William Hamilton (diplomat)

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William Hamilton

Sir William Douglas Hamilton (December 30, 1730April 6, 1803) was a Scottish diplomat, antiquarian, archaeologist and volcanologist.

Hamilton was the fourth son of Lord Archibald Hamilton, governor of Jamaica. He served in the army from 1747, but left it after his marriage to Catherine Barlow, daughter of MP Hugh Barlow, on January 25, 1758. Catherine died on August 25, 1782. The couple had no children.

Hamilton was England's ambassador to the court of Naples from 1764 - 1800. During this time he studied local volcanic activity and earthquakes, and wrote a book on the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. He collected Greek vases and other antiquities, selling part of his collection to the British Museum in 1772. His second collection went down with the ship that was transporting them to England in 1798.

His other books include Antiquites etrusques, greques et romaines (1766–67) and Mount Vesuvius (1772).

In 1786, a stunning young lady was sent to Sir William by his nephew, Charles Greville, in exchange for him settling Greville's debts. Like most of the men who wandered into her orbit, Sir William was smitten with Emma Lyon, who performed dances inspired by classical elements for himself and his guests, including Goethe, while wearing no undergarments. However, he made no advances until she was ready to accept him. They married on September 6, 1791 at St. Georges, Hanover Square, London. He was 60; she was 26. She later became the lover of Horatio Nelson, a man Sir William admired greatly, and whose liaison he reportedly encouraged.

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