Thought to have been derived from the old English ‘Hamel Dun’, meaning bare hill, the Hamilton family is believed to have been descended from Walter Fitz Gilbert of Hambledon, a Norman who appears on a charter of Paisley around 1294.
The family were first granted the lands that would later become the town of Hamilton following their support for Robert the Bruce during the Scottish War of Independence.
They would go on to gain control of the Castle of Brodick on the island of Arran and come to close to the royal throne when the 2nd Earl of Arran was made heir to the throne of both Mary Queen of Scots and James IV in the 16th century. This royal recognition would never happen.
The Hamilton family would remain highly influential, however, and would eventually re-establish their clan seat in Lanarkshire with the construction of the spectacular Hamilton Palace.
The palace would not last long though as it was demolished in 1921 – only 300 years after it was first constructed. The current clan seat is now at Lennoxlove, near Haddington. The clan chief is Alexander Douglas-Hamilton, 16th Duke of Hamilton.