The Hamilton service, one of the great Storr dinner services, was commissioned for the 10th Duke of Hamilton as his ambassadorial plate on his appointment to the court of St. Petersburg on 28 May 1806. Its superb quality and design should be compared with the celebrated Egremont service of 1806/7 sold on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines through the Presidential Commission for Good Government, (Christie's, New York, January 10, 1991, lot 54). A set of triangular dishes from the same service is in an American private collection and illustrated in M., The Collector's Dictionary of the Silver and Gold of Great Britain and North America, 2nd ed., 1985, cover illustration and plate 74. A significant portion of the Hamilton service, comprising some 278 pieces and weighing a total of 9,513 oz., was dispersed by Christie's in London in 1919.
Alexander, 10th Duke of Hamilton, born in 1767, was the premier peer in the Peerage of Scotland and Hereditary Keeper of Holyrood House. His early travels in Italy instilled in him a great love of art and he became a prodigious collector. He entered politics in 1802 as a Whig, but as it was remarked in an obituary notice '... timidity and variableness of temperament prevented his rendering much service to, or being much relied on by his Party... with a great predisposition to over estimate the importance of ancient birth... he well deserved to be considered the proudest man in England' (Complete Peerage).
The Duke of Hamilton was appointed a Knight of the Garter in 1826 and was Lord High Steward at the coronations of William IV and Queen Victoria. He married in 1810 Susan Euphemia, daughter and heir of William Beckford, described as '... one of the handsomest women of her time' (Lord Malmesbury, Memoirs of an ex-Minister, 1855, p. 487)
Lord Lamington in The Days of the Dandies wrote of the Duke thus: 'Never was such a magnifico as the 10th Duke, the Ambassador to the Empress Catherine; when I knew him he was very old but held himself straight as any Grenadier. He was always dressed in a military laced undress coat, tights and Hessian boots &c.' Lady Stafford mentions '... his great coat, long Queue and Fingers cover'd with gold Rings.'