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Re: Hermanston

At 18:37 08/10/00 -0400, you wrote:
>     Thanks for the location of Herdmanston.  For christenings and marriages,
>would the Hermandston Sinclairs have traveled to Aberlady and Edinburgh, or
>would they have had services there?  Is Haddington also nearby?

Haddington is very close to Hermandston.  As the Sinclairs were the 
Sheriffs of Haddington it is very likely that services would be held there 
although, as I have
already mentioned in an earlier e-mail, they were and are still buried in 
their own
small Chapel of St John where you will find reference to their distinguished
careers as officers in the armed forces and in the diplomatic service.  The
present Lord Sinclair (Murray Sinclair) had a distinguished military 
career.  His son, Mathew, the Master of Sinclair, has chosen a business 
career but took
time off to meet the Sinclair 2000 gathering when they passed through 

This 'forgotten' branch of the family arrived in Scotland quite separately 
from the
Sinclairs of Rosslyn but, in true Sinclair fashion, soon inter-married when 
a Sir
William St Clair of Hermandston married Margaret St Clair of Rosslyn c.1320.
When widowed, this Margaret went on to marry Thomas Stewart, the Earl of
Angus in 1353.  Thomas Stewart was the brother of King David (Stewart) II
Margaret was the aunt of Prince Henry Sinclair.

The Sinclairs of Hermandston received their lands in East Lothian from 
Richard de Morville, the Constable of Scotland, in 1162 for 'certain 
military services'.

In 1677 this branch of the family preferred a claim for the dormant title 
of  "The
Lord Sinclair" which, after an investigation by the House of Lords was granted
to them.  This was the first time the title was held by someone other than a
direct descendant of the Earls of Orkney but, as we have seen they had 
already intermarried into the Rosslyn Branch of the family which held the 
'jarldom' of
Orkney with effect from Prince Henry's installation in 1379 and this cross-
breeding (if I may use so gross a term) was continued when John St Clair of
Hermandston married Katherine Sinclair, Mistress of Sinclair, who was the
only daughter of John Sinclair of Ravenscraig who was the 10th Lord Sinclair
This marriage took place in 1659 thus again uniting the Hermandston's with
a direct lineal descendant - albeit not on the male side.

In Scotland (and possibly elsewhere) the custom of primogeniture i.e. "the
right of the eldest son to succeed to the estate of his ancestor to the
exclusion of all others" has given rise to a great deal of inter-family
squabbling because, with the Sinclairs, for example. where Sinclairs 
married Sinclairs with Pharaonic regularity but failed to leave a male 
heir, it was frequently quite difficult to establish which 'grandson' or 
'grandnephew' held the right to succeed to the title (which did not 
necessarily mean the land which had been allied with the title.  For 
example, the present Sinclairs of Dunbeath never owned Dunbeath).

Frequently, as with Rosslyn, the title went outside the Sinclair family 
the new 'owner' would invariably add "St Clair" to their name as with the 
St Clair Erskines.  There is still a certain cachet to the Sinclair name 
even if there is little cash to go with it - no pun intended!   We are an 
impecunious lo these days.

What has all this to do with Hermandston.  Everything and nothing.  The 
only land (most) present day Sinclairs
possess is the land where they will eventually be buried.

Why is this?  It is with some trepidation that I suggest it is "the fear of 
failure".  We are so fearsome of failing
that we never really try.  We never take the risk which leads to fortune 
(or to ruin) but, as I have survived ruin,
I love the risk and have reversed the trend.  Tomorrow, I may face ruin but 
it doesn't frighten me anymore.
There is always more fear in the heart than there is likely to be injury to 
the flesh.

Niven Sinclair

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