The Death of St. Clair
From: Niven Sinclair <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 06 Jun 1999 20:01:00 +0100
I am forwarding the story of Clair's death (later St Clare or Clair) to
John Quarterman who may wish to include parts of it on a web page.
Briefly, Clair was born in Kent in England of a noble family and,
naturally, his father wished him to marry a rich heiress who lived close by.
She, being aware of Clair's
austere and celibate life, used all her feminine charms to try to seduce the
young man. She failed miserably. Being rich and accustomed to getting her
own way, her love turned to hatred.
She swore to revenge herself on this hapless young man.
Clair's only hope in escaping the murderous intentions of this female was
to seek refuge on the Continent. He landed in Neustria (now known as
Normandy) where he lived as a hermit.
His fame as a healer began to atttract attention and, although he moved
his hut from place
to place within the forest, it became the focus of attention for people
Clair's abrupt departure from England further inflamed the rich heiress
who sent her agents
to France with instrctions to find and kill him.
On the 4th November, in the year of our Lord 884, they found Clair in his
simple hut on the edge of the River Epte.
His end was swift because one of the agents beheaded Clair whilst
he knelt in prayer. (That is why he is frequently depicted, like St Denis,
holding his head in his hands.) The blood flowed copiously from his neck
but a new spring came out of the ground and washed away all signes of it.
The manner of Clair's death increased his renown. The simple hut was
transformed into a
Chapel and eventually a Church was built on the spot.
Ten years after the murder enough
houses were built at the spot to establish a village which was named, St
Clair, after the martyr.
Another of your correspondents quite rightly points out that St
Clair-sur-Epte is situated on the left bank of the River Epte and was part
of the Isle-de-France which belonged to the
Chaumont-Quitry family with whom the St Clairs were inter-related.
There has always been some 'confusion' as to which of the many places
called St Clair or St Clare in France, the St Clairs took their name from.
You have a wide choice but the distinct
branches of the family emanated from St Clair-sur-Epte, St Clair-sur-Lo and
St Clair d'Eveque.
I will give a list of the St Clairs of France when I can find that
particular file amongst the numerous files in my possession.
In 1994 I sent a research team to France to trace the
St Clairs there and the families with whom they were or became
inter-related such as the
Chaumonts, Gisors, d'Evreux, de Bar, de Courcy, Plantard, Blois etc.
St Clairs were the Earls of Senlis and Corbeil and protected Paris from the
North which is why that City has the St Clair engrailed cross in its
The Hermit Saint Clair
The name Sinclair comes indirectly from
the hermit St. Clare or St. Clere, or St. Clair, or in Latin,
He lived near the town that is now called St. Clair sur l'Epte,
and is northwest of Paris in France, on the edge of what
is now called
feast day is 16 July.
In 1999 an emissary of the Sinclair family attended
St. Clair's feast in the town of St. Clair sur l'Epte.
There were nine saints in all at different times and places named
(Our namesake St. Clair is not to be confused with
or Sainte Claire in French.
She was the founder of the Poor Clares, a monastic order associated with the
Franciscans of St. Francis of Assisi.
She is the namesake of Santa Clara, California, just as Francis is the
namesake of San Francisco, California, where Spanish missionaries
left their names.)
Reports from St. Clair-sur-Epte
The Correct Date, 884
Date:Sat, 5 Jun 1999 15:18:23 EDT
I have just returned from
St Clair sur Epte.
I met with the mayor; he opened
both the shrine and church to me.
He explained that the 834 date was a
result of a mason's incomplete work. (The church is being restored.)
The correct date is 884.
He showed me the 1000 year mark:
St Clair was born in 845
and decapitated in 884. His pupil lived with him Saint Cyrin.
He also showed me
the 912 date for Rollo
it is his date of
Baptism in Rouen.
Photos will come
from England and much more.
St Clair was an Englishman who landed in France at Cherbourg.
There are at least five towns named for him.
Date: Sat, 5 Jun 1999 15:38:52 EDT
The mayors name is Destouches, Perres; the first name follows the surname in
the French manner.
He has met one other Sinclair, a family from the United
The feast of St Clair the spelling is Clair is the 16th of
His bones which rest in the church are carried througt the streets on
It is an honour to be one of the four men who carry the bones; the
mayor has invited me.
The date of Saint Clair's death is 4th November 884;
please excuse my earlier error.
The stained glass window bearing the date 912
(Rollos Baptism) was erected by the towns people for the end of WW I.
St Clair was born near London.
Rebuilding and Restoration
Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 21:04:20 +0100
The information that none of us could have the blood from the celibate Saint
make me wonder who we are descended from?
The Mayor seems to be ofey with the name William de St Clair; any infomation?
If any of us wanted to contribute to the rebuilding and restoration of the
Medieval reconstruction of this
church, the Mayor says
a plaque would be erected to the contributors and our Clan.
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 1999 07:38:07 +0100
I have no idea where this quote is from. As a a lad I learned this
from my Mother, God rest her soul, some fifty odd years ago. She called
storie/poems "Tales of the Lion in the North."
As close as memory serves me:
"My mothers broken Heart
My mother told on a winters eve of Sinclair deeds victorous.
She claimed that we served Malcom Canmore as he booted the Kingdom in to
unity until Sinclair came to stand as large as the King himself. It is
only my mothers tale that I have never seen documented nor have I ever
found the quote reference for the fragment above.
Now my severed head
shall attest to thy parental care
but could these few short summers be mine
the world would cry Sinclair
and echo with our fame
My castles are my King's alone
from turret to foundation stone
but the hand of Sinclair is his alone.
I die Canmores obediant servant
and he the lesser for it"
The Hand of Sinclair
Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 23:29:55 +0100
I photoed the date I don't remember it but I do have a date for you once
the photos are returned. The Mayor is sending me the name and correspondence
from the Americans. His English is not good, thankfully I had, God rest her
soul, a French mother nee Jaquelin Jacquet D'Orleans.
is a celebrated place in France Charles Ritz the hotellier
wrote about it in his book A Fly Fisher Life.
Erwin Rommel lived in the
house before his sucide in Berlin. I was invited for this and certain
British considerations to participate in carrying the Saint's remains. I
have drunk from the waters of the
I have touched the rock upon
which St Clair was beheaded and I have given my hand and yours to M.
Destouches, Mayor St Clair sur Epte.
``My castles are my King's alone from turret to foundation stone but the
hand of Sinclair is his alone.''
Origins of the Hermit
Date: Mon, 7 Jun 1999 17:27:26 +0100
The Salle de fete of St Clair sur Epte was completed in 1987 AD; they keep
the dragons head to remember. The stained glass in the church was to
commemorate the conversion of Rollo.
It bears the date 912 it is subscribed by
the people of St Clair (I could not find one St Clair or Sinclair in the
town) to mark the end of WWI.
Date: Mon, 7 Jun 1999 12:24:14 +0100
Niven Sinclair's account appears to be correct. Saint Clair's Father
apparently bethrothed him to this English woman. I was given the
information that she was from somewhere near London. The record of his
death was, in french, was "decapite", in English
The statues of Saint Clair
show him holding his head in his hand. He is always dressed as a monk. At
the place of his beheading, there is a small chapel directly across from the
rock on which he was beheaded. In the town of "Saint Clair sur Epte" their
is an ancient chateau, the ruins of which are still visible, it predates the
arrival of the Saint. The chateau sur Epte, the chateau
De Ville Arceau, the fortress Gisors, all predate Saint Clair's arrival.
