Alexander Hamilton (1755 – 1804), was one of the founding fathers of the USA with a father who came from Stevenston.

On 10th December 1755 Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, was born in Charlestown, Nevis in the British West Indies. His mother was Rachel Faucette of Nevis and his father was James A Hamilton of Stevenston.

James was the 4th son of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Pollock and was born at the Grange (Kerelaw Estate), Stevenston c.1718.

Kerelaw Castle

His parents were married on the 15th June 1711 in Stevenston and went on to have 9 sons and 2 daughters. Elizabeth Pollock was the daughter of Sir Robert Pollock who was knighted and created Baronet of Nova Scotia in 1703 by Queen Anne for his services to the crown. Elizabeth had a dowry of £41,000 (£3,140,190.00 in today’s money.)

James left Scotland for the West Indies after his apprenticeship with the Glasgow businessman Richard Allan came to an end. He travelled to St. Kitts and it was there that he met Rachel Faucette, who had previously left her husband and son. James and Rachel moved to her birthplace, Nevis, and they had 2 sons, James Jnr and Alexander. When Alexander was about 10 years old James abandoned Rachel and his sons (apparently to spare her a charge of bigamy after finding out her first husband planned to divorce her on grounds of adultery and desertion.) They moved to the Danish Island of St. Croix where Rachel died 3 years later in 1768 of yellow fever.

Effectively orphans, James Jnr and Alexander were taken in by their cousin Peter Lytton but a year later he committed suicide, and the boys were separated. James Jnr was apprenticed to a local carpenter and Alexander went to work in the accounts department of an export-import firm. He proved himself to be extremely intelligent and capable and he was eventually put in charge. He was ambitious though and with some help he was sent to America, arriving by ship in Boston in October 1772. By the autumn of 1773 he was attending King’s College (now Columbia University) in New York City.

He married Elizabeth Schuyler in December 1780 and they had 8 children together. They had a 32-acre country estate in New York where they built a mansion named “The Grange” after Hamilton’s grandfather’s house in Stevenston.

In July 1804 Alexander entered into a “pistols at dawn” duel with Vice President Aaron Burr in New Jersey where he was shot and fatally wounded. He is buried in the Trinity Churchyard Cemetery in Manhattan. James A Hamilton died in 1799 having never seen his son since he abandoned the family in 1765. He died in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and is buried in St. George’s Cathedral, Kingstown.

Alexander Hamilton did many great things in his 49 years; he was a lawyer, soldier, politician, prolific writer and speaker. He fought against the British during the Revolutionary War and served as George Washington’s aide. He was the founder of the American financial system, the United States Coast Guard and the New York Post newspaper. He is credited as one of America’s Founding Fathers and his image still appears on the $10 bill to this day. His life story is the subject of the smash hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” which has won countless awards and has broken box office records.

Alexander Hamilton With the 1st Draft of the Constitution

He is the subject of many books and is still being written and spoken about to this day. Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton “Alexander Hamilton” is a great source of information and mentions Stevenston and the Kerelaw Estate. Alex McLatchie’s “Kerelaw House” has a section on the Hamiltons, their time in Stevenston and the American connection.

Further Reading

Alexander Hamilton at U.S Department of the Treasury

Alexander Hamilton at Columbia College