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Re: Forever Argyll

At 10:46 27/08/99 -0400, you wrote:
Dear Niven;
It seems that you are on another 'exploration' and I am curious to know more about where your thoughts comes from. The Sinclairs of Argyll are a focus for many of us on the list and yours truly. Naturally your hypothesis on the roots in Argyll, prompts my further inquiry.
This week you wrote and I quote;* As mentioned in an earlier contribution to the Sinclair Discussion List, these 'workers in metal' were thought to have been the armorers from the Spanish galley which sank in Tobermory Bay in 1588.  In support of this suggestion the Sinclairs of Argyll are said to be of a darker complexion than their Northern namesakes. Rory responded to you with the following response; The Armada story I have heard in several different contexts from the explanation of deValera to the complexion of the Black Irish.   I would tend to give that explanation a pass.   You then responded as follows; I wonder if we should give it a pass? Of the 18 Scots who escaped being massacred at Kringen, they settled in the area and their descendants are still there!!   The place-names of the farms in the Otta District (where Malcolm and I were the guests of honour recently) are testimony to the proof of their residence.  They are still intensely proud of their Scottish descent although the Scots who accompanied Colonel George Sinclair were themselves of Viking descent.  The wheel had turned full circle. Where would those Spanish sailors, who managed to save themselves, have gone to? Another Spanish galley, the el Gran Grifon, was wrecked off Shetland and the crew saved by the intervention of  Malcolm Sinclair of Quendale.  (Shades of Prince Henry with the Zeno galley?).
What I have found in researching any social history is that we are all pioneers often picking up clues and tid bits from what has gone or been written before, then having to authenticate it. The McNokaird roots are substantiated from original research (with credits to Juli & Karen) and you added to the spelling variations. I have approached a couple of Universities with programs in Gaelic studies to get a scholarly "read" of the derivations of the traslation of Caird etc. in seventeenth century gaelic. Pending some response of the use of language and translations we are also tracing whether "tinkler" pronunciation is an accurate explaination of the origins of the Sinclair naming tradition in Argyll. This depends on the gaelic language and english pronuciations in 1700 which is different from what and how we may use language today. A mystery remains as to the use of the Sinclair name either through reuse or adoption becoming prevelant during the generation living in Argyll cira 1680-1720. We look for the motivation as to why such a change came in social use during a limited time frame. We have discovered that many families including the Campbells used or were given gaelic alias as their naming identity during the 1600's and 1700's with the names becoming more formalized and common with the spread of the Church of Scotland and formal baptisim records which occured in Argyll largely after 1700.
Now the Spanish wreck history is a new story for us all to chase down and until your mention of this none of us had heard of this aspect. Now for the ignorant among us I have little difficulty with Spanish saliors becoming Caerds and somewhat more difficulty with their descendants then becoming instant Sinclairs some generations later. There is a leap of logic that defies a logical academic approach. But where there is mythologies and folklore there are frequently silent fingers pointing to facts and truth somewhere and it is right and proper to chase down a leads if there is any valid theory for so doing even if it is only to verify what is known.
So yes we need your help in sharing what sources you know of for such stories and fill us in on some of the more salient details if known. We can and will exchange with you any and all information that we discover as a result. The goal remains to get the history assimilated and then out to anyone who wants it through the clan associations.
One of the interesting comments you passed on from an unquoted source, was that the skin color may have been different. Curious if true. The Argyll individuals I know are commonly fair skinned and red haired which probably means very little.
We appreciate your insights and as always your cheerful helpfulness.
Yours Aye;
Neil Sinclair
Toronto/PEI/Forever Argyll

Dear Neil,

The Armada source of the Sinclairs of Argyll has been known to me since childhood and, since then, I've seen it mentioned
in books on the origins of Scottish Clans.

Nevertheless, in view of the interest in the "Sinclairs of Argyll", I'll do a bit more digging and, when I come across an authentic
source, I'll get back to you.  The armorers were known as Sancto Claro (St Clair).  The Gaelic caerd would only have come into
usage because of the common custom to describe people by their trade or profession so the armorers became caerds as soon
as they began to ply their trade to (a) make a living in an alien land and (b) to make them more acceptable to the local population
who may not have needed much encouragement to kill 'the enemy' (although, in truth, the Spanish were the enemies of England
rather than of Scotland).

Most correspondents would seem to agree that the Sinclairs of Argyll are usually of a darker complexion.  Your comment
that the ones you know are  fair-skinned with red hair points to 'tinkers' or to the Royal Stewarts who were invariably
carrot-topped.  When the 'tinkers' had to register themselves it was a short jump of transliteration to come up with Sinclair
(especially in the soft brogue of Argyll and the Western Isles).  Tinkers also mended pots and pans so they,too, were caerds.
Similarily, the addition of a soft 'l' in tinker to make it tinkler and then on to Sinclair does not require a great leap of the imagination.
For evidence of this, one has only to look at the many changes in spelling which occurred when immigrants first entered the
United States.

The absorption of people of people of different ethnic background has always been one of the 'fall-outs' of war.  The English are
a mixture of Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Celts, Norse, Romans, Normans etc. etc. and the United States is even a greater hotch-
potch of people who were escaping poverty or persecution in their own lands.

The crew of the Spanish galleon which sank in Tobermoray Bay had to sink or swim.  It wasn't as if the galleon was mid-ocean.
The ship had foundered.  Land was within reach.

Back to you soon.

Niven Sinclair