Anne Hamilton, 3rd Duchess of Hamilton, lived from 6 January 1631 to 17 October 1716. She was a noblewoman who rebuilt Hamilton Palace and did much to develop the town of Hamilton. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Anne Hamilton was born at Whitehall Palace in London, the daughter of Sir James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Hamilton and Lady Mary Fielding. Her father was one of Charles I's advisers, while her mother was a Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Henrietta-Maria, Queen-consort of Charles I. Anne's mother died when she was six and her father sent her to Hamilton Palace to be raised by his mother. Sir James Hamilton was executed in 1649, by which time Anne was 18, during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. He left his titles and estates to his younger brother, William, Earl of Lanark.
William himself died from wounds received at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, stating in his will that the estates he had inherited from Sir James should pass to Anne Hamilton, and that she should become the 3rd Duchess of Hamilton in her own right. She also became Marchioness of Clydesdale, Countess of Arran, Lanark and Cambridge, and the Lady Aven, Innerdale, Machanshire and Polmont. At the age of just 20, Anne was nominally among the most powerful and wealthy women in Scotland, even having a (distant) claim to the Scottish throne. All this mattered little during her early years as Duchess, however, as the conflict in which her father and uncle had died resulted in huge debts and led to the confiscation of many of the family estates. Meanwhile her inheritance of the Hamilton title was disputed by a male relative, the Earl of Abercorn.
In 1656, Anne married William Douglas, 1st Earl of Selkirk at Corstorphine Kirk. Together they worked to pay off her family debts, regain her estates and establish her right to the title of 3rd Duchess of Hamilton. This process was greatly helped by the repayment of £25,000 by Charles II which her father had lent him. Charles also, at her request, made Anne's husband the Duke of Hamilton for life. Between raising 13 children the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton rebuilt Hamilton Palace, establishing the core of what, under later Dukes, would become the largest private residence in the western hemisphere.
William Douglas died in 1694. Anne continued with the redevelopment of the Palace, and also did a great deal to assist in the development of the town of Hamilton, building a school, almshouses, and a woollen factory and a spinning school. In later life a supporter of the Darien scheme and an opponent of the 1707 Act of Union, Anne died at the age of 84 and is buried in Hamilton Parish Church. She is remembered as "Good Duchess Anne".