HAMILTON, SAMUEL

?1853 - 1917 from Ireland


colonial surgeon, was born probably in Dublin, the son of Major Joseph Hamilton. He qualified as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and a Licentiate of the King and Queen's College of Physicians in Ireland. In 1878, he was recommended to the Colonial Office by Sir Arthur Guinness MP. He arrived in Stanley on 14 March 1879.

Hamilton looked after the health of the colony for 26 years, generally pronouncing it to be excellent with an absence of infectious diseases. Perversely he argued in ExCo in 1897 against the establishment of a cottage hospital as he considered 'the people preferred to remain in their own comfortable homes'. His bluff manner and 'want of reticence' were the despair of female patients who looked with difficulty for an alternative doctor.

Hamilton was appointed to ExCo in April 1879 and served on the council for 26 years. Excitable, indiscreet, loquacious, he was a difficult colleague and successive governors despaired of him. In May 1889, the eccentric Irish MP MacNeil asked in Parliament about relations between the governor and Hamilton: the junior Colonial Office minister, de Worms, replied that the governor had expressed dissatisfaction with the conduct of the colonial surgeon, especially as a member of ExCo and LegCo, but had not requested his removal.

When Governor KERR in 1890 persuaded the Colonial Office to sell land to the FIC at a very generous rate, Hamilton and BRANDON both protested. 'There has been no bound to insinuations against him since Dr Hamilton took up the position he has on the land question', reported Governor GOLDSWORTHY, who sympathised with him, adding: 'Dr Hamilton is an Irishman, characteristically excitable, not also weighing what he has said in the heat of the argument, but withal an honest man...'

Although Hamilton complained that he was restricted in serving private patients, Kerr maintained that he had sent home nearly £3000 earned in private practice - a very considerable sum. In 1893 it was noted that he was under the influence of his housekeeper, the wife of the pilot Constable Wilmer. The following year Bradford Wilmer died and eight months later, on 24 April 1905, his widow Caroline and Hamilton were married.

The Polar explorer Wilson described him cuttingly in 1904: '...looks a terror, by name Hamilton. He is so stout he can hardly walk and he seems a standing joke to everyone. Apparently he has shaken hands with the King [Edward VII] somewhere or another and has never got over it.'

Hamilton retired in 1905 and returned to live in Dublin, where he died of influenza on 19 September 1917.

Authors

David Tatham