National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Thomas Hamilton (1563-1637)

Thomas Hamilton (1563-1637)

Lawyer and politician

Thomas Hamilton was the son of a judge. He was educated by his uncle in Paris before he became an advocate at the Scottish bar in 1587, rising to be a Lord of Session in 1592. His legal talents were noticed by King James VI and I who called him 'Tam o' the Cowgate' after being entertained at his lavish town house in Edinburgh. In 1612 he was appointed Lord Clerk Register and Secretary of State. The following year he was ennobled as Lord Binning. In 1619 he was created earl of Melrose, but in 1626 he exchanged this for the earldom of Haddington. Following the king's death he fell from favour under Charles I and in 1626 resigned his prominent governmental positions.

Testament of Thomas, earl of Haddington

National Records of Scotland, CC8/8/58 pp 304-309

Over the course of his life he amassed great wealth which he invested in land. The Scots Peerage remarks that in later life he had 'an income of which few, if any, Scottish peers in the seventeenth century could boast' (volume IV, p312). His will reveals details of the rents from his extensive estates.

View transcript (15 KB PDF)

The images of the original document are in jpeg format (approximately 150 KB):

View page 1 of the actual document
View page 2 of the actual document
View page 3 of the actual document
View page 4 of the actual document
View page 5 of the actual document
View page 6 of the actual document
View page 7 of the actual document
View page 8 of the actual document
View page 9 of the actual document