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The World’s First Assassination by Firearm – James Hamilton, Scotland 1570.


Scotland has a long history of firsts; for
example I would argue that it was Scotland that brought you America. Sure, James VI/I, was the King of the Scotland,
England, and Ireland, but he was born in Edinburgh castle, to a mother and father who were both
born in Linlithgow. So yeah… But you get it. He’s Scottish. Cool. We’ve also had our hand in the invention of
television, telephone, radar, steam engines, penicillin, and even your fridge, and the
list really does just go on. But one thing I was surprised to discover
was that it was Scotland who had the world’s first assassination by firearm. But ok, so first let’s clear up some things:
the definion – assassination by firearm only counts in this context when the person murdered
is a politician, monarch, key social or cultural figure. So, right off the bat, yeah, definitely not
the first literal “assassination by firearm” as I guess that goes to someone in 12th century
China, but this is the first assassination by firearm of a world figure that we have
historical evidence for. With that said, it’s liable to change, as
with everything in history, you think you know something, then some asshole digs something
new out of the ground. But hey that’s just how it goes. But ok, I’ve dicked around enough, why am
I bothering you today? What delightful tale do I have to share with
you this evening? That would be, James Hamilton. James Hamilton was a 16th century supporter
of Mary Queen of Scots. Mary Queen of Scots was a very unfortunate
woman in Scottish history, and she will get her own video in my Stewarts series eventually,
but suffice to say, she was the only surviving legitimate child of James V, who had died
of an illness when Mary was just six days old. Mary was immediately crowned Queen. As Mary grew up she would turn out to be Catholic,
and worse, would also be forced to abdicate her thrown in possibly one of the bleakest
tales of women in recorded history. With all the incest, abduction, rape, forced
marriage, escape, explosions and beheadings, it really would meet all the criteria for
being a solid episode of Game of Thrones, but alas I don’t want to spoil my own future
video. So, Mary has abdicated during the middle of
all that chaos, and her half-brother, James Stewart, also known as the 1st Earl of Moray,
took over as Regent for the young James VI. The only problem with the Earl of Moray, was
that he was a protestant. And we all know, religious differences, especially
in history, often leads to violence. So that’s where James Hamilton comes in. The supporter of Mary, Queen of Scots, also
a Catholic, didn’t really like the Regent’s ideas of a Scottish reformation. There’s some more backstory here, like how
in 1568 there would be a battle between Mary, who had previously abductated her throne,
and her half-brother The Earl of Moray at the Battle of Langside. What makes this strange is that Mary was fighting
reinstate herself as Queen, whilst the Earl of Moray was fighting to maintain the rights
of her infant son, James VI. Yeah… Anyway, Mary had brought with her 6’000 men,
which included most of the Hamilton clan, and the Earl of Moray brought with him 4’000. It was a pretty one-sided affair, with James’
army only suffering one death. But to be fair, Mary’s army only had around
100 deaths themselves but it didn’t seem to take much before those 6’000 men started to
route, which says a lot about the battle and how unwilling they were to die for that cause. What is interesting though is present at the
battle, who was also captured no less, would be James Hamilton. In exchange for Hamilon’s freedom, his estate
was either taken away or burned down. To be honest, both have historical references
supporting them, so go with what you think sounds best. Anyway, what we do know is in 1569 that the
Earl of Moray, burned down Rutherglen Castle, an important castle for the Hamilton clan
in retaliation for them siding with Mary in 1568. All of this really pissed off James Hamilton,
who then decided to make it his mission to assassinate the Regent. Apparently travelling to the Borders, Edinburgh,
Perth, Sterling, Glasgow, and even York and London without a significant opportunity. They acquired access to a Hamilton family
building adjecent to where the Regent was lodging. On Jamuary 23rd 1570 Hamilton hiding in a
window, concealed by washing, shot and mortally wounded the Earl of Moray with one or two
shots from a brass, match-lock carbine to the gut. As the Regent staggered to get off his horse
and retreated to his lodging, James Hamilton fled out the back on a horse. The Regent would die that evening of his wounds. Hamilton was chased by some of the Regents
entourage, but Hamilton managed to flee to the town of Hamilton where the safety of his
clan would ensure his protection until he left for France. James Hamilton would not be seen in Scotland
again. He would later die in 1581. In the aftermath of the assassination, Hamilton’s
uncle, the Archbishop of St Andrews, was captured, tried, and hanged at Stirling Castle for his
‘art and part’ in the murder. The Captain of Hamilton, Arthur Hamilton of
Myreton would also be executed for his part of the murder in 1579. Five other Hamiltons were arrested for their
part in the murder, but all were acquitted or their lives were spared after the intervention
of other local Lords. And that was it, the world’s first recorded
assassination of a politician, monarch, cultural, or social figure by firearm.

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