Topic: Captain John Fane Charles Hamilton
A brief background on the "brave and gallant" captain that Hamilton City was named after.
|John Fane Charles Hamilton was born in Scotland in 1822. His grandfather was MP for Oxford, his father a colonel in the army, and an uncle was a Rear-Admiral. John joined the navy in 1835 at the age of 13. He saw service in many parts, including China, where he was involved in fighting on land and in ship's boats.
Hamilton was promoted to lieutenant in March 1844, at the age of 22 and went on to serve in the Americas and the Crimea. He was promoted to the rank of commander for his bravery at the Seige of Sebastepol. Here his crew presented him with the sword that was later given to the City of Hamilton by his descendents.
He was appointed Captain of the Esk, a corvette of 1169 tons, and was sent to New Zealand to help in the New Zealand Wars.
At the battle of Gate Pa he had under his direct command a detachment of the 43rd regiment and a party of sailors. In the words of a nineteenth century historian,
"The gallant Hamilton sprang upon the embankment, waved his sword in the air, and shouted, 'Follow me, men!' Scarcely had the words passed his lips when a bullet struck him in the head, his sword dropped from his hand, and he fell to rise no more."
He is buried in a cemetery in Tauranga.
More information on the battle of Gate Pa is available online at the Tauranga City Libraries local history pages : The Battles of Gate Pa (Pukehinahina) and Te Ranga
Some Captain Hamilton resources held at Hamilton City Libraries:
Astride the river / Peter Gibbons