John James Hamilton (July 1756 – January 27, 1818), 1st Marquess of Abercorn, bought the former Bentley Priory, which had been converted into a private residence following its seizure from the church by Henry VIII, sometime around 1778. Three times married he spent lavishly on the property that had already been remodelled by the most eminent architect of the day, Sir John Soans. Hamilton never knew his father, Captain John Hamilton, who having served throughout the War of the Austrian Succession returned home only to accidentally drown while in Portsmouth harbour. As a politician Hamilton was a friend of William Pitt the Younger and called for the abolition of slavery. When he died his titles were passed to his grandson, James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Abercorn. He lived there intermittently until 1846 when the Dowager Queen Adelaide leased it and remained there until her death on December 2, 1849. Three years later the Priory was bought by Sir John Kelk, a well-known railway engineer.
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