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Gavin Hamilton (1751—1805) - Lawyer

A Scottish Lawyer, active in Mauchline, Ayrshire. He was a friend of Robert Burns, to whom he leased the farm of Mossgiel in 1784. Hamilton ran into conflict with the local Minister William Auld and the Kirk Session over the payment of the parish poor fund with which he was entrusted. The failure of their legal proceedings against him led the Kirk Session, on the instigation of William Fisher, to prosecute Hamilton for Sabbath-breaking, an incident that prompted Burns to write the poem Holy Willie's Prayer. Hamilton appealed to the Presbytery of Ayr and his appeal was upheld, as it was when the Kirk Session appealed in turn to the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr. The row between Hamilton and the Church helped to form Burns's discontentment with the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. Hamilton was an early patron of Burns, and the Kilmarnock Edition is dedicated to him.

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