This famous and distinguished surname, with a total of one hundred entries in the "Dictionary of National Biography", and having no less than ninety-five Coats of Arms, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any of the various places throughout England named with the Olde English pre 7th Century "hamel", bare, scarred, treeless, with "dun", hill. These places include: Hamilton in Leicestershire recorded as "Hameldon" in 1220, and Hambledon in North Yorkshire, appearing as Hameldon" in records of that county, dated 1290. The noble Scottish family of the name, who hold many titles, including the Marquessate and Dukedom of Abercorn, and the Earldom of Haddington, are descended from Walter FitzGilbert de Hameldone, a Norman baron who gave his support to Robert the Bruce in the 13th Century. However, some bearers may derive their name from the town of Hamilton near Glasgow, founded by the Hamiltons, rather than from being members of the Norman family mentioned above. A branch of the family was established in Ireland by Sir Frederick Hamilton (died 1646). He later became governor of Ulster, and his descendants were created Viscounts Boyne. James Hamilton, first Earl of Abercorn (died 1617) was gentleman of the bedchamber to James V1, and Sir Thomas Hamilton, Lord Drumcairn and Earl of Melrose, became first Earl of Haddington in 1626. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Wauter fiz Gilbert de Hamildone, which was dated 1296, in the "Scottish Homage Roll of Renfrewshire", during the reign of John Balliol of Scotland, 1292 - 1296. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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