JOHN HAMILTON BELHAVEN AND STENTON, 2ND Baron (1656-1708), was the eldest son of Robert Hamilton, Lord Presmennan (d. 1696), and was born on the 5th of July 1656. Having married Margaret, granddaughter of John Hamilton, 1st Baron Belhaven and Stenton, who had been made a peer by Charles I. in 1647, he succeeded to this title in 1679. In 1681 he was imprisoned for opposing the government and for speaking slightingly of James, duke of York, afterwards James II., in parliament, and in 1689 he was among those who asked William of Orange to undertake the government of Scotland. Belhaven was at the battle of Killiecrankie; he was a member of the Scottish privy council, and he was a director of the Scottish Trading Company, which was formed in 1695 and was responsible for the Darien expedition. He favoured the agitation for securing greater liberty for his country, an agitation which culminated in the passing of the Act of Security in 1705, and he greatly disliked the union of the parliaments, a speech which he delivered against this proposal in November 1706 attracting much notice and a certain amount of ridicule. Later he was imprisoned, ostensibly for favouring a projected French invasion, and he died in London on the 21st of June 1708. Belhaven is chiefly famous as an orator, and two of his speeches, one of them the famous one of November 1706, were printed by D. Defoe in an appendix to his History of the Union (1786).
Belhaven's son, John, who fought on the English side at Sheriffmuir, became the 3rd baron on his father's death. He was drowned in November 1721, whilst proceeding to take up his duties as governor of Barbados, and was succeeded by his son John (d. 1764). After the death of John's brother James in 1 777 the title was for a time dormant; then in 1799 the House of Lords declared that William Hamilton (1765-1814), a descendant of John Hamilton, the paternal great-grandfather of the 2nd baron, was entitled to the dignity. William, who became the 7th baron, was succeeded by his son Robert (1793-1868), who was created a peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Hamilton of Wishaw in 1831. He died without issue in December 1868, when the barony of Hamilton became extinct; in 1875 the House of Lords declared that his cousin, James Hamilton (1822-1893) was rightfully Baron Belhaven and Stenton, and the title descended to his kinsman, Alexander Charles (b. 1840), the 10th baron.
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