The Chapel at the Holy Well
Date: Mon, 7 Jun 1999 12:59:25 +0100
The chapel at the site of the martyr is a small, slightly rectangular
building, which lies approximately 100m from the
It bears the
mark 884 as you face it and 1884 on the right. It is approximately 10
metres directly across from
the covered rock
on which Saint Clair was
decapitated. The masonry canopy over the rock shows the beheaded Saint
Clair showing his head in his hands to the left of the rock, his disciple
Cyrin to the right. The statue of Saint Clair, over the Holy Well, has been
removed to the safety of the Church. The well allegedly sprung from where
the blood of the martyr flowed. The chapel is built entirely of stone;
the ceiling inside is painted sky blue with golden stars. The chapel is not
lit, save by natural light. There is an altar that I have been informed has
not been used in a number of years. The chapel and rock are completely
enclosed by a stone wall. It has metal gates on both sides and a gravel
interior. It is extremely well kept. Large old trees lay just outside the
walls. The inner floor is in the French manner covered with stone.
Monsieur Le Mayor Destouches would be pleased to receive correspondance,
though he has no email facilties (It would simply be "Le Maire, St Clair-sur
Epte, Val-d'Oise, France") the town has approximately 1,100 people. In 1962
an archeologist excavated a site close by the chapel of Saint Clair, which
shows the earliest beginnings of the town, approximately 400 years after the
birth of Christ.
The Salle de Fete (Every French town has a party hall for weddings, baptisms
or other important events) of Saint Clair-sur-Epte is built entirely of wood
from Norway. The Gables are marked with dragon heads to remind the
townspeople of the viking, who ravaged all of Normandy.
The Normans besieged France as Vikings or Norsemen.
I will return to St-Clair-sur-Epte for the third time in attempt to find
answers to your questions. St. Clair-sur-Epte was apparently called before
its renaming Chateau-sur-Epte. In the church itself which apparently is
being rebuilt by stripping off the modern masonery, many of the heraldic
symbols are seen.
I will have more information for you shortly. I am
sending a second email concerning the Holy well and the chapel.
The Nine Saints Clarus
Date: Tue, 08 Jun 1999 00:13:23 +0100
All the Saint Clairs
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 1999 11:45:10 +0100
From: Niven Sinclair <email@example.com>
Our preoccupation with Saint Clair and St Clair-sur-Epte from where the
family is said to have
taken its name encourages me to throw further light on the various Saints
who paraded under
the name of Clair or, as he or they were known in Latin, Clarus.
For this further information, I am indebted to a translation from
which was published in Paris by Tchou in 1979.
A History of the Saint and Places which have been named after him:
In the 3rd Century, Saint Clair became the first Bishop of
Very little is known about him historically.
year 280, the Pope had Saint Clair sent to Armorique entrusting him with
a sinnal relic: the nail which was used to pirece the right hand of St
Peter at the time of
However, legend concerning Saint Clair seems to be much older than this
founing of the Holy See at Nantes.
Legend has it that in the year
69 he was consecrated Bishop by Saint
Linus, who was St Peter's successor (as the head of the church) and that
he died in the year 96.
This oral tradition of having a Saint Clair alive in the 1st Century has
allowed a fabulous hagiography in which he is placed in relationship with
a disciple of Joseph d'Arimathie, named Drennalus who went from Great
Britain to Armorique at this time.
This Saint Clair
is said to have died at Requiny near Vannes on October 10th - hence the
Feast Day of all Saint Clairs is on this day.
To the present day, the church of the Requiny Parish still prreserves a
trepanned skull which is said to be that of Saint Clair as well as a
cenotaph which is consecrated to him. The latter bears the folowing
inscription: ``Saint Clair buried here October 10th, 868.''
However, we learn from other sources that the corpse of the Saint was
transported from Nantes to Angers in 878 at the time of the Norman
invasions and that, until the Revolution, it
was protected in a silver reliquary in the Benedictine Church of St
Elsewhere, we learn that his skull was venerated in the Cathedral at
La Borderie, has seen in this duality of skulls ