Hamilton, Emma

BORN 26 Apr 1765, Neston, Cheshire - DIED 16 Jan 1815, Calais, Pas-de-Calais
CAUSE OF DEATH amoebic dysentery
GRAVE LOCATION Calais, Pas-de-Calais: Cimetière de la plaine Brochot (cleared)

Emma Lyon lived a wild life in London and had a daughter, Emma, by Sir Harry Featherstonhaugh before she became the mistress of Charles Greville. Greville sent her to his uncle William Hamilton in Naples in exchange for the remission of some debts. For Hamilton and his guests she performed a new kind of dances inspired by classical elements. Goethe saw her in Naples in 1787 and enjoyed himself. She married the sixty year old Hamilton in 1791.

In 1798 she became the mistress of Lord Nelson when the latter was in Naples to fight the french. She gave birth to Nelsons daughter Horatia in 1801. In a codicil to his testament Nelson had asked the English government to provide for her, but when he died in 1805 they didn't. Emma lived in poverty and became an alcoholic.

She died in France in 1815 and was buried in a small grave at the churchyard of the St. Pierre Church in Calais. In 1816 her remains were transferred to the Cimetière de la plaine Brochot in Calais and in 1849 they were placed in a mass grave at the Southern Cemetery, Route de Dunkerque.

After her death Horatio was returned to England by the English consul and raised by Nelson's family. She knew Nelson was her father but never admitted that Emma was her mother.

• Husband: Hamilton, William (1791-1803, London: Marylebone Church)

Related persons
• visited Haydn, Joseph
• is grandparent of Nelson-Johnson, Horatia
• was written about by Sontag, Susan


"Emma Hart as Miranda" by George Romney.


"Lady Emma Hamilton" by George Romney (National Portrait Gallery, London).


• Adler, Josef, Handbuch der Grabstätten, 2. Band, Die Grabstätte der Europäer, Deutsches Kunstverlag, München, 1986
• Russel, Jack, Nelson and the Hamiltons, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1972
• Schöne, Günter, Bühnenstars, Florian Noetzel, Wilhelmshaven, 1998

Hamilton, William

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 20 May 2023