Monday, October 1, 2018

Hamilton Bonanza

Location of Robert Hamilton 45 Foyle St merchant house in Londonderry
Margaret Graham, born in 1820, was the oldest of the two Graham sisters who remained in Ireland.  On June 13, 1849 she married Robert Hamilton in Castlederg, Ireland. Two daughters (Elizabeth Donnell and Margaret Gordon) and a son (Robert Hamilton, Jr) survived infancy.

The parents lived on Foyle Street in Londonderry, Ireland for the rest of their lives. The historic Derry map on the left above shows the 45 Foyle Street location of the Hamilton family home, merchant house and business.  As can be seen in the map, the location was near the Derry Bridge and between the old city wall and the River Foyle.

Subsequently, according to a 1910 town directory,  that address was the location of P. Sweeney's restaurant. Today, the location, thanks to "urban renewal", has been swept clear of historic structures and is the site of a tourist center.

Robert Hamilton's Estate

Robert Hamilton Sr. was 76 years old when he passed away in 1893. His wife Margaret Graham Hamilton, daughters Elizabeth and Margaret and son Robert, Jr inherited his estate. The Irish records estimated the value of the estate as £18,700. Taking into account changing values over time, this is the equivalent to £2.25 million in pounds today or $2.47 million in dollars. However it is measured, Robert Hamilton built up quite an estate over his lifetime.

The estate bequeathed to his wife and children included the house and business located at 45 Foyle Street in Londonderry plus a home and farm called Castle Farm in County Donegal.

"The Castle" in Newtown Cunningham
A December 1901 For Sale notice stated the farm contained 140 acres of land "in the highest state of cultivation" about six miles east by road from Londonderry and a five minute walk from the railroad station in Newtowncunningham. According to the 1901 Census the house contained brick or stone walls, 15 windows in the front, and 19 rooms. 

No present day record or photo could be found for a Castle Farm. However, Wikipedia does mention for Newtown Cunningham: "The village's architecture includes stately Anglo-Irish "big houses", now known as the Manse and the Castle, which reflect the village's colonial and Presbyterian history."  

Until a better alternative arises, I am assuming this building pictured above is "The Castle"  of the Castle Farm mentioned in Robert's will.


Robert Hamilton Sr's Will

Winding up the estate
Robert Hamilton Sr's five page will is an excellent example of micromanaging from beyond the grave. Given all the asides and process directives included to assure his wishes were implemented into the future, it is a difficult document to understand.

My simplified take on the will is that the estate was bequeathed to his family as follows:
  • Castle Farm to Robert Jr. subject to his continuing payments on the mortgage.
  • Family Trust established under the direction of Robert Jr and two non-family businessmen to own and manage the Foyle Street business for the benefit of Robert Jr and to assure sufficient funds for the other bequests.
  • £500, first choice on home furniture and a £100 annual income to his wife Margaret for the rest of her life.
  • £2000 (equivalent to £252,000 today) each to daughters Margaret Gordon and Elizabeth Donnell.
In May 1897, following the death of his mother Margaret in April of that year,  Robert Jr announced in in a Statutory Notice to Creditors (shown here) that he was no longer interested in running his father's business and would wind up its business and affairs. Said Notice indicates that after July 1897 the remaining assets of Robert Hamilton Sr were to be distributed amongst the "Parties entitled thereto".

Robert Hamilton Jr's Death


Robert Hamilton Jr  Death Certificate
Following the liquidation of the Foyle Street business and property, Robert Hamilton Jr and his wife Maggie McCandless Hamilton moved to the Castle Farm in Donegal.  In 1901 the farm was sold. Robert and his wife then disappeared from the record until 1918. That year a death certificate documents his death as a widower in Memphis, Tennessee. There is no record of any children.

Elizabeth Lucy Hamilton Donnell

Elizabeth Lucy Hamilton, Robert, Jr's sister, was the youngest child of Margaret Graham and Robert Hamilton.

William Donnell
In 1883, at age 25, she married a 41 year old Londonderry ship agent named William Donnell. She was his second wife.

The first wife, named Louisa Augusta Marshall, died in 1881, leaving William with four young children, the youngest about a year old.

William Donnell died on Dec 9, 1925. Elizabeth Hamilton lived until 1938, enabling her to help raise all of William Donnell's children. 

Elizabeth and William had an additional two children between them; Aileen Grahame Gwynne Donnell (1886) and Eric Douglas Donnell (1888).

Aileen married Alfred Gardiner in Londonderry in 1910.  They gave birth to three daughters (Oonagh, Brenda and Kathleen) in their first 10 years of marriage.  Aileen and Alfred died in Bristol, England in 1945 and 1959, respectfully.

Eric Douglas Donnell married Olive Margaret Ramsden-Tagore in 1918 in Cuckfield, Sussex, England. They had two children: Leslie Eve and Desmond.

Margaret Nelson Hamilton

Margaret Graham Hamilton's other daughter was Margaret Nelson Hamilton. She married Robert Gordon and her story is told in the next post: Antipodes Bound.

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