Sir James Hamilton of Finnart

c.1495 - 1540

Architect and noble, known as the 'Bastard of Arran'. The illegitimate son of James Hamilton, the 1st Earl of Arran (1475 - 1529), he became Steward of the Royal Household and Master of Works to King James V. As such, Hamilton was responsible for the restorations carried out on the Palaces at Linlithgow and Falkland, together with work on Blackness Castle. In return for his service, James gave Hamilton several estates, including Draffan (South Lanarkshire) on which he erected Craignethan Castle as his home (1530).

Hamilton was also involved in intrigue and persecution; he murdered John Stuart, the Earl of Lennox, and participated in the oppression of the Protestants, including his own cousin Patrick Hamilton, who was burnt at the stake in 1528. Known for his temper, Hamilton also provoked the 'Clear the Causeway' skirmish in Edinburgh's High Street with the Douglases (1520). Hamilton and his father escaped defeated across the Nor' Loch.

His fickle King became convinced that Hamilton was plotting against him and, despite there being no evidence to support this, arrested and executed his old friend. Craignethan was forfeit to the crown.

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