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Hamilton, John

Hamilton, John

HAMILTON, JOHN. (c. 1740–1816). Loyalist officer. Born around 1740 in Scotland, Hamilton established a trading company in Virginia with his brother and uncle in 1756. They soon spread their operations into North Carolina, becoming the most successful company in that colony by the start of the Revolution. The Hamiltons made clear their loyalty to the crown in 1775, earning the enmity of many neighbors. When they refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Revolutionary government in 1777, they were ordered to leave the state. Enlisting in the British army in New York City, Hamilton traveled to Savannah in 1778 to recruit Loyalist troops in the South, succeeding in enlisting more than seven hundred men into the Royal North Carolina Regiment, which he commanded as lieutenant colonel. After participating in the British campaigns in Georgia and the Carolinas, Hamilton's regiment joined General Charles Cornwallis on his march into Virginia in 1781. Hamilton was wounded three times before the British surrendered at Yorktown, earning high praise from Cornwallis and other British officers. At the close of the war the Royal North Carolina Regiment was sent to Nova Scotia, where it was disbanded. The following year, 1784, Hamilton went to London to attempt to reclaim some of the two hundred thousand pounds he claimed to have lost because of the Revolution. He stayed in England until 1790, succeeding in recovering fourteen thousand pounds for his family as well as a small pension and land in the Bahamas. Having been named British consul at Norfolk, Virginia, in 1789 (though he took up his position the following year), Hamilton returned to America and stayed in Norfolk until 1812. With the start of the War of 1812, he returned to London, where he died on 12 December 1816.


DeMond, Robert O. The Loyalists in North Carolina during the Revolution. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1940.

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