Clann Shinclair The Sinclairs
Writing on the centenary of the Battle of Culloden and
the prohibition of the wearing of traditional arms or dress (repealed
in 1782), R.R. McIan (pictures)
and James Logan (text) published
The Clans of the Scottish Highlands:
The Costumes of the Clans.
``It has been been maintained that the Sinclairs are not,
strictly speaking, a Gaelic clan, the surname being originally
son of Comte de Saint Clair, a relative
of the Conqueror, who came over with him in
Scotland soon afterwards, and was progenitor of all the name in
that country. The ancient
Earls of Caithness were, however,
an original race, the first recorded of whom is Dungald, who flourished
in 875, and Sir William Sinclair, of
Roslin, which was the first
possession of those of the name in Scotland, having married a
daughter of the Earl of Strathern and Caithness, by this early
connexion with a Highland district, and holding so high a feudal
position, they have fully acquired all that confers on them the
rights of chiefship.''
James Logan, 1845
George F. Black on the Sinclair Surname
From: "Matheson" <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 14:51:40 -0600
This is what George F. Black
had to say about the Sinclair surname.
Thought his assessment of their "clanship" interesting in light of
recent discussions about origins.
``SINCLAIR. This Caithness
surname is of territorial origin from St.
Clare in the arrondisement of Pont d'Eveque,
Normandy. The first
Sinclairs in Scotland appear to have been vassals of the great
territorial magnates, de Morville. Their first possession in Scotland
was the barony of Roslin,
near Edinburgh, which they held in the reign
of David I (1124-1153). The earliest bearers of the name appear in
charters connected with the abbeys of Dryburgh and Newbattle, the
Hospital of Soltre (now Soutra in Midlothian), the church of Glasgow,
etc. An early offshoot of the family became all powerful in Caithness
and held the earldom there from 1379 to 1542. The frequency of the
surname in Caithness and in the Orkneys
is due to the tenants on the
lands of the earldom adopting the name of their overlord just as we find
tenants who possessed no surnames of their own doing likewise elsewhere.
``The Sinclairs, like the Gordons and some other families, cannot be
called a clan in the true sense of the term. They were a powerful
territorial family, whose relationship to their dependents was entirely
feudal... An old rhyme referring to the bickerings between the
Sinclairs and their neighbors says:
'Sinclair, Sutherland, Keith and Clan Gunn,
There never was peace when thae four were in.'
the name is used as an Englishing of Gaelic Mac na cearda.''
Sinclairs in Scotland
Sinclairs arrived in Scotland after
much history had already transpired,
but just in time for the consolidation of the kingdom of the Scots.
Bannockburn and Arbroath
Sinclairs were prominent in Scottish history.
They became related to the Bruces and the Stewarts.
wars of Scottish independence,
a major event was the
Battle of Rosslyn,
of which the baron was
Henry St. Clair (1275-1336).
This Henry also both fought at
in 1314 in support of
Robert the Bruce.
He signed the
Declaration of Arbroath
of 6 April 1320
from Scottish nobles to the pope
that declared Scottish independence.
His son, William St. Clair
died with Sir James Douglas
fighting the Moors in Spain.
They were attempting to carry the heart of
Bruce to the Holy Land
to bury it there, as they had promised that king on his deathbed.
The Moors honored their bravery by returning both their bodies
and the heart of Bruce; the heart was buried at Melrose Abbey,
where it has recently been
Prince Henry Sinclair
Perhaps the most famous Sinclair was
Lord Chief Justice of Scotland, Admiral of the Seas,
first Sinclair Earl
The New World
Prince Henry voyaged to America in 1398 with a fleet of a dozen ships
and hundreds of men, exploring Labrador, Nova Scotia, and
Massachusetts, where one of his party died and his
is visible to this day.
His grandson, William Sinclair (c1415-1482)
founded Rosslyn Chapel,
which is probably unique in its use of stonework.
Among the numerous engrailed crosses, green men, roses, and religious
figures are clear representations of maize and aloes,
presumably from Prince Henry's voyage.
Templars and Masons
Many Sinclairs were Templars.
This same William Sinclair was
appointed first hereditary Protector and Grandmaster of the
by King James II.
Sinclairs were also involved in the
Battle of Altimarlach
of 1680 which ended the Last Clan War,
which was between the Sinclairs and the Campbells.
Not that that stopped them fighting.
One of George Washington's generals during the American Revolution was
Major General Arthur St. Clair.
Last changed: 00/05/28 14:35:04