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St. Clair name
The first ancestor of all of us, St. Clairs, Sinclairs, Sinklers, etc. Came
from France. There is debate about just who this person was and whether he
came about 1057 to Scotland or some years later. But the origin is France.
He had Viking blood in him which takes you back to Norway then.
It is probable that later other St. Clairs came from France also.
People just didn't stay put. I was told by a person at our Highland games
that his St. Clairs came from France to Scotland, stayed a generation or so,
then returned to the coast of France. Wish I could find that guy again.
Then eventually they immigrated from France to Canada or USA?
There were some St. Clairs that may have come before 1066 as friends
of King Edward the Confessor and received lands then from him. Niven is
looking through the Domesday books and checking out some of this. Robert de
St. Clair s/o Walderne came with William the Conqueror and received lands in
England. If more came with the Conqueror, their names didn't get recorded
some years later when lists were drawn up. Again Niven is trying to sort
this out. There were many St. Clairs in England but their names changed as
they became associated with various manors and titles.
Example: Our Earl is called Malcolm Caithness not Malcolm Sinclair. His
counterpart, the Earl of Rosslyn whose name would be Peter St. Clair Erskine
but sometimes/all the time? he is called Peter Rosslyn.
So years went by in Scotland with the St. Clairs living at Rosslyn and
elsewhere. When Prince Henry's g. grandson William became Earl of
Caithness, the name of Sinclair became prominent with that area. It is
perfectly possible that some of the St. Clairs that remained around
Edinburgh chose to call themselves Sinclair just to distinguish themselves
from cousins that they might not like (or whatever reason). In the case of
Gen Arthur born in Thurso who descends from an Earl of Caithness we see that
he or one of his ancestors decided to use St. Clair to distinguish
themselves from the Sinclair cousins or had he decided to return to the
The legend that comes down through my family is that my ancestor John
Sinkler/Sinclear-then living in Crawford Co., PA, visited with Arthur who
persuaded him to spell his name "as it was originally spelled". I see in
"The History of the Sinclair Family of Europe and North America", the
author, Morrison, says this conversation took place with one of my John's
cousins instead. I accept that and think the cousin then told my John about
the General's recommendation. Then the family did switch over to the St.
NOTE: even though Arthur spelled the name as St. Clair, he still pronounced
it as "Sinkler" which is the way Sinclair sounds in Scotland. Whereas our
family and extended family pronounced it as St. Clair.
Now it is certainly possible that when the English began encouraging
settlement on land they had seized in Ireland, there were St. Clairs among
the settlers from both southern Scotland and England. St. Clair, as far
as I know, does not have any origins in Ireland. They were just passing
So you see this name business is complex. It just bothered me that General
Arthur should be called Arthur Sinclair when it is spelled St. Clair in all
the history books, all the rivers, lakes, towns, counties, townships that so
honored him, plus he is Arthur St. Clair on the list of pre-presidents of
USA and as 1st Gov. of NW territory.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Adrian Sinclair Balch" <email@example.com>
Sent: Saturday, March 30, 2002 4:44 AM
Subject: Recollections from my youth
> Question, please...
> Years ago, a member of family told me that SINCLAIRs are Scottish and
> St.CLAIRs are Irish. I just recalled this and wonder if there is ANY
[ Excess quotations omitted. ]
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