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Re: A Gleam of Hope?

Tim, et al.

It's good that people are suddenly taking an interest in timelines.
Paul Sinclair's timeline has been there for years.  It, like mine,
has been linked in from the front page of sinclair.quarterman.org
and its predecessors for years.

It would be even better to remember that almost all the parties involved
are in fact volunteers, who do work in their spare time.  We can hope they
will all update their historical pages and timelines as they have time to
do so, and as they are presented with evidence.

However, it would also be good to turn down the volume and turn up the
content.  Lengthy complaints larded with purple prose about eyes that
can hear howlers don't provide much in the way of information.  If
someone has corrections, it would be most useful to say what they are,
with sources.  And with a citation of where the problem is.  I'm assuming
Paul Sinclair's timeline as referred to is this one:

And I'm pretty sure mine is this one:

However, it's not obvious to me where there is a timeline on the current
Clan Sinclair USA web pages.

Why expect readers to hunt for the web pages being discussed?
It's easy enough to provide a URL.

I've seen a few specific tidbits come through:

 * Sinclairs are not descended from the celibate hermit St. Clare.

 * An extensive search in the National Library of Scotland in January 1998
	by Tim turned up no evidence that the first Sinclair Earl of Orkney 
	died at the battle of Halidon Hill.  Three sources were mentioned
	that said he was 'slain cruelly by his enemies'.  What were those
	sources, and what dates did they give?

 * It seems unlikely that Hugh de Payen married Catherine de St Clair
	just after taking Templar vows of celibacy.

Those three I boiled out of 773 words in a recent message.
There may have been others, but, if so, I didn't see them
due to the low signal to noise ratio.

Ah, yes, there was also this point:

>Learning from all of this it is now obvious that certain of the books that
>have been used as so-called sources are seriously flawed, in error or just
>plain wrong. Thomas Sinclair's work, Morrison's, and Father Hay's must be
>treated with the utmost caution unless backed up by primary documentation.
>'The Sinclairs of the Isles' is little better and my views on Andrew Sinclairs
>are already well known. Yet despite that, and the more important fact that
>chronicles dating from near the time of the Norman settlment of Normandy are
>available; the Battle Abbey Rolls have been around for nearly a thousand years
>and that most of the other important events are testified to in one degree or
>another by documentation or archaelology, nonsensical mythology and fanciful
>imaginings are still being purveyed as history.

Indeed, not all sources are created equal.  Primary sources are to be preferred
to secondary or tertiary sources.  If the latter are all that are available,
they may have to be used as long as their lesser authority is recognized.
Archaeology is not always available, and until it is, we're left with
whatever sources we can find.  See, for example, the recent excavations
at Jamestown, which are clarifying many previous speculations.  Such
speculations may have to be made, but they also need to be labelled,
as Tim has noted, and they have to be discussed.

Anyone who has spent much time working on history in academia or for
book publication probably knows these and other basic guidelines for
writing history.  However, not everyone on this list or who composes
web pages has such experience.  Let's set examples of how to do it.

The first step is to cite sources, which it seems most of the recent
messages have done.  That's a good sign, I think.

>Perhaps now, stimulated John's example, others may follow suit or, even
>better, produce the evidence upon which their assertions are based and I will
>happily eat my words.

Indeed, I will make changes as time permits and as I see changes to make.
Rory has said something similar.

I don't think any of the above three items are in any of my pages or my
timeline, although I could easily be wrong; if I am, somebody please
point to the specific place.

Meanwhile, I have a stack of other changes which I will get to.  Hm,
this message has set me back fifteen minutes or so, so it's unlikely
I'll get to it today.  Besides, this message is now longer than 770
pages. :-)

>Best wishes

John S. Quarterman <jsq@quarterman.org>
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