|Mounted on an album page this image shows Lt. Col. William George Hamley of the Royal Engineers.
William George Hamley was born on 28 June, 1815 in Bodmin, Cornwall the eldest son of Vice-Admiral William Hamley and
Barbara Ogilvy. The Admiral had earned a bit of a name for himself during the Napoleonic Wars in 1806 when he
distinguished himself at the capture of Dara on the Dalmatian coast. The Admiralwas the son of William Hamley Esq. who
remembered for founding the noted toy company originally known as "Noah's Ark" but today known by the family name -
After education at a local grammar school William George Hamley entered the Royal Engineers in 1833.
2nd Lieutenant - 3 August, 1833
1st Lieutenant - 25 September, 1836
2nd Captain - 1 May, 1845
Captain - 14 July, 1851
Lieut. Col. - 10 June, 1856
Brevet Colonel - 10 June, 1861
Colonel - 8 February, 1866
Retires on full-pay - 27 January, 1872
Honorary Major-General - 27 July, 1872
A search of Harts' Army List does not show Hamley every serving with the rank of Major and it appears that he must have
skipped that rank which would have been a somewhat unusual occurrence. In fact the Royal Engineers at this time did not
have the regular rank of Major. Mr. Tim Watkins has provided some information found at http://reubique.com/ explaining
this seemingly missing rank:
"Under Queen's Warrant, 5-7-1872, the rank of Major was established and that of 2nd Captain abolished. All 2nd Captains
from that date were styled Captains, and Captains, Majors. Though fresh commissions were not issued, the dates of their
existing commissions held good for the next rank."
While W. G. Hamley never saw action in active service during his entire career it was none the less marked by some
Hamley was appointed Lieutenant Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the island Bermuda in 1864-65 and again in
1866-67. It was during his first tenure (serving as Acting Governor) that the island was hit by an epidemic of yellow fever
which arrived on board a Confederate blockade-runner. In The Life of General Sir Edward Bruce Hamley*, William is
described as stalwartly working to stem the plague's tide until he himself was stricken with the fever. He recovered but the
ill-effects of the sickness would follow him for the rest of his life. Perhaps as reward for his dedicated service during this time
he was appointed to the Council of the Bermudas by Queen Victoria on December 23, 1865.
After his return to England from Bermuda The Life of General Sir Edward Bruce Hamley states that William's "life was one
long martyrdom from sciatica and acute rheumatic pains, when restless days would succeed the broken nights. But nothing
could sour that sweet temper or quell the intellectual energy. Enfeebled by pain, he would pull himself together to write one
of his thoughtful articles for Blackwood's when he was one of 'Magas' regular contributors."
Hamley had quite a literary career. As far back as 1850, while still a Captain he had written his first novel Lady Lee's
Widowhood. About the same time he began writing for both Fraser's and Blackwood's magazines. The novel Captain
Clutterbuck's Champagne. A West Indian Reminiscence was published in 1862. One of the Blackwood's series about the
opening of the Suez Canal was titled A New Sea in an Old Land: Being Papers Suggested by a Visit to Egypt at the End of
1869 (1871) After his retirement in 1872 he wrote the novels Guilty of Not Guilty? A Tale (1878), The House of Lys (1879)
and Traseaden Hall: When George the Third was King (1882).
William Hamley married Olivia Arbuthnot Gallwey on 8 September, 1847 and had a least four children - three sons and a
Major General William George Hamley died on 6 April, 1893.
4 1/4 inches by 3 1/4 inches (10.8 cm x 8.9 cm)
* General Sir Edward Bruce Hamley KCMG KCB, Royal Engineers (1824-1893) was William George Hamley's younger
brother. He served in the Crimea as aide-de-camp to Sir Richard Dacres and later in Egypt at the battle of Tel el-Kebir when
he commanded the 2nd division of the expedition under Sir Garnet Wolseley. He was also a prolific writer.