Plantation of Ulster

   In l603 following the flight of the Irish chieftains James 1 of England embarked on his grand plan "The Plantation of Ulster".
   The confiscated Ulster lands were sold off to major Scottish and English families who "planted" these newly acquired lands with settlers. Among the first of these adventurers to arrive in this "plantation" was Sir Hugh Montgomery and with him came Hugh Hamill and his family from Roughwood. The Montgomerys made their base in the Ards Peninsula now Newtonards while the Hamills moved northwards into Antrim.
   Already in Ulster however were another family of Hamills. The O'Hamills gaelic "O hAghmaill" were one of the leading sects of Cenel Binnigh, a branch of the Cenel or clan Eoghain(Owen). As such these Hamills claim descent from Binneagh son of Eoghan son of the fifth century King of Ireland Naill of the Nine Hostages, founder of the great Ui Neill or O'Neill dynasty, the oldest family in Ulster. These O'Hamills are a separate family and stayed in Co Armagh without venturing from there. They practiced the old Roman Catholic faith.

   I mention these Hamills only in passing because the North Antrim Hamills are descended almost entirely from Hugh Hamill of Roughwood. The name Hamill and O'Hamill are both found within the same area but the "O" prefix was largely dropped by the end of the l8th century.
   We know very little of the family for the next twenty-five years. But in the Muster Rolls (ref/d/ 1759/3c/3)for Antrim taken in 1631 we find the following;

Archibald Hamill James Hamill
John Hamill John Hamill
John Hamill jun. John Hamill
Hugh Hamill Roger Hamill
William Hamill  

   They are living in the Barony of Dunluce and Lower Antrim (Ballymoney and Ballymena Town)
   In 1636 Hugh Hamill and John Hamill return to Ards for the funeral of Sir Hugh Montgomery, father of Sir James Montgomery, the family they had accompanied from Scotland and are listed among the principle mourners (original documents exist from 1636 showing the Hamill family's involvement).

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