Hamilton, Anthony (Antoine) (1646?–1720), Jacobite, soldier and man of letters, was probably born in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, third son of Sir George Hamilton and his wife Mary Butler, third daughter of Thomas, Viscount Thurles, and a sister of James Butler (qv), 12th earl and 1st duke of Ormond. Although little is known of his early life, Hamilton probably accompanied his older brother George (qv) to France in 1667 and served in his regiment along with their younger brother Richard (qv), his cousin Gustavus Hamilton (qv), and Patrick Sarsfield (qv).
He was back in Ireland in the early 1670s. Along with his cousin Lord John Butler (created earl of Gowran, 1676), he saved Dublin castle from total destruction during a fire by carrying out a barrel of gunpowder. Holding a captain's commission in his brother's regiment, he recruited for his corps in Limerick in 1673. On his return to France he served under Marshal Luxembourg in Holland and Marshal Turenne on the Rhine. Appointed governor of Limerick in place of Sir William King (1685), he was the first governor openly to attend mass in thirty-five years. In the same year he held the commission of lieutenant-colonel in the regiment of Sir Thomas Newcomen, and was appointed to James II's (qv) privy council. The lord lieutenant, Clarendon (qv), described Anthony ‘as a man who understands the regiment better than the colonel for he makes it his business’ (Clark, Anthony Hamilton, 76–7). Hamilton received the first colonel's commission after Tyrconnell's (qv) elevation to the lord deputyship (the DNB maintains that it was on Clarendon's recommendation that he was appointed colonel) and was sworn as a privy councillor in 1686. Along with Richard he accompanied Tyrconnell to Dublin when the latter became lord deputy.
On receiving intelligence that William of Orange (qv) planned an invasion of England, James II ordered Tyrconnell to despatch Irish reinforcements, including Anthony Hamilton's footguards. It is not known whether Hamilton accompanied these forces. He later commanded the Jacobite dragoons in the disastrous engagement against the Enniskilleners at Newtownbutler on 31 July 1689, although he escaped the slaughter of his raw levies; it was said that he did not pull up his horse until he reached Navan. He ignored strict orders from Mountcashel to halt and occupy a certain pass near Lisnaskea. His subordinate Captain Lavallin was court-martialled and shot; Hamilton probably escaped because of his influence with the lord deputy. He was reproached on all sides for his conduct and d'Avaux informed Louvois that the Hamiltons were hated in Ireland. He later fought in the second line of cavalry at the Boyne and Limerick.
He held no official position at the exiled court, but was credited with composing the well-known description of the Jacobite court on which Macaulay based his own account. He also wrote some touching verses on James II's death in 1701, and his writing shows his great affection for the prince of Wales and his sister Louisa. Hamilton enjoyed a very close relationship with the duke of Berwick (qv) and his family, and penned numerous poems for the duchess of Berwick and her sisters, including Charlotte, wife of Lord Clare. His correspondence with the duke in the first decade of the eighteenth century abounds with domestic news and provides a delightful picture of court life.
Hamilton is best remembered for his Mémoires de la vie du comte de Grammont (first published 1713; up to eighty editions to date), a biographical account of his brother-in-law, the husband of Elizabeth Hamilton (qv), one of the great beauties of the English and French courts. Philibert de Grammont was exiled in England in 1662 for paying court to a lady-in-waiting to Anne of Austria. While the work is mainly preoccupied with the amorous intrigues of the Caroline court, it sheds much light on contemporary English politics and provides pen-pictures of a number of prominent Irish figures including Ormond, Tyrconnell, and Hamilton's older brothers James (qv) and George.
Hamilton spent the remainder of his life at Saint-Germain, where he died on 21 April 1720 (21 April 1719, according to Hayes). There are three surviving portraits, although there is some doubt over the one that his biographer Clark reproduces from the National Portrait Gallery. There is also a print of the count in his old age which was reproduced in the Strawberry Hill edition of the Mémoires (1722). An engraving is reproduced in Manning's ‘The two Sir George Hamiltons’. Hamilton was said to have been ‘naturally grave and in his latter life sincerely religious, and to have had little readiness of wit in conversation’ (DNB).