Reverend Dr. William Hamilton, Presbyterian Pastor, Mobile, Alabama: 1854

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Presbyterian pastor expelled in 1854 from his ministry for "sodomy"

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On June 6, 1854, The New York Times reports:

A sad story is told of the fall of Rev. WILLIAM T. HAMILTON, D.D., of Mobile, Alabama, formerly of Newark, N.J., and one who has been in great repute for his popular eloquence. The authentication of it comes to us in the following resolution, adopted May 18, by the Mobile Presbytery:

Resolved, That, in view of the confessions of Rev. WILLIAM T. HAMILTON, D.D., made by him, and contained in his letters addressed to the session and the congregation of the Government-street Church, and to this Presbytery, he be, and is hereby, deposed from the ministry, and also suspended from the Sacraments of the Church, till he give satisfactory evidence of the sincerity of his repentance.[1]

On July 8, 1854, The New York TImes reports:

Rev. Dr. Hamilton, for many years the leading Presbyterian pastor and preacher in Mobile, Ala., has been found guilty of sodomy, and been expelled from the ministry. When investigation made his guilt apparent, the indignation of the citizens of Mobile was so great the reverend gentleman was compelled to flee from the city or risk the chances of life in the hands of an infuriated mob.[2]

Dictionary of Alabama Biography

Space added between sentences to facilitate reading and research

The Rev. Hamilton mentioned is almost certainly Thomas William Hamilton discussed in the Dictionary of Alabama Biography, and said to have ministered to the Government Street Presbyterian church until 1854:

HAMILTON, WILLIAM THOMAS, Presbyterian minister and teacher, was born January 22, 1796, in Sheffield, Yorkshire County, England, and died in 1884, in Mobile; son of Peter Hamilton, of Sheffield, England, whose father, tradition says, was a Jacobite in the Rebellion of 1745, and who lost his life and estates. The Hamilton family is of Scotch origin.

Rev. Dr. Hamilton was educated at Niter Alia, at Fuineck, near Leeds, and was later transferred to "The Academy," a German college in England designed to train young men for the ministry.

He taught in a Moravian school at Mirfield, Yorkshire, later at another Moravian school at Grace Hill, near Belfast, and finally in his own school at Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

In July 1816, he sailed for America landing at Charleston, S. C., while his wife, who came on another ship, landed at Philadelphia.

He became principal of the Dauphin County academy, Harrisburg, Pa., in May, 1817, and in 1821 removed to Philadelphia where he opened a private school that was patronized by the influential Quaker families of that city, later uniting his school with the Protestant Episcopal academy, on Locust St.

During these years of teaching, he was diligently pursuing his classical education.

While in Philadelphia he studied for the ministry and was licensed to preach in October, 1823.

He was pastor of the First Presbyterian church, Newark, N. J., from 1824 until 1834, when he came to Mobile as pastor of the Government Street Presbyterian church which he served until 1854.

Dr. Hamilton received the A. M. degree before coming to Mobile where he received the honorary D. D. from several colleges.

Author: "The Friend of Moses," 1852.

Married: February 16, 1816, at Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England, to Charlotte Elizabeth, daughter of Dr. John Cartledge, a physician and surgeon.

Children: 1. Peter (q. v.); 2. Thomas A. G. T. (q. v.); 3. Samuel Agnew Christmas, d. young; 4. Joseph C. (q. v.). Last residence: Mobile.[3]


  1. New York Times, June 6, 1854. Page not listed on online database. Headline: "CLERICAL DEFECTION"
  2. New York Times, July 8, 1854. Page not listed on online database. Headline: “MORAL AND RELIGIOUS; Church Intelligence.” This is the second use of the word "sodomy" in The New York Times.
  3. Dictionary of Alabama Biography by Thomas McAddory Owen, and Marie Bankhead Owen, [WHERE PUBLISHED? PUBLISHER? YEAR OF PUBLICATION?], p. 735.


Dictionary of Alabama Biography. "HAMILTON, WILLIAM THOMAS".

Hamilton, William Thomas. "The Friend of Moses," 1852. Modern edition: William Thomas Hamilton, The Friend of Moses; or, A Defence of the Pentateuch. Hardcover - Laminated cover, Richardson Publishing, October 2009. ISBN: 9781115540902 / 1115540904.

New York Times. “MORAL AND RELIGIOUS; Church Intelligence.” July 8, 1854. (This is the second use of the word "sodomy" in The New York Times).

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