Hamilton, Robert (1781–1845)

By: L. W. Kemp

Revised by: Ian Hamilton

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: October 14, 2020

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Robert Hamilton, early settler and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, son of William and Euphemia (Alston) Hamilton, was born in Eastquarter, Glassford Parish, Lanarkshire, Scotland, on October 17, 1781. With brothers James, William, Alexander, and cousin Thomas Alston Brown, he immigrated to the United States in 1799 and settled in Granville County, North Carolina. In 1812 the brothers started a commercial enterprise in which each one continued his own business as a managing partner but for the benefit of the concern. Robert Hamilton had two plantations in North Carolina, with mills and other industries thereon. In 1834 Hamilton moved to an area on the Red River claimed by both Arkansas and Texas. According to his statement to the Red River County commissioners, he arrived in the area on December 15, 1834, a single man.

Hamilton, probably the wealthiest man to sign the Declaration of Independence, was one of the five men sent by Pecan Point and vicinity or the Red River District to the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos. Because of his financial experience, wealth, and extensive connections, Hamilton was appointed, with George C. Childress, on March 19, 1836, to go to Washington, D.C., to seek recognition of the independence of Texas and establishment of commercial relations with the United States. On December 20, 1836, President Sam Houston nominated him chief justice of Red River County, and in this post Hamilton authorized law enforcement in the area. He had large landholdings in Red River County.

In October 1837 Hamilton was living in New York and entered into a partnership with his nephew, William F. Hamilton, under the name of Hamilton & Co. for the transaction of a commission business. He had never married. He died on July 22, 1845, in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, at the home of his nephew. His remains were later moved from New Jersey and re-interred at the family plot of William F. Hamilton at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, on December 9, 1847. Believing that Hamilton died in Red River County, the Texas Centennial Commission erected a monument to his memory in the old Rowland Cemetery, twenty-two miles from Clarksville.

Patrick Hamilton Baskervill, The Hamiltons of Burnside, North Carolina, and Their Ancestors and Descendants (Richmond, Virginia: Wm. Ellis Jones' Sons, Incorporated, 1916). Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence (Salado, Texas: Anson Jones, 1944; rpt. 1959). “Robert Hamilton,” Find A Grave Memorial (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/140986927/robert-hamilton), accessed November 6, 2018. Thomas Jefferson Rusk Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Peoples
  • Scots
  • Business

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

L. W. Kemp Revised by Ian Hamilton, “Hamilton, Robert,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hamilton-robert.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 14, 2020