William Gerard Hamilton

William Gerard Hamilton (28 January 1729 16 July 1796), English statesman and Irish politician, popularly known as "Single Speech Hamilton," was born in London, the son of a Scottish bencher of Lincoln's Inn.


He was educated at Winchester and at Oriel College, Oxford. Inheriting his father's fortune he entered political life and became Member of Parliament for Petersfield in Hampshire. His maiden speech, delivered on 13 November 1755, during the debate on the address, which excited Walpole's admiration, is generally supposed to have been his only effort in the House of Commons. But the nickname "Single Speech" is undoubtedly misleading, and Hamilton is known to have spoken with success on other occasions, both in the House of Commons and in the Irish parliament.

In 1756 he was appointed one of the commissioners for trade and plantations, and in 1761 he became chief secretary to Lord Halifax, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, as well as MP of the Irish House of Commons for Killybegs (until 1768) and English MP for Pontefract. He was Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1763, and subsequently filled various other administrative offices. Hamilton was thought very highly of by Samuel Johnson, and it is certain that he was strongly opposed to the British taxation of America. He died in London on 16 July 1796, and was buried in the chancel vault of St Martins-in-the-Fields.

Two of his speeches in the Irish House of Commons, and some other miscellaneous works—including previously unpublished notes on the Corn Laws by Johnson—were published by Edmond Malone after his death under the title Parliamentary Logick.[1]




Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by
Henry Gore
Francis Pierpoint Burton
Member of Parliament for Killybegs
With: Richard Jones
Succeeded by
Henry Hamilton
Thomas Allan
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
John Jolliffe
William Conolly
Member of Parliament for Petersfield
With: John Jolliffe 1754
William Beckford 1754
Sir John Philipps 1754–1761
Succeeded by
John Jolliffe
Richard Pennant
Preceded by
Sambrooke Freeman
The Viscount Galway
Member of Parliament for Pontefract
With: The Viscount Galway
Succeeded by
The Viscount Galway
Sir Rowland Winn
Preceded by
Howell Gwynne
Thomas Pitt
Member of Parliament for Old Sarum
With: John Crauford
Succeeded by
Pinckney Wilkinson
Thomas Pitt
Preceded by
Robert Palk
Thomas de Grey
Member of Parliament for Wareham
With: Christopher D'Oyly
Succeeded by
John Boyd
Thomas Farrer
Preceded by
Henry Herbert
Charles Herbert
Member of Parliament for Wilton
With: Lord Herbert 1780–1785, 1788–1790
Philip Goldsworthy 1785–1788
Succeeded by
Lord Herbert
The Viscount FitzWilliam
Preceded by
John Baynes-Garforth
John Lowther
Member of Parliament for Haslemere
With: James Lowther 1790
Richard Penn 1790–1791
James Clarke Satterthwaite 1791–1796
Succeeded by
James Clarke Satterthwaite
James Lowther
Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Rigby
Chief Secretary for Ireland
Succeeded by
The Earl of Drogheda
Preceded by
Sir William Yorke
Chancellor of the Exchequer of Ireland
Succeeded by
John Foster
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