In this week’s blog we look at the life of a brave Scottish soldier from the civil war era buried in Worcester Cathedral. William Hamilton was born on 14th December 1616. In 1651 he was a senior commander in the Royalist army which fought at the Battle of Worcester, and died of his wounds after the battle.
|An engraving from the cathedral collection|
If you visit Worcester today you will find a memorial that was erected to the Duke in September 1913, in addition to his existing gravestone near the High Altar. During his short life, William was initially part of the Royalist cause but in 1642 he was sent to Scotland to assist his brother in attempting to prevent the Scots from favouring the Parliamentarians in the war. They failed and on their return to
, they were thrown
into prison. William escaped and decided to return to Oxford and
change sides. He became one of the Scottish commissioners appointed to treat
with the king in prison. The commissioners failed to persuade the king to
establish Presbyterianism is England, but William was horrified to see the king
then handed over to the English. He called this: “the Judas-like sale of the
King for pieces of silver.” He converted back to being a Royalist. After the
execution of Charles I, he went into exile. His brother James was tried and
sentenced to death on the scaffold, some two months after the king. James’ title passed to William. Scotland
|The memorial brass placed in the cathedral in 1913|
As Duke of Hamilton, William returned to England with Charles II and fought in the battle of Worcester in 1651. He showed great courage, but was wounded as he led his regiment against Cromwell’s infantry and died at the Commandery a few days later.
|The gravestone of the Duke of Hamilton|
In the cathedral library there is also what is thought to be the tip of a standard that was found in the Victorian era near the duke’s coffin. The archive also holds a Victorian sketch of the lead coffin in which the Duke’s body was placed.
|The tip of a standard found near the body|
All images are by Mr. Chris Guy and are reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester cathedral (U.K.)