[Clan Sinclair]
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Sinclair Earls of Orkney (1379-1471)

Date: Fri, 27 Aug 1999 03:57:06 EDT

Henry de St Clair from a family of Norman origin was granted land in Lothian in 1162. A descendent Henry Sinclair (d.. circa. 1400) the Earldom of Orkney passed in 1379. The Norse line of Earls extinguished itself with no male heir and immediately before the Earldom passed within various Norse distaff hands. Henry was followed as Norway premier Earl by his son Henry (d. 1418) who was also Admiral of Scotland. Henry sailed with James I of Scotland, not to be confused with James I of England (VI of Scotland). He was captured by the English, both the king and Henry. Henry's son William (1404-1480) was also Admiral of Scotland and the last Sinclair Earl of Orkney. The Earldom was reclaimed by the Crown in 1471, conveyed to James' 11 year old daughter Margaret of Scotland to France for her marriage to the Dauphin (Crown Prince of the French). The Crown rents of Norway were pledged to James III of Scotland as a dowery for his marriage to Margaret of Denmark-Norway. It is this James who pried the Earldom away from Sinclair hands. Ample compensation was received by the Sinclair Earls of Caithness, a title that continues to this day and resides in the most noble Earl Malcolm Sinclair of Caithness.

The circle has been unbroken from Norse pirates to Norse Earls. From Viking raiders to Norman nobles from companions of the Conqueror to defenders of the marches the name Sinclair has withstood the ravages of time with pride. What a name to have the privilege to bear.
Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 12:27:15 +0100

Henry de Saint Clair was granted lands in Lothian in 1162. The confusion arises because of the grant to William the Seemly. William was made First Baron of Roselyn. The grant to Henry is an entirely seperate grant.

(C) Collins Encylopedia of Scotland ed John and Julia Keay. 1994 Hammersmith.

It is not inconsistent that Henry should be granted lands later than William. No one doubts or implies that William was granted the Barony of Roselyn earlier. Henry de Saint Clair appears to be a descendant of William. The grant of land in Lothian was by Malcolm IV, great grandson of Canmore. This grant was confirmed by William I "The Lion". Henry de Saint Clair is from this line; He obtained the title "Earl of Orkney" from the Norse King.

The relative insecurity and instability of dynastic politics are based upon the unpredictable consequences of procreation of male heirs, marriage alliances and usurpations. The impersonal Crown survived dynastic fortunes. The grant of the Crown rent drew from the Viking tradition of ownership of land in common. The Earldom of Caithness was not granted by the Scots King Robert II to Henry de Saint Clair. The two Earldoms lay within the scope of different Monarchs- Norway and Scotland; Orkney was Norse and Caithness was Scots.

(C) Oxford History of Medieval Europe. Ed George Holmes. New York 1988.

Also A Travellers History of Scotland Windrush Press. Gloucestershire 1990.

In 1468/9 Scotland acquired both Orkney and Shetland from Norway. The King, James III, was still in his minority. Scotland faced a 100 years of underaged Kings.

(C) A History of Medieval Europe R.H.C. Davis. 2nd Ed. Addison Wesley Longman Harlow 1970.

I find the comments concerning the Helsianic League and their Bank very interesting. The Hansa and Bundesbank link is tenuous at best. However the concept that runs through European history is very interesting. The current view of our Scots born power mad Prime Minister ("call me Tony and that is an order") is to rush us into this dangerous alliance with the French and Germans must be resisted at any cost. We are British not Europeans. Our ties to Europe are strong and firm as long as we remain independant.

I had earlier posted the following comment that I had found in a French publication:

``France's history is now part of the history of a Europe that ever since the end Second World War has tried to impose its unity in the face of the United States and the URSS who had developed into superpowers. This desire for unity first found an economic, then a political, expression (Creation of the European Parliament), and this desire was reaffirmed by the Maastricht agreement in December 1991. Following the reunification of Germany and the collapse of the Eastern bloc, the european community faces the need to expand. This will make it possible for it to assert itself, at the dawn of the 3rd millenium, in its dealings with Japan — now becoming a world's economic power — and with the United States, which, since the Gulf War, has reaffirmed its political supremacy on the international scene.''

The Kings of France Ten centuries of art and history in Europe (Paris 1988 Editions Les Reperes de Temps)



From: Niven Sinclair <>
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 14:18:11 +0100

Rosslyn was given to William 'the Seemly' by Malcolm III who reigned from 1056 to 1093 so the date 1162 is one hundred years out. I believe the confusion arises because of the later arrival of the Sinclairs of Hermandston. William 'the Seemly' arrived with the Saxon Princess, Margaret, who married Malcolm Canmore by whom she had several children. I believe she arrived in 1057 (certainly before the Norman Conquest) whereas Laurel tends to go for a decade later. Be that as it may, the 1162 date is widely and wildly out.

