 1907
* [ List of British Field Marshals]

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