|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 Admiral was the son of William Hamley Esq. who
remembered for founding the noted toy company originally known as "Noah's Ark" but today is known by the family name -
After education at a local grammar school and the Royal Military College, 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 ever 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 23 December 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.