Clan Hamilton Badge Clan Hamilton Society
Clan Symbols


Clan Hamilton Crest


Motto:		Through

Gaelic Motto:	Troimh

Badge:		Standing on a ducal coronet, 
		an oak tree fructed and 
		penetrated transversely by a 
		frame saw, proper, the frame Or.

Plant Badge:	Bay Leaves


Coat of Arms

A chiefs coat of arms fulfills within the clan or family the same purpose as the Royal Arms do in a Kingdom. There is no such thing as a family coat of arms which anyone can assume, or a whole family can use. The crest in our badge is a subsidiary part of the Duke of Hamilton's coat of arms. The Duke's coat of arms is heritage property owned by him through lineage from the original granter or confirmee and thus descending like a Peerage. The coat of arms indicates that an individual is the head of the family. The arms of heads of each subsidiary line or household descending from members who have themselves established a right to a subsidiary version of the arms, contain a mark of difference indicating their position in the family. It is not a new coat of arms; it is the ancient ancestral arms with a mark of cadency, showing the place of the bearer in the family.


The parts of a coat of arms are:

(a) the Shield bearing the basic device/service (ex: boat, sextant);
(b) the Helmet, with it's crest, which sits on top of the helmet;
(c) the Motto in a scroll;
(d) the Mantling or Cape, which kept the sun off the wearer's armor in hot weather;
(e) and, rarely, two supporters on either side of the shield, which are external attributes to the arms of Peers, chiefs and a very few other persons of special importance.

On top of the helmet the crest sits on a wreath, or a crest coronet (the term ducal cornet is often used instead of crest coronet), or a chapeau. When the crest issues from a ducal (crest) coronet or sits on a cap of maintenance, also called a chapeau, it signifies that it was granted as a privilege of office or rank of nobility.

Hamilton Arms

Typical Hamilton Arms, less the motto


Hamilton Crest Badge

Chiefs of clans have the right to wear their crests as badges: either simpliciter, i.e. without the accompaniment of circlet, motto or feathers behind the badge; or, as is more usual, surrounded with a plain circlet inscribed with his motto or slogan, (not a strap and buckle), and, if they choose, with three eagle's feathers behind the circlet.

The Clan Hamilton crest badge consists of the crest of the Duke of Hamilton's coat of arms encircled with a strap and buckle, the strap bearing the family motto "Through". The strap and buckle is the sign of a clansman and shows a family affiliation by wearing the head of the family's crest within the strap. Although the crest badge is purchased by, and owned by the clansman, the heraldic crest and motto on it belong to the Duke. They are the Duke's heraldic property which clansmen are only permitted to wear.

Origin of Motto Through

Now that I have all the background you say, "What does the tree and the saw mean and where ever did the motto come from?" Well, legend says that one Gilbert de Hamilton was in office at the court of Edward the II of England. In 1325, he spoke in public, praising Robert the Bruce, and was assaulted by John de Spencer who felt that the speech was treacherous. Gilbert de Hamilton challenged his assailant, but de Spencer refused to fight, so Gilbert de Hamilton killed him. He then fled with his servant towards Scotland, hotly pursued by members of the enraged de Spencer family. Shortly after entering Scotland, Gilbert reached a forest and, realizing that he was close to being captured, he and his attendant changed clothes with two woodcutters. They took a frame-saw and began felling an oak tree. As his enemies drew closes, Gilbert de Hamilton noticed that his servant was looking decidedly nervous, and afraid that he might give them away with his frightened stares, he diverted his attention by shouting "Through", the traditional woodcutters exclamation. (In North America, Timber" is the commonly used exclamation.)

In celebration of his successful escape from sure death, the family took 'Through" as their motto, and incorporated an oak tree and a frame saw into their coat of arms. The ducal cornet was probably incorporated into the Hamilton crest after the birth of James in 1475, second Lord Hamilton, who was the son of James, first Lord Hamilton and his wife the Princess Mary. This second Lord Hamilton was created Earl of Arran in 1503, and as the son of Princess Mary, was in line for the throne of Scotland.

Excerpted from article by Oliver W. Hamilton, Jr., published in The Review, December, 1997.

Hamilton Tartans:

"Every isle differs from each other in their fancy of making plads, as to the stripes and Breath and Colours. This Humour is as different thro the main land of the Highlands in-so-far that they who have seen those places, are able at the first view of a man's plad, to guess the place of his residence....". So said Martin Martin writing in 1703, making the first documented reference to tartan as a means of identification.

It is now generally accepted that clan tartans were established and named toward the end of the 18th century. Prior to that, while clan, district and tartan were often closely associated, the idea of a single uniform tartan had not yet emerged. Do not assume, however, that the tartan patterns were created at that time. William Wilson, the foremost weaving manufacturer since c.1770, took a great interest in reproducing "perfectly genuine patterns" and engaged in extensive correspondence with his Highland agents to gather information and actual samples of the cloth woven in the clan districts. (Source:"Identifying Tartan" by Blair Urquart)

As a lowland family, the Hamiltons probably did not wear the tartan or kilt in ancient times. However, there is ample evidence that they did wear both at least as early as the 18th century. Paintings of that period show the Duke of Hamilton, in his role as Keeper of Holyroodhouse and the Premier Duke of Scotland, wearing tartan kilts on ceremonial occasions.

The Hamilton Tartan consists of three broad blue stripes crossing three broad blue stripes formed by single thin white stripes. This same pattern, or sett, is carried on a field of red (Dress) or green (Hunting). As the wool in older times was dyed with natural vegetable dyes, these colors were much more subdued and muted when compared with material colored with modern dyes. This has led to the terms "Ancient' or "Muted" when naming tartans of this type. The darker and much brighter colored tartans are likewise termed "Modern".

Hamilton Modern Dress
Hamilton Modern Hunting
Hamilton Ancient Dress
Hamilton Ancient Hunting


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