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Re:Argyll Sinclairs (MacNokairds?)

From: "Toni Sinclair" <>
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 2002 23:25:06 -0500

Hi Kozy, other Argyllshire descendants, and the rest of you who are interested in various Sinclair histories!

A couple of years ago, Karen Matheson wrote a very scholarly piece about the probability of Sinclairs of Argyll going by the name of "MacNokaird" prior to the early 1700s. (I believe you can still find it on the Clan Sinclair USA website). Following my previous letter to this list regarding the Sinclair/McNokaird issue in Argyllshire, I've been progressing by leaps and bounds in my efforts to establish the Sinclair history on the Isle of Islay pre 1750. As I said before, I finally got my hot little hands on the 1990 magazine article about Archibald Sinclair, Gaelic Printer of the Celtic Press in Glasgow, (born in Islay) which mentioned a "Gilleasbuig Mac-na-Ceardadh". There are various spellings of the surname, so I felt quite confident that this would be a variation of MacNokaird. However, "Gilleasbuig" was beyond my interpretive skills. I finally got an answer from a fluent Gaelic speaker who said this was without any doubt "Archibald MacNokaird" aka "Archibald Sinclair". BINGO! He also directed me to a professor at Edinburgh University who was researching the (radical?) Gaelic movement in Glasgow in the 1800s.

Archibald Sinclair Professor Meek was well acquainted with the Sinclairs of the Celtic Press, who printed many Gaelic literary works of the time. He also told me that both Archibald Sr. and Jr. Sinclair often used their Gaelic names in their publications. If any of you are personally interested, I can send photos of Archibald's gravestone inscription (one side in English and the reverse side in Gaelic, using both the English and Gaelic name).

I can't tell you how happy I am to be able to confirm Karen's research, and also to be able to prove that the Sinclairs of Islay were not "incomers" with the new owners, the Campbells of Shawfield, but that they were long-standing residents of the Island. The earliest Islay document I have which mentions a MacNokaird, is dated 1546.

So, yes, Kozy, it would be interesting to finally see if there is a genetic link between the Sinclairs of Caithness and those of Argyllshire, who perhaps just used the Gaelic form of the name. I wonder if I can convince my husband (the Real Sinclair of this family) to be tested.

(By the way, he's O+, just like our son. Our daughter is A-, like me. In every other way she is like a Sinclair!)

RE: Argyll Sinclairs (MacNokairds)

From: "Neil Sinclair" <>
Date: Fri, 15 Nov 2002 11:12:50 -0500

Dear Toni and all;

Greetings and salutations.

I want to underline and add to the importance of the discovery of Toni to the mysteries of the Argyll Sinclair's. For those of you with this heritage, in a nutshell before 1720-and 1745 or so throughout Argyle the Gaelic name McNokaird was used under a number of spellings as the Gael surname for a number of families. Those on this list with people authoritative in the use of the Gaelic language, Nokaird, nocaird, caird and such words are of keen interest especially with the use within the Gaeklic language as applied in the 1700's. The mystery and indeed it is as of this date, is a name change over geography, distance and time in Argyll where families changed their name from McNocaird to Sinclair. The name McNocaird disappeared totally. The name Sinclair was then used exclusively.

What Toni has discovered is a writer and publisher who used both names in his publications, which is the first documentary evidence between this change of name. I use the word change with caution however, as it could also be an adaptive language change. Special accolades have to be shared with Toni and Karen who have done so much analytical research on this topic. Salutes to Toni, Karen, Juli and Rebecca all of whom advances so light onto one of the true Sinclair mysteries.

Neil, Toronto/PEI/forever Argyll

Last changed: $Date: 2002/11/26 01:28:08 $ [Clan Sinclair]