Robert Hamilton Lang

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Sir Robert Hamilton Lang KCMG (1832-1913) was a Scottish-born financier, diplomat and collector of antiquities.

Early life and career

A son of the Rev. Gavin Lang, parish minister at Glassford, Lanarkshire, Robert Hamilton Lang was born in Scotland in 1832 and received his schooling at the famous Hamilton Academy from which he entered the University of Glasgow. Following graduation, Lang entered business and after a period posted in Beirut, was sent to Cyprus in 1861. In 1863 Lang was appointed manager of the Imperial Ottoman Bank in Larnaca.

Imperial Ottoman Bank headquarters, Constantinople, 1896

During his time in Cyprus, Lang also served as Acting Vice-Consul of Cyprus and as full Consul from 1871 ‘till his departure for Cairo in 1872, to run the bank’s operations there. In 1875 Lang was appointed a director of the Imperial Ottoman Bank at Constantinople.[1][2]

Excavations and collections

During his time on Cyprus Lang began acquiring antiquities, this leading to his own excavations around the villages of Dhali, in particular the site of ancient Idalion, and Pyla. In 1870 Lang loaned a collection of his Cypriot antiquities to the Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow (subsequently donating this collection to the new Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in 1903) and in 1872, the British Museum purchased a major part of his remaining collection,[3] with other parts going to the Louvre in Paris and to museums in Berlin.[4][5]

Lang wrote an account of his excavations at the Idalion site, this published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature (second series, volume 11, 1878), and a further account of his archaeological excavations in Cyprus in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine (1905.) [6] (Lang also wrote the book Cyprus: its history, its present resources, and future prospects (Macmillan & Co., 1878) based on his evaluation of the economic potential of the island.) [7][8]

Later career and ecclesiastical family

Lang was latterly appointed Director General of the Imperial Ottoman Bank, based in Constantinople, and was invested Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1886. Lang retired back to Britain to Dedham in Essex. Ill health precluded his attendance at the marriage of his second daughter (Mary Alice Lang) in New York in 1911 and he died at Hampstead, London, in 1913.[9]

Apart from his father having been a Church of Scotland minister, Robert Hamilton Lang’s younger brother, the Very Rev Dr John Marshall Lang (1834-1909) was a Church of Scotland minister, a Moderator of its General Assembly (1893–94) and Principal of the University of Aberdeen (1900-09.) Robert Hamilton Lang’s nephew (third son of son of John Marshall Lang), Cosmo Gordon Lang was to become Archbishop of York (1909-1928) and latterly, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1928-1942. Another nephew (the Very Rev. Marshall Buchanan Lang, fifth son of John Marshall Lang) was to be appointed Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 1935-36.[10]


  1. G. Hill, 'A history of Cyprus. Vol. IV. The Ottoman province. The British colony. 1571-1948' (Cambridge, 1952), chapter VI passim. Retrieved 6 April 2011
  2. Men of note in finance and commerce, E. Wilson, 1901, page 135 – Lang, Sir Robert Hamilton. Retrieved 6 April 2011
  3. British Museum Collection
  4. [1] Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum. The Hamilton Lang Collection. Retrieved 6 April 2011
  5. [2] Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum, article and collection provenance. Retrieved 6 April 2011
  6. R. Lang, 'Reminiscences - archaeological research in Cyprus', Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine 177 (1905), pp. 622-639. Retrieved 6 April 2011
  7. [3] British Museum, collection database. Biographical information Sir Robert Hamilton Lang. Retrieved 6 April 2011
  8. E. Goring, 'A mischievous pastime. Digging in Cyprus in the Nineteenth Century' (Edinburgh, 1988). Retrieved 6 April 2011
  9. [4] New York Times 15 June 1911. Retrieved 6 April 2011
  10. [5] The Glasgow Story – Rev. Dr. John Marshall Lang. Retrieved 6 April 2011