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And more about Major General Sir Arthur St Clair
Major General Sir Arthur St Clair is descended from the Sinclairs of
Assery who are,
in turn, descended from the Sinclairs of Murkle who were one of the
branches of the
family which held the Earldom of Caithness.
The first Sinclair of Assery was John, the son of James Sinclair of
Murkle. This John
was granted the lands of Assery by William, Lord Berriedale, in a Charter
John had three children by his first wife (whose name I have ben unable
his successor, at Assery
who became a Lieutenant Colonel in the army.
who married David Henderson
By his second wife, Margaret, he had:
first of the Lybster branch
of Forsie who married Jean Sinclair of Dun
who married a Donald Gunn
who married a John Doull
who married Arthur Forbes, a merchant in Edinburgh.
who married George Munro, Sheriff-clerk in Caithness
James Sinclair, see above) the Second of Assery married (1) Elizabeth
Balfour and (2)
Munro, the daughter of David Munro, Commissary of
By his first wife, he had:
his successor at Assery
of Ulgrimbeg who married Bess Craigie
merchant in Thurso.
This James had several sons:
who graduated an M.A. in Edinburgh in 1705 who became
Minister at Longformacus (another Sinclair stronghold)
who followed his father as a merchant in Thurso.
notary public in Thurso, who married Jean Sinclair,
daughter of James Sinclair of Wester Brims.
his eldest daughter, married Alexander Gibson, the Dean of
This William* was the father of:
General Sir Arthur St Clair
Between 1619 and 1772, I found no fewer than nine occasions
when the Sinclairs of Assery
married into other branches of the Sinclair family. This
inter-marriage was not confined to
the Assery branch. It was a regular pattern in Caithness where the
various branches are so
inextricably interwoven with eachother.
There was a similar alliance in the South when Sir William St Clair of
Margaret St Clair of Rosslyn. On his death, Margaret went on to
marry Thomas, the Earl of
Angus and brother to King David II of Scotland.
It may puzzle people why a member of the Royal family should wish to
marry the widow of
one of their subjects but it serves to illustrate the high position the
St Clairs held. The same
happened when Emma St Clair, the wife of Ethelred 'the Unready', went on
to marry Knut 'the
Great'* - a man who could have had any nubile female of his choice.
*Knut, better known as Canute. who, when his courtiers, were telling him
how great he was, told
them to carry him down to the beach in his chair. He ordered
the waves to go back but
the tide kept remorselessly advancing until the water was lapping
at his feet at which point
he turned to his flunkeys and said: "Now you know who
is great. Let us have no more of your
In that one remark, there may be a salutary lesson for us all.
Humility is the hallmark
of the truly great.