Hamilton studied law at Paris and at 29 became a lord of Session as Lord Drumcairn. He was appointed by James VI one of the Octavians to control royal finances and in 1596 became king's advocate. Knighted in 1603, he was created Lord Binning (1613), earl of Melrose (1619), and earl of Haddington (1627). He was secretary of state [S] 1612–26, president of the Court of Session from 1616 until 1626, and lord privy seal [S] 1627–37. James's nickname for him—taken from the Edinburgh street—was ‘Tam o' the Cowgate’.
Subjects: British History.