Archibald Hamilton Rowan

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Archibald Hamilton Rowan

Also Known As: "Archibald Rowan-Hamilton"
Birthplace: Rathbone Place, London, Middlesex, England
Death: November 01, 1834 (83)
Killyleagh Castle, Killyleagh, County Down, Ireland
Place of Burial: Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Immediate Family:

Son of Gawen Hamilton of Killyleagh and Jane Rowan, Lady
Husband of Sarah Ann Dawson
Father of Captain Gawen William Rowan Hamilton and Archibald Hamilton-Rowan
Brother of Sidney Beresford and Grace McFerrand, (adopted)

Occupation: founding member of The Dublin Society of United Irishmen
Managed by: Erica Howton
Last Updated:

About Archibald Hamilton Rowan

Archibald Hamilton Rowan (May 1, 1751 – November 1, 1834), christened Archibald Hamilton (sometimes referred to as Archibald Rowan Hamilton), was an Irish celebrity and a founding member of The Dublin Society of United Irishmen.

His biographer, Dr. Drummond, says:

"Mr. Rowan had a tall and commanding person, in which agility, strength, and grace were combined. .. He was a man of a generous, manly, chivalrous disposition, of high principles, and a strong sense of the obligations of truth, justice, and humanity. He loved liberty, and hated oppression. He was steadfast, intrepid, and incorruptible in his public career, a brave and a good Irishman, in the fullest sense of the term, persevering and consistent in his patriotism, the same in youth and age, in the worst of times, as in the better days of his country."

T.D. Spearman notes (1):

"Archibald Rowan Hamilton was an unreliable and extravagant man with romantic leanings. In the same year (1805) his godson (mathematician & astronomer William Rowan Hamilton) was born, his father died and he inherited the family estate. He was at that time living in Germany as a fugitive from justice ...."


Hamilton Rowan traveled throughout the 1770s and 1780s, visiting parts of Europe, the Americas, and Northern Africa. During his travels, he witnessed early signs of revolutionary sentiment in America that may have planted the seeds of revolutionary inclinations that would flower later in his life.

He first gained public attention by championing the cause of fourteen-year-old Mary Neal in 1788.

Neal had been lured into a Dublin brothel and then assaulted by Lord Carhampton. Hamilton Rowan publicly denounced Carhampton and published a pamphlet "A Brief Investigation of the Sufferings of John, Anne, and Mary Neal" in the same year. An imposing figure at more than six feet tall, Hamilton Rowan's notoriety grew when he entered a Dublin dining club threatening several of Mary Neal's detractors, with his massive Newfoundland at his side, and a shillelagh in hand. The incident won him public applause and celebrity as a champion of the poor. ....

Read more at Wikipedia ....


Archibald Rowan-Hamilton was born on 12 May 1752.1 He was the son of Gawen Hamilton and Jane Rowan.2 He married Sarah Anne Dawson, daughter of Walter Dawson, on 6 October 1781.1. - 10 children. He died on 1 November 1834 at age 82.1

He was given the name of Archibald Hamilton at birth.1 He was member of the Society of United Irishmen, and took part in '1798' (known as 'Mr. Rowan' to Wolfe Tone and his colleagues). He was sentenced to death but escaped to the U.S.A. (where he fathered several natural children).1

- godfather of William Rowan Hamilton, Irish mathematician & astronomer, who was the grandson of his adopted sister, Grace McFerrand (3)



  1. [S47] Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, editor, Burke's Irish Family Records (London, U.K.: Burkes Peerage Ltd, 1976), page 553. Hereinafter cited as Burke's Irish Family Records.
  2. [S47] Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, Burke's Irish Family Records.
  3. 3. William Rowan Hamilton(1805–1865) by T.D. Spearman, School of Mathematics, Trinity College Dublin, proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy.(1995)


  1. Hamilton Rowan, Archibald. The Autobiography of Archibald Hamilton Rowan. Shannon: Irish University Press, 1972.
  2. Nicolson, Harold George. The Desire to Please, A Story of Hamilton Rowan and the United Irishmen. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1943.
  3. Venn, J.; Venn, J. A., eds. (1922–1958). "Hamilton-Rowan (formerly Hamilton), Archibald". Alumni Cantabrigienses (10 vols) (online ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  4. The lives and trials of Archibald Hamilton Rowan, the Rev. William Jackson 41.
  5. Burke, Bernard, Sir. A genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry of Great Britain & Ireland 6th ed. London : Harrison 1879. Vol I. page 720

Archibald Hamilton Rowan was born in the home of his grandfather, William Rowan, in London, and lived there with his mother and sister for much of his early life. When his grandfather died in 1767, he inherited a large sum of money under the stipulation that he would add the maternal name Rowan, receive an Oxbridge education, and not visit Ireland before his 25th birthday. He was a founding member of The Dublin Society of United Irishmen.

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Archibald Hamilton Rowan's Timeline

May 1, 1751
London, Middlesex, England
November 1, 1834
Age 83
Killyleagh, County Down, Ireland
Age 82
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland