Sir James Hamilton of Finnart
Sir James Hamilton of Finnart (1496-1540) was the eldest of the 1st Earl of Arran 2nd Duke of Hamilton whose family seat was Brodick Castle Arran. Arran had no son from his first marriage, hence Finnart was illegitimate via an affair with Mary Boyd, daughter of the Earl of Kilmarnock. Finnart was legitimised by his father and brought into the “entail” so due to inherit the Hamilton Estates but Arran subsequently divorced and had a son via a second marriage. Until that son was born Finnart held the unique position of being the direct heir to the Scottish throne and Hamilton Estates. A brave warrior and obviously aware of his position he was banished to France where it is claimed he studied under Leonardo de Vinci, and thus saw at first hand many examples of Renaissance architecture. This had a profound influence on his subsequent work in Scotland. His biggest achievement was the construction of the Royal Apartments at Stirling Castle, the construction cost he paid for out of his own pocket. James 5th legitimised Finnart so that he could take his place at the Royal Court-which was consistent with him being the son of the Earl of Arran. He met with an untimely end and was executed having been tried on what was said to be a fabricated charge and shortly after he had been legitimised and paid no less than £4000 by James 5th for the construction completed at Stirling. After his death his estate and Castle (Craignthan) were confiscated by James 5th such that his descendants arrived in Ireland destitute. Later his land was absorbed into the larger Hamilton Palace Estate north of Lanark. His influence in Scottish castle design is acknowledged in various literary works.