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The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment)

Yesterday evening our Clan Chief, the Rt Hon Malcolm Sinclair, the Earl of
Caithness was our guest at a cocktail party of The Royal Scots (The Royal
Regiment) hosted by Lord Swinfen at the House of Lords.  It was a glorious
summer evening in the heart of the capital and everyone was in good
spirits.  The Royal Scots are the oldest regiment of infantry  in the
British Army. formally raised for service in Sweden in 1633 and after with
Scotland's old ally, France, and are the 1st Regiment of Foot.  Their
nickname is "Pontius Pilate's Bodyguard", for, in the 17th Century, in
French service, they once found themselves alongside the French Regiment of
Picardy, who asserted they were the older regiment, having been on guard at
the Crucifixion.  The Royals claimed they were there too, as bodyguards to
the Governor!  While the Regiment of Caithness was the Seaforths (with whom
Niven Sinclair served), now amalgamated with the Cameron Highlanders and
the Gordon Highlanders as The Highlanders, many Sinclairs have served with
The Royal Scots throughout a glorious history.  Malcolm Caithness was
therefore at the party in two rights of his own, not only as a member of
the House, but representing his family's strong connections with the
Regiment.  The following is an account of the most famous Sinclair of the
Royals, a Colonel of the Regiment in the 18th Century compiled by Captain
Sutherland of the Regiment's Headquarters in Edinburgh Castle:


Colonel of the Regiment  1737-1762

He is often called "Lord Sinclair", but this title though he possessed it
de jure was never assumed by him.  He was the second son of Henry St.
Clair, 10th Lord Sinclair, and brother of John, Master of Sinclair who had
been attainted for his share in the rising of 1715.   Born in 1688,
he entered the army when only a child, and was an Ensign in The Royal
Regiment, 22nd May, 1694.   He served in the regiment as a Captain at
Malplaquet, having been promoted to that rank on 2nd November, 1708.   He
was on half-pay in 1713, and exchanged in to the 3rd Foot Guards, in which
he was Major in 1725, though Brevet-Colonel in the army, 1722.   ("Scots
Peerage", vii. 588).   He held the Lieut. Governorship of Berwick in 1733.
In October, 1734, King George II. appointed him Colonel of the 22nd Foot,
on the 27th June, 1737, he became Colonel of The Royal Regiment, which he
commanded until his death.   He obtained the rank of Brigadier-General, 2nd
July, 1739, and of Major-General August, 1741.   He became
Quarter-master-General of the British Forces in Flanders, 1745, under the
Duke of Cumberland and Lieut. -General, 4th June 1745.  He commanded the
regiment (known as St. Clair's) at the Battle of Culloden on the 16th April
, 1746, though the regiment took its traditional position as the senior
regiment, on the right of the line, and did not receive the highland charge
that came at the end of the battle, which hit the left of the Government
line, ending in victory for the Government over the Jacobite forces of the
Young Pretender, Prince Charles Edward Stuart.  Ironically the Clan
Sinclair, remote in Caithness, had only just declared for the Jacobites and
on learning of the defeat went quietly home.  Such family divisions were a
feature of the Jacobite Risings, and the battles of the '15 and '45 saw
Scots on both sides, and were not, as is often believed, English-Scots
conflicts.  He was Commander-in-Chief of a force that, originally embarked
to attack Quebec, landed at Port L'Orient in Brittany, and eventually
destroyed the forts of Quiberon, 4th-l7th October, 1746.   In 1748, he
attended the combined Hungarian and Sardinian Armies, in Italy, as
representative of the British Government. On 10th March, 1761, he was
gazetted General in the Army.   He was employed later on an Embassy to the
Courts of Vienna and Turin, during which time, as during his French
Expedition, David Hume, the historian was his Secretary. On the death
(issueless) of his elder brother the attained Master of Sinclair in 1750 he
became entitled to that peerage, but he never assumed the title, preferring
to remain a member of the House of Commons.   He was M.P. for Dysart
Burghs, 1722-34; for Sutherlandshire, 1736-7; for Dysart Burghs, 1747-54,
and for Fifeshire, 1754-61, 1761-63.   He was also at one period Governor
of Cork.   (Foster's "Members of Parliament, Scotland", p.315). In 1735, he
purchased the estates of Rosslyn Castle, Ravenscraig, and Dysart, and
entailed them, failing his own issue, on the heirs male of his sisters.  
He married Janet, widow of Sir John Baird of Newbyth.   Baronet, and
youngest daughter of the Hon. Sir David Dalrymple of Hailes, but by her,
who survived him and died 8th January, 1766, had no issue.   He himself
died at Dysart, aged seventy four, 30th November, 1762.  He was succeeded
in the Colonelcy by his nephew.

The Regiment's recruiting area is in Edinburgh and the Lothians (including
Rosslyn), but the officers come from all over Scotland and include those of
Scots descent and sympathy from throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. 
The Regiment still needs its Sinclairs!

Yours aye

Iain Laird

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