Note on `Hamilton' by Sir Robert Stawell Ball: Hamilton's Scottish Grandmother

In the chapter on Sir William Rowan Hamilton included in Great Astronomers (Isbister, London, 1895, pp. 303-334), Sir Robert S. Ball wrote that `his maternal grandmother was of Scottish birth'. In fact it was Hamilton's paternal grandmother who was of Scottish birth. His maternal grandmother was in fact French.

This chapter was adapted from a review of the Life of Sir William Rowan Hamilton by Robert Perceval Graves. In the first chapter of that work Graves did indeed write `The mistake, wherever it originated, arose, doubtless from the fact that the maternal grandmother of Sir W. R. Hamilton was of Scottish birth' (Life of Sir William Rowan Hamilton, vol. 1, p. 6). However Graves subsequently pointed out in his Addendum to the Life of Sir William Rowan Hamilton that `maternal' here was a misprint for `paternal'.

I have accordingly changed `maternal' to `paternal' in this transcription of R. S. Ball's account of the life of William Rowan Hamilton.

David R. Wilkins

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