Select Sinclair Surname Genealogy

Here are some Sinclair stories and accounts over the years:

The St. Clairs and Some Fancy Mythmaking

The St. Clair family has gotten connected in popular myth today with the Templars, the Priory of Sion, and talks of bloodlines in books such as Holy Blood, Holy Grail and Dan Brown’s best-seller The Da Vinci Code. 

These books have been responsible for some of the difficulties encountered at Rosslyn Chapel and for the overcrowding that still continues there.   Rosslyn Chapel featured prominently in The Da Vinci Code as it was thought to have harbored dark secrets of the Knights Templar.

Some writers have taken the St. Clair connection even further.  The Templars, they claim, had the motive, the method, and the strong motivation to come to North America.  Led by Prince Henry Sinclair, they established both a safe haven for the Merovingian Dynasty and mining operations which led to a military edge over their opponents back in Europe.  These Templars apparently left clues all over North America recognizable to those Templars who might

The St. Clairs in the 14th Century

Such documents as the Declaration of Arbroath indicate that the St. Clair family was an important one in Scotland at the time.  As signers, they were one of fifty one of a select group of Scottish leaders.  

These St. Clairs were often called to Norway and England.  Henry Sinclair’s position of Jarl in Norway was considered an important one there.  He was recorded as sending his half brother, David Sinclair, son of Isabella Sparra in Orkney and Shetland, away to England with the following pledge:

“To all who shall see or hear these presents, Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney and Lord of Roslin, safety in the Lord!  I concede to my brother, David Sinclair, for life, because of his claim through our mother Isabella Sparra in Orkney and Shetland, all the lands of Newburgh and Auchdale in Aberdeenshire, to return to me if his heirs fail.” 

Less than fifty years after Henry's death his grandson William commissioned a genealogy of the Sinclair family, full of praise for his ancestors' achievements.  

Did he mention his grandfather's supposed maritime exploits?  He did not.  This story instead seemed to have surfaced much later, with a 16th century Venetian document called the Zeno narrative.  The document was allegedly compiled from letters the navigators to America wrote in 1380 to a relative living back in Venice.

The Earls of Orkney

The Earl of Orkney was originally a Norse jarl ruling Orkney, Shetland, and parts of Caithness and Sutherland.  In 1379 the Earldom of Orkney, without Caithness, was granted by the King of Norway to Henry Sinclair, a son-in-law of the Gaelic mormaer Maol Iosa.  Earl Henry ruled until his death in 1401.  It was said that Earl Henry's little court in Orkney was one of the most elegant and refined in Europe and was adorned with the official services of many Scottish nobles. 

He was succeeded by a son Henry who was followed by his son William to whom the Earldom of Caithness was granted by the King of Scotland in 1455.  However, Orkney and Shetland were then pledged to King James III of Scotland and James took the Earldom of Orkney for the Crown in 1470.  William was thereafter Earl of Caithness alone until he resigned the Earldom in favor of his son in 1476. 

The Sinclair name, however, has continued to be found in Orkney and Shetland.  Laurence Sinclair, for instance, was a burgess at Kirkwall in Orkney in the 16th century.  William Sinclair was born at Estaquoy in Orkney in 1766 but left there at an early age to join the Hudson Bay Company in Canada.  An early account of the Sinclair Orkney connection was Roland William St. Clair's 1898 book The Saint Clairs of The Isles

Sinclair's Ballad

Sinclair's Ballad is a Norwegian song about the massacre of Scots mercenaries hired by the Swedish king in a war with Norway and Denmark.  These Scots landed on the coast at Romsdal in 1612 and were ambushed by Norwegian farmers at Kringen in the Gudbrandsdalen valley. 

Many of them were slaughtered, among them Captain George Sinclair of Stirkoke who led the Caithness Company.  Tradition has it that he was shot by Berdon Segelstad with a bullet melted from a silver button. The place where he fell was marked with a wooden cross.  A commemorative plaque was added in 1733. Zinclar Vise or Sinclair’s Ballad was written by the Norwegian poet Edvard Storm in 1781. 

The ballad (in translation) began as follows: 

“Lord Sinclair crossed the salty sea,
To Norway his course was set;
Among Gudbrand's cliffs he found his grave,
Where a bloody brow awaited.” 

It reached its climax with the following verse: 

“The first shot did Lord Sinclair strike.
He roared and then his spirit yielded;
Each Scot cried out as their leader fell:
God free us from this woe."

William Sinclair and His Irish Estate at Newton Manor Court

William Sinclair of Roslin arrived in Ireland in 1620 and received as a Scottish planter 1,000 acres of pasture and woodland on the lower slopes of the Slieve Bloom mountains in county Offaly.  There Newton Manor Court was built. 

However, it is unlikely that William and his wife and family ever lived there.  Conditions were tough enough in Scotland if you were moderately wealthy, but it would have been much more difficult on the Slieve Bloom mountains which was many hours away from the relative comfort and safety of Dublin.  It is more likely that he employed an agent to build the house and look after the land. 

In fact, whilst he was holding Newton Manor, William settled his family on the townland of Mullamore in another plantation at Ballyloughmaguiffe in county Tyrone. Why he did this is not known, but it could be that he was hedging his bets.  Conditions in Offaly were very unsettled and he may have been looking for greater security for his wife and children.  William was recorded as living at Mullamore and his eldest son George was listed in the Muster Roll of county Tyrone in 1630. 

The Sinclair family had sold Newton Manor Court by that time.  It passed into other hands and has ended up in ruins.  However, recently Peter Sinclair, a descendant of the original owners, has been instrumental in forming the Newton Manor Court Trust to preserve the ruins of this unique plantation house.

Arthur St. Clair's Sad End

Arthur St. Clair was made commander-in-chief of the army in the Northwest Territory in 1791.  He soon moved against the Indians on the Wabash, even though he was so lame from gout that he had to be carried on a litter.  He and his troops marched northwards from Fort Washington (now Cincinnati) in search of them. 

Early one morning, after the troops had slept fitfully after a wearisome march and were preparing for breakfast, they were suddenly attacked by Indians.  The slaughter among the troops was dreadful.  Most of the officers were slain or wounded.  The remaining remnants fled in confusion and it was with great difficulty that St. Clair escaped on a packhorse, having had three horses killed under him.  He had lost nearly half of his army, over 800 men killed and wounded. 

Blamed severely, a committee of Congress nevertheless vindicated St. Clair; but he resigned his commission. He was broken in health, spirits, and fortune, and, retiring to a log-house on the summit of Chestnut Ridge among the Alleghany mountains, he passed away the remainder of his days in poverty.

Early Sinclairs in Nova Scotia

Donald Sinclair, a merchant in Thurso, lost his wife in 1806 and decided to emigrate to the Americas.  He boarded the Long Mhor America a year later in 1807.  The ship was wrecked off the coast of Newfoundland, with the loss of nearly all on board.  But Donald and his two sons survived and they made a new home for themselves at Sherbrooke in Nova Scotia. 

Alexander Sinclair had lived nearby in Scotland at Latheron.  He sailed with his family for America in the spring of 1816, the year after the battle of Waterloo.  He landed in Halifax in June and came in a schooner to Sherbrooke.  He lived there for a few years in a rented farm about half a mile below the foot of Lochaber lake.  About 1820 he removed with his family to the district then known as the Backlands of St. Mary's, but now known as Goshen.

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