Hamilton was originally known as Cadzow, derived from the Celtic word Cadihou, the name of the 6th century summer hunting lodge of Rederech, ruler of the ancient Kingdom of Strathclyde. It was here in 568AD that St Kentigern (St Mungo), the patron saint of Glasgow, converted the king of the Britons and his queen, Langoreth to Christianity.
During the Wars of Scottish Independence the Hamilton family initially supported the English and Walter fitz Gilbert (the head of the Hamilton family) was governor of Bothwell Castle on behalf of the English. However, he later changed loyalty to Robert the Bruce, following the Battle of Bannockburn, and ceded Bothwell to him. For this act, he was rewarded with a portion of land which had been forfeited by the Comyns at Dalserf and later the Barony and lands of Cadzow, which in time would become the town of Hamilton.
Hamilton Palace (pictuted) was a large country house located north-east of Hamilton. The former seat of the Dukes of Hamilton, it was built in 1695 and subsequently much enlarged. Widely acknowledged as having been one of the grandest houses in Britain/Western Europe, the palace was demolished in 1927, due to the prohibitive cost of upkeep and the subsidence caused by nearby coal mines.
Cadzow was renamed Hamilton in the time of James, Lord Hamilton, who was married to Princess Mary, the daughter of King James II. The Hamilton family themselves most likely took their name from the lands of Humbleton or Homildon in Northumberland, or perhaps from a place near Leicester.
The Hamiltons constructed many landmark buildings in the area including the Hamilton Mausoleum in Strathclyde Park, which has the longest echo of any building in the world. The Hamilton family are major land-owners in the area to this day. Hamilton Palace was the seat of the Dukes of Hamilton until the early-twentieth century.