Dear Niven and list cousins;
Indeed human migratory patterns are at best confusing and at worst they are problematic to be sure. When one studies any pattern of settlement, one comes across known roots, then sees exceptions and then sees further more recent roots that become intermeshed. The great minds that drew the anology of family patterns being akin to tree roots had a lot of insight.
But let me highlight some observations that can be derived from your historical research. The Sinclairs from Caithness and elsewhere did migrate across Scotland to where economic conditions allowed. But in your story there was another important illustration of how developed education was in the early 1700's and even before. The traditional image of the Scottish highlands being filled with uneducated heillamen (sp?) is not accurate. Many were educated in two of the formost Universities with reputations across Europe which were located in Glasgow and Edinborough. The 1700-1800 period was an intellectual explosion in Scotland and education a way to advance if it was accessible.
And where one individual goes, others follow and mix with the 'native' population even with some perhaps having the same last name. Then we have coming into Argyll between 1700-1800 literally hundreds or more of individuals, most with last names from elsewhere in Scotland and England not previously identified in Argyllshire. This occured all thoughout 1700-1800 to replace the many others native to Argyll, leaving for America, Australia and the like.
By the end of the 1700's there were many descendants of McNokairds/Sinclairs and descendants of the more recent interlopers under the name "Sinclair" from the cities and likely Caithness and Modlothian and perhaps those other 60 odd locations of Sinclair origin in the UK. It is near impossible to trace behind the early parish records. And in a similar fashion other names became noticeable in the parish registers in Argyll that were not of long standing heritage in the geography. But this is not surprising. One of the clues in the surprise when searching genealogical roots to see the unusual Christian name start coming into the family patters.
Stir the heriditary soup a bit and many Campbells intermarried with Sinclairs and naturally others and Sinclair then merged with all the families with clan names identified with the local geography and elsewhere.
Finally there is another irony which really illustrates how people and individuals connect over geography. As the list is aware native families from Argyll populated two destinations; the Maritimes in what was then the colonies in Canada, and Cape Fear, North Carolina. There are clear patterns of Sinclair settlement that follow both these paths. I strongly believe that some members from the same Sinclair families divided themselves between these two locations. Beief and unquestionable evidence is two separate things.
Now patterns of human connection start forming. By 1700 the individuals in Caithness were aware of Sinclairs in Argyll, and those in Argyll aware of those in Caithness and Midlothian. Similarly Sinclairs in the Maritimes, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Bruswick were aware of the Sinclairs in North Carolina. This is not illogical, and has some circumstantial evidence behind it. As late as the end of the 1800's my ancestors were aware of some connection with both shipping destinations. Taking your history to heart, it seems that at least one Sinclair connected south during his lifetime. Others from North Carolina also came to Ontario. There but for the Grace of God go I, is apt when one sees how their ancestor Sinclairs made choices for various destinations during different historical periods and voila we are born in the strangest of locations as are our children!
Toronto, PEI & Forever Argyll
and might have as easily been;
Washington DC/North Carolina/ and forever Argyll.
PS on my tree branch a have a few Presbyterian Preachers including the head of the Maritime Presbytery way back when, then a few with the Indians, and then oh yes Germany!
C.C. Karen an expert on North Carolina Genealogical patters, Rebecca out historian on Cape Fear, Toni our expert in the Islands and Juli our expert on graves and Sinclairs histories in Argyll.
Thoughts and ideas, and insights welcome of course.