Last revised 12 January 2024.

Mary Hamilton's life (1756 – 1816)

We map social networks in five unequal periods of Mary Hamilton's life, in order to visualise who she principally interacts with, and their interrelationships:

  • Adolescence (1758 – May 1777, including a few items addressed to her parents during her childhood)
    • [available soon]
  • Court (June 1777 – November 1782, when she was employed by Queen Charlotte as a sub-governess to the princesses)
    • [available soon]
  • Clarges (January 1783 – May/June 1785, when she shared a house in Clarges Street, had a hectic social life, and kept diaries)
  • Marriage-N (September 1785 – January 1797, when her marital home was in the north of England)
    • [available soon]
  • Marriage-S (February 1797 – April 1826, when her marital home was in the south, including a few items postdating her death in 1816)
    • [available soon]


The visualisations display multiple interconnections among a few dozen of the most significant persons in that period. Unsurprisingly, given her ubiquity in our source materials, Mary Hamilton plays a disproportionate part (probably John Dickenson too in the last two periods), not least because she often provides the shortest path between two other nodes, a bridging role that was rated highly in the processing.1

For this exercise we did not use the more than two thousand familial relationships recorded in our personography database during the project; the data fed into the Gephi mapping software took no account of family ties. What is striking is that many husband-wife, parent-child and sibling pairings nevertheless become apparent in network visualisation, where each node colour represents one densely interconnected cluster:2 thus in the Clarges period we see the Dawsons, Glovers, (Frederick) Hamiltons, Veseys and Wakes. Another cluster consists of Hannah More, Elizabeth Carter, Elizabeth Montagu and Mrs Garrick. If the same proves true in other periods of Hamilton's life, it would support the claim that plausible networks can be derived from document metadata and transcriptions alone, as explained below.


Methodology: A sketch

The information for network visualisation is wholly derived from documents in the archive, using an innovative, reproducible methodology that requires little or no close reading, subjective judgement or consideration of external databases or collections. We combine metadata from all correspondence in the archive, whether or not transcribed, with information derived from people mentioned (‘mentionees’) in transcribed correspondence and diaries. The strength of links between individuals is derived from the frequencies of author-recipient, author-mentionee, recipient-mentionee and mentionee-mentionee co-occurrences, counted once each per letter or day's entry. The contribution of each type of frequency is weighted by careful sampling. By going beyond the metadata and utilising textual mark-up already present in the transcription files, we can begin to show relationships not involving Mary Hamilton or her husband, who between them are letter-writer or addressee in the vast majority of correspondence. The technique will be described in full in

Denison, David & Tino Oudesluijs (in progress), 'Reconstructing Mary Hamilton’s social networks'. To appear in Sophie Coulombeau, David Denison & Nuria Yáñez-Bouza (eds.), Mary Hamilton and her networks: Gender, sociability and manuscript.




1 The measure is called ‘betweenness centrality’.
2 Such a cluster is called a ‘modularity class’.

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