[Orkney flag] The Sinclairs were not 'amply' recompensed for their loss of the 'jarldom' of Orkney. They were given the Castle of Ravenscraig and land around Dysart in Fife which was a paltry consideration. Behottiere may be thinking that the granting of the Earldom of Caithness (28th August 1455) was part of [Ship of Caithness] that compensation but Caithness was given in lieu of the loss of the Lordship of Nithsdale (which had been a bone of contention between the Douglasses and the Sinclairs for some time). In any event, I have never understood [Arms of Prince Henry Sinclair as Earl of Orkney] why the Caithness earldom was not granted to Henry Sinclair when he received the Orcadian 'jarldom' in 1379. He had the hereditary right to that County through his maternal grandfather, Malise II who had no male heirs.

James III did not acquire the 'rentals' of Orkney in lieu of a dowry for [Norway] Princess Margaret, the daughter of King Christian of Norway, Denmark and Sweden. He acquired the sovereignty of the [Shetland flag] islands. Orkney was deemed to be worth 50,000 florins, Shetland 8,000 florins whilst the balance of 2,000 florins was paid in cash. However, as the sovereignty of the islands did not give the King the control of the lands of the 'jarldom' it was imperative (if he was going to be able to oust the Sinclairs from power) that they secure the lands belonging to the Earldom. This he did by giving the Sinclairs the lands in Fife. However, Earl William foresaw the King's likely stratagem and he began buying up the 'udal' i.e. freehold land belonging to the islanders and, by the time James III took control, Earl William had acquired one third of the total freehold land in Orkney and Shetland. (This is covered in an excellent article by Dr Barbara Crawford of St Andrews University which is called "The Art of Political Survival"). The Sinclairs had no intention of abandoning the islands which they believed (to quote a letter from Lord Henry Sinclair to King John of Denmark on 12th July, 1507) had been 'alienated heritably to my progenitors even before the birth of Christ'.

We still believe that the islands should be within the Sinclair fold — albeit, as Behottiere points out, they were with us long before we ever acquired the name of Sinclair which is only a thousand years old.

This loss of the 'jarldom' of Orkney was a tremendous blow . It was administered by a King of Scotland (a Stewart) who had been brought up by the Sinclairs. Such, as I have pointed out in earlier communications, is filial gratitude. The Stewarts, who owed so much to the loyalty of the Sinclairs, were not content with Earl William Sinclair's loss of the 'jarldom' of Orkney. They also required him to divide up his vast Estates into three as they never again wanted so much power to be with one person. It was a question of dividing and ruling. (His Estates were divided between

  1. William by his first Douglas wife,
  2. William by his second Sutherland wife, and
  3. Oliver who inherited Rosslyn).

* the Union which had united the three Scandinavian countries under Queen Margrette in 1397.
It should also be remembered that at the breakup of the Kalmar Union*, Earl William Sinclair was one of the three contenders for the throne of [Norway] Norway. The others were Karl Knutsson Bonde from Sweden and King Christian of Denmark. Although the people's choice was Earl William Sinclair, the Hansa (that powerful league of German merchants) backed King Christian whose daughter, as we have seen above, was to marry James III of Scotland and thereby indirectly deprive the Sinclairs of the 'jarldom' of Orkney and, at the same time, the throne of Norway.

Once more we see "the Hidden Hand of History" at work.

It is my belief that the Hansa arranged for the murder of Henry Sinclair; the murder of Richard II of England and the execution of Wichmann, the North Sea pirate who had been such a thorn in their flesh. Above all, they feared the consquences of Prince Henry Sinclair's voyage to the New World in 1398.

Sinclair power had to be eliminated at all costs.

This is a period of history which has never been properly understood because no-one has grasped the political and economic forces which were at play in 14th and 15th Century Europe any more than they have grasped the present day power-play going on in the last days of 20th Century Europe!! History is repeating itself — only, on this occasion, the Sinclairs, alas, are no longer in the picture. If we were, wiser counsels might prevail. We might have the wisdom to learn from the lessons of history and to know that one's enemy is often the one who breaks bread with you e.g. the Stewart Kings. The Stewart Kings have gone but the Hansa remains. The Hansa now trade as the Bundesbank which organisation will not be content until Frankfurt supersedes London as the financial Capital of Europe when, although we might be calculating in Euros, we will all be thinking in marks.

Our conversion (and our submission) will be complete.

Neuman von Sinkler

Last changed: 99/11/21 14:40:02 [Clan Sinclair]