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Re: Forever Argyll
At 10:46 27/08/99 -0400, you wrote:
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
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
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
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
source, I'll get back to you. The armorers were known as Sancto
Claro (St Clair). The Gaelic caerd would only have
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
For evidence of this, one has only to look at the many changes in
spelling which occurred when immigrants first entered the
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
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.
- Forever Argyll
- From: "Neil Sinclair/Peggy Rintoul" <firstname.lastname@example.org>