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Re: David SINCLAIR 1812-1891 & the Earldom of Caithness

Dear Peter,
    I have found this old message of April 7, 1999 perhaps too early to have
gotten into the archives of this discussion list.  I think it concerns the
time period you are addressing?:

>From John/Alexander/James    sinclairs@home.com
 "The Earldom of Caithness was in dispute at that time.  Reference 'The
Sinclairs of Scotland' author: Thomas Sinclair (M.A., Edinb) who had an
article in the "Highland Monthly" autumn of 1889.  In this article he
maintained that David Sinclair (brother of the 8th Earl of Caithness) of
Broynach's marriage to Janet Ewing was valid though irregular; and that
therefore his grandson, Captain James Sinclair, H.E.I.C.S. should have got
the Earldom when the 9th Earl died, whereas the title was awarded to a scion
of the Rattar section of the Sinclairs....

Mr. Thomas Sinclair, writing to the Aberdeen "Weekly Free Press', under date
23rd April 1898, says:--
 ' Captain James Sinclair could not prove Hon. David's marriage to Janet
Ewing, his grandmother, and William of Rattar gained his point by therefore
falsely attributing illegitimacy to him.  In 1786 Captain James returned
wealthy from India, and discovered ecclesiastical evidence of his
grandmother's marriage in the Caithness records. He immediately began action
before the Court of Session to recover his undoubted rights, but died
prematurely and unexpectedly in London, on 11th January 1788, on the point
of gaining title.  His uncle, Donald Sinclair's son William, baron-tacksman
of Islaud, was the next heir; but he was then a fugitive in Rothes for
manslaughter.  He would, nevertheless, have put in his claim, because the
accident, rather than offence, of 1760 was in self-defense and hot blood,
but he also died in December 1788, and his eldest son, John, did nothing,
dying at 40 in 1798.  His younger brother ultimately, in 1829, became the
'dejure' Earl of Caithness, James Sinclair, Muirends Farm, Black Isle,
Ross-shire father of John, his successor there.  The Rev. John Sinclair, M.
A., B.D. (Aberd.), Finloch-Rannoch Manse, Perthshire, is the eldest son of
this John; and genealogists are satisfied that he is the right and only Earl
of Caithness, as against the Aberdeen bank agent's eldest son in particular,
the American fruit {He was a dairyman or did he raise fruit also? Laurel)
farmer of Dakota, U.S.A."....
Thought you'd be interested in the above which I had acquired from an issue
of Scottish Notes and Queries, Vol XI dated June, 1898, page 189.
John Sinclair"
==============End of this message
Then there was a message from Ian G. Sinclair or this message could have
come before the above message?

"Assuming that the Clan chief is the Earl of Caithness, then the chief in
1776 was William III of Rattar, Earl from 1775 to 1779
His sons were:
John, William, James, Alexander & David
John succeeded to the title.
James, Alexander & David died young and single.
His daughters were:
Isabella & James
This extracted from 'Those Saint Clairs of the Isles'
Ian Sinclair"
It was this John then who was wounded by a musket-ball in the groin while
reconnoitering with Gen. Henry Clinton at the siege of Charlestown, VA 1780
during the American Revolution. d. 8 Apr. 1789 London  Unmarried   (his name
heads the list of Rev. war veterans on in the History section of

----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Dillon <Peterd@hagley.school.nz>
To: 'sinclair@mids.org' <sinclair@matrix.net>
Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2000 1:01 AM
Subject: David SINCLAIR 1812-1891 & the Earldom of Caithness

