This blog is going to be about Clan Hamilton. But, before we begin, let me assure you that there will be no talk of motor sport in this piece. I am aware that there is a very famous driver who shares the name of this clan, but I don't want to talk about him. If you want to talk about motor sport, this is not the forum. Right, now we've got that out of the way, we will begin.
Flim Flam or Real Clan?
It is probably fair to say that Clan Hamilton isn't a true Highland Clan. This by no means belittles their importance or status in Scottish history, by the way. The family descends from Walter Fitz Gilbert of Cadzow. Walter was a minor nobleman who was loyal to the English throne. He appears in records relating to herring fishing on the River Clyde as well as on the Ragman Roll in 1296. However, it wasn't until Walter switched his allegiance to Robert the Bruce that the family gained real prominence.
Robert the Bruce rewarded him with land in Lanarkshire and the Lothains. It was in these lands that the family would eventually build their home, Hamilton Palace. This building was widely considered to be one of Scotland's architectural gems but, due to subsistance, it had to be demolished in the 1920s. Since then the Family has made its home at Dungavel house in South Lanarkshire and then Lennoxlove House near Haddington (pictured below).
Hamilton and Hess
Douglas Douglas-Hamilton was the 14th Duke of Hamilton, member of parliament, aviator and keen sportsman. Douglas-Hamilton led an extraordinary life, he was part of the first formation to fly over Everest, for example. During WWII, Douglas found himself caught up in yet another extraordinary event. In May 1941, a small aeroplane came down in a field in Renfrewshire. A local farmer went to investigate the scene, finding the pilot alive and well. The pilot introduced himself as Alfred Horn and said he was a friend of the Duke of Hamilton. The farmer took the pilot to hospital where it was discovered that he wasn't Alfred Horn as he had claimed. When the Duke arrived at the hospital, the patient revealed himself to be Rudolf Hess. Hess was the deputy Fuhrer of the Third Reich, Hitler's second in command. All of this raised the question of what the Nazis could want from a Scottish duke?
A Nazi Plot
It came to light that Hess had flown to the UK to try and broker a deal with the British. This deal aimed to encourage Britain to leave Germany alone in Europe while securing the British Empire, allowing the Nazis to focus on fighting Russia. Douglas-Hamilton came under public scrutiny as he had had some dealings with senior Nazis before the war. In 1936, while in Berlin for the Summer Olympics, he attended many functions held by the Nazi party and even met Hitler. Taking into account that both Hamilton and Hess were keen aviators, it was assumed that they must have met during Hamilton's visit to the Olympics. been party to the scheme. However, the duke contacted Winston Churchill directly after his meeting with Hess and explained the situation. Hamilton was ultimately exonerated of any hand in the plot by Parliament and Hess spent the rest of his life in prison.
There you go, an interesting lot these Hamiltons, eh? The Hamilton-Hess affair has caused a lot of conspiracy theorizing which you can check out here if you like. If you aren't into the whole conspiracy theory thing, why not check out our full range of Hamilton tartans here?