Many people have wondered if Margaret Hamilton, the pioneering software engineer who helped NASA land on the Moon, was related to Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father and first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. The rumor has been fueled by their shared surname, their remarkable achievements, and their connection to American history. However, the truth is that there is no evidence of any direct or close familial link between them. Here are some facts that explain why.
Margaret Hamilton was born in 1936 in Paoli, Indiana, to Kenneth Heafield and Ruth Esther Heafield (née Partington). Her father was a descendant of Scottish immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania in the 18th century. Her mother was a daughter of a French Huguenot physician and a British woman. According to Wikipedia, Margaret Hamilton’s paternal grandfather was Alexander Hamilton Heafield, who was named after his own grandfather, Alexander Hamilton, the laird of Cambuskeith, Ayrshire, Scotland. This Scottish Alexander Hamilton was not related to the American one, who was born in 1755 or 1757 in Charlestown, Nevis, a British colony in the Caribbean. His father was James Hamilton, a Scottish trader and son of another Alexander Hamilton, the fourth laird of Grange, Lanarkshire, Scotland. His mother was Rachel Fawcett Lavine, a woman of French and British ancestry who had been married to a Danish or German merchant named John Michael Lavine. Therefore, Margaret Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton had different ancestral origins and did not share any common ancestors in their known genealogy.
Another reason why Margaret Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton were not related is that they had different surnames at birth. Margaret Hamilton’s maiden name was Heafield, which she changed to Hamilton when she married James Cox Hamilton in 1958. James Cox Hamilton was a Harvard law student who was also a descendant of Scottish immigrants. His surname came from his paternal grandfather, William Henry Hamilton, who was born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States in the 19th century. William Henry Hamilton’s father was John Hamilton, who was born in Scotland and moved to Ireland as a young man. John Hamilton’s father was also named John Hamilton, and he was a son of Robert Hamilton, the seventh laird of Silvertonhill, Lanarkshire, Scotland. This Robert Hamilton was a distant cousin of the American Alexander Hamilton’s paternal grandfather, the fourth laird of Grange. However, this does not mean that Margaret Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton were cousins themselves. They were separated by several generations and branches of the Hamilton family tree, and they did not inherit the same surname from their common ancestor.
The third reason why Margaret Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton were not related is that they lived in different times and places and had no contact with each other or their respective families. Margaret Hamilton grew up in Indiana and Michigan and pursued her education and career in mathematics and computer science. She worked at MIT’s Instrumentation Laboratory (later Draper Laboratory), where she led the development of the software for the Apollo lunar missions. She later founded two software companies: Higher Order Software in 1976 and Hamilton Technologies in 1986. She received many awards and honors for her contributions to science and engineering, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. Alexander Hamilton grew up in Nevis and St. Croix and moved to New York City when he was a teenager. He became involved in the American Revolution as a soldier and an aide to George Washington. He later became a lawyer and a politician and played a key role in shaping the new nation’s constitution, government, and economy. He founded the Bank of New York in 1784 and the Federalist Party in 1791. He died in 1804 after being fatally wounded in a duel with Aaron Burr.
Margaret Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton were two remarkable individuals who made significant impacts on American history and culture. However, they were not related by blood or marriage. They had different origins, surnames, and lives that did not intersect or overlap. The rumor that they were related is based on superficial similarities and coincidences that do not reflect their actual genealogical or historical connections. Therefore, it is safe to say that Margaret Hamilton was not related to Alexander Hamilton.