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Hamilton History, Bermuda

Hamilton is Bermuda’s only incorporated city and its main harbor similar to the one in Norfolk in US. It is a comparatively young city just like Jacksonville in US. The history of Hamilton can be traced back to 1790 when the Bermuda Government appointed a Commission to plan a new township in the island’s geographical hub in response to appeals from the merchants of different Bermudian parishes. Hamilton was officially incorporated as a town in 1793 and as a city, over a century later, in 1897. In between, Hamilton City displaced St. George to become the capital of Bermuda in 1815.

Hamilton History– Incorporation as A Town

Hamilton was incorporated as a town by an Act of Parliament in 1793; however, all this did not happen in a single day and a long history preceded this event. A commission was entrusted with the job of laying out the plans for the new town in accordance to regulations laid down by the government. As per one such regulation, the streets were to be 50 feet wide. Moreover, since the proposed township was to be the trading/commercial center, the planners were faced with the challenge of incorporating a full-fledged dock area in the layout. (The present-day Hamilton Dock is only an extension of this plan). When everything was finalized, the commission purchased about 145 acres of land and began construction work at the site. Finally, the settlement was declared a town on June 29, 1793 and named after the then governor of Bermuda, Sir Henry Hamilton.

The first elections in the history of Hamilton were held in January 1795, when a mayor, three council members and five common councilors were selected from the Freeholders of the town. The first elected mayor of the town was Daniel Tucker.

Hamilton History– Acceptance as the Capital

Although several mercantile groups had put pressure on the government for the creation of the new town, there were oppositions too. The inhabitants of the historic town of St George were particularly against this and had it not been for the helpful intervention of Sir Henry Hamilton, Hamilton Township would not have been created.

Anyway, once the town was created it soon overtook/outshone St. George in every respect – be it commercial, political, military or other and Hamilton was named the capital instead of St. George on Jan 23, 1815.

Hamilton History– Incorporation as a City to Present Times

The ‘City of Hamilton Act, 1897’, which was passed to mark the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria brought Hamilton the status of a city. Of course, the ‘City of Hamilton Act, 1897’ necessitated the fulfillment of one condition to incorporate it as a city – the construction (rather re-construction) of Hamilton Cathedral (Church Of England) on Church Street, which was duly completed in 1897.

Hamilton did not see much changes in the first half of the 20th century; however, the last two decades saw the city expanding – the present city is spread over 185 acres of land with buildings covering almost 40% of the total city area. Local governing bodies are now considering new schemes to further beautify the city of Hamilton to add to its importance as a tourist destination.

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