|Lady Anne, Duchess of Hamilton |
By Angela Wittman
Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear… Psalm 10, verse 17 – KJV
Lady Anne, Duchess of Hamilton was born in 1631 in Scotland to Christian parents. Her mother died when Anne was 8 years old, and her father, James, was beheaded for treason when she was only 19 years old.
James Hamilton was one of the leading Royalists who supported King Charles I. He had tried to form an alliance between the King and the Earl of Argyll, a Scottish Covenanter and friend. They eventually had a falling out and their friendship became severed. James was arrested during the administration of Oliver Cromwell, charged with treason and then executed. (Source: British-Civil-Wars.co.uk)
Due to the death of Lady Anne’s father and then her guardian, an uncle, she became impoverished as the family wealth was seized by the administration of Cromwell. The hardship of poverty left its imprint upon the character of Lady Anne which is described as being one of “pious humility.”
In 1656 she married Lord William Douglas; and when Charles II took the throne, her family fortune was reinstated. Even though Anne was in a sense vindicated with this restoration, she is reported to have had great misgivings at the empowerment of Charles II.
Lady Anne and her husband had become sympathizers of the persecuted Presbyterian ministers whom Charles II ejected from the pulpit. The number of ministers ejected in Scotland during this time is estimated to be in the hundreds. They were left to either wander in banishment or to preach in hidden caves and fields to their congregations.
In 1666, Lady Anne took a special interest in the case of the persecuted young minister, Hugh M’Kail. She and other ladies of nobility petitioned the King on his behalf and secured his pardon from execution. However, the pardon failed as it was concealed by Archbishop Sharp until after M’Kail and four others were martyred. Archbishop Sharp had developed a deep hatred for M’Kail due to his preaching, and felt he had been singled out for apostasy in one of his M’Kail’s sermons.
As we seek to become women of noble and humble character like Lady Anne, let us not forget the impact we have upon our families and homes. Here is a quote from the book “Ladies of the Covenant” concerning Lady Anne’s character which we will do well to imitate:
“There is nothing,” as has been justly observed, “which presents the duchess’s character in a more favourable light, and recommends her more for imitation, than the decided interest she took in the religious education of her own family… A suitable care that her family might not be without the accomplishments becoming their high rank in society was not overlooked by her Grace. But she also considered that it was a matter of the first, and of vital importance, that true religion should be understood, esteemed, and diligently practised in her family.”