Hamond, Elton (1786–1820)

Businessman, writer and suicide. The son of a wealthy London tea merchant, he was a cousin of Stamford Raffles (1781–1826; DNB), colonial administrator and founder of Singapore. One of Hamond’s sisters lived for a time in the household of Anna Laetitia Barbauld. Hamond’s business failed in 1813. He committed suicide by shooting himself through the head on 1 January 1820. He had, he explained in a note left for the coroner, been planning his death for seven years. Hamond moved in the same circles as Henry Herbert Southey and harboured ambitions to be a writer. In early 1819 he asked Robert Southey, whom he had met socially, to act as his literary executor. The Poet Laureate did not commit himself to doing so, but wrote twice to Hamond. After he received no reply to the second letter, he assumed he had caused offence and that the correspondence was at an end. The next he heard was in January 1820, when Henry Crabb Robinson informed him that Hamond had committed suicide and had named Southey as his literary executor. The latter took the task seriously and proposed an edition of Hamond’s writings. After reading through his surviving manuscripts Southey changed his mind, determining that they had no literary worth and should remain unpublished. Henry Crabb Robinson noted that Hamond’s problems stemmed from self-obsession and a sense of failure: ‘while he had a conviction that he was to have been, and ought to have been, the greatest of men, he was conscious that in fact he was not.’