> Hi everyone
> I've just rejoined the list after a very short spell on it with little
> activity from me well over a year ago (I was a lurker).
> I'd love to hear more about the following in any way:
> My gg-grandfather David SINCLAIR 1812-1891 was baptised 1812 at Hempriggs
> Wick parish to John SINCLAIR and Barbara CORMACK.  Barbara was from Watten
> parish.  John & Barbara had a large family, most of their children being
> born at Sarclet, Thrumster and, later, at Reiss.  John was one of at least
> issue to James SINCLAIR and Elspet SINCLAIR.   Elspet was from Clyth?
> David attempted to claim, unsuccessfully, the title of Earl of Caithness
> when it was up for grabs circa 1890-91.   Affidavits by him, his older
> brother Alexander and other family members were published in the 'Northern
> Ensign', a newspaper circulating at that time.  I don't know the date of
> issue but I have seen a photocopy of an old clipping from it.  It seems
> the affidavits were presented in a court case in England.
> In the affidavits David et al state that his grandfather was James
> 'the chamberlain', son of Donald SINCLAIR 'the sailor' who had his own
> and traded up and down the Caithness coast as far as Ross-shire.  Donald
> supposed to be a descendant of Broynach.  James was a chamberlain at
> Hempriggs, then a fish curer and salt maker at Sarclet, the salt being
> traded by Donald via his vessel.  David outlines the issue of Donald and
> later generations in some detail and states that he never heard of a
> the 'tacksman' born to Donald, and if there was a William then he must
> been illegitimate.
> John HENDERSON, in his posthumous work published 1884, states that Donald,
> who 'went to sea' and was the son of David SINCLAIR of Broynach, had a son
> William and several daughters.
> Roland ST CLAIR, in his work published 1898, outlines a completely
> set of issue to this latter Donald, and asserts that Donald the son of
> of Broynach and Donald 'the sailor' were the same person.  The set of
> outlined by Roland ST CLAIR is almost identical to that given by my
> gg-grandfather David for his ancestor Donald 'the sailor', except for a
> younger daughter - and it may be simply a case of name alternatives there.
> Wick parish records support my David's version of the children to Donald.
> I know that there were other claimants after the title.  It is possible
> Roland St Clair's data came via David et al's affidavits etc or similar,
> because Roland St Clair certainly lists Henderson as one of his sources.
> The various versions of the "true" heirs to the earldom at the time I
> depended on whose barrow was being pushed.
> I learned from a Sinclair relative that one of my mother's old aunts used
> tell a story that we were descended from the Earls of Caithness, and that
> was an impoverished earldom, but I don't know that later rellies placed
> credence in this story.  A couple of years ago the old newspaper clipping
> came to light and suddenly our genealogy research has become a lot more
> exciting!
> Whether or not my gg-grandfather David had a legitimate claim to the title
> is another ball game,  and I am content merely to accept that he was
> descended from the earls, whatever the status of his claim to the earldom.
> The Broynach's missed out on the title in the 1760s because they could not
> prove a legitimate heir male , and were passed over in favour of Rattar.
> Presumably my gg-grandfather David's feelings that his ancestors were
> diddled out of the title stems from what happened in the 1760s.  By the
> 1890s my gg-grandfather was not even able to state for sure the connection
> between Donald 'the sailor' and David of Broynach; all he knew was that
> there was a connection.
> He married 1846 Catherine SINCLAIR, daughter of Peter SINCLAIR, a
> at Forss.  There is a gravestone in St Mary's Chapel on the coast at Forss
> for a Peter SINCLAIR, blacksmith of Forss.   In his affidavit David states
> that Peter was the son of William SINCLAIR of Freswick, but so far I have
> not been able to find evidence to support this assertion.  HENDERSON does
> not list a Peter born to the relevant William SINCLAIR of Freswick and I
> haven't seen one in parish records.  The Freswick SINCLAIRs were descended
> from the Earls of Caithness.
> David & Catherine SINCLAIR had a couple of children at Bilbster in Wick
> parish, including my great grandfather Peter SINCLAIR, and then went to
> Victoria, Australia where they had 5 further issue.  David did well for
> himself farming first at Barrabool near Geelong and then the Bellarine
> peninsula.  He reared cattle.  David's brothers Alexander (no issue), John
> (issue), and James (no issue) also went to Victoria.
> Three of David & Catherine SINCLAIR's issue went to New Zealand, two of
> have descendants, which is why I am a kiwi.  Of the issue who stayed in
> Victoria, only one had issue, Isabella who married John Allen.
> Regards to all
> Peter Sinclair DILLON
> Christchurch
> South Island
> New Zealand
> David SINCLAIR of Broynach
>    |
> Donald SINCLAIR the sailor
>    |
>    |
> John SINCLAIR=Barbara CORMACK  (parents Alexander CORMACK & Isobel CALDER)
>    |
> David SINCLAIR=Catherine SINCLAIR (parents Peter SINCLAIR & Catherine
>    |
>    |
>    |
>    |
> Peter Sinclair DILLON
> [ This is the Sinclair family discussion list, sinclair@mids.org
> [ To get off or on the list, see http://www.mids.org/sinclair/list.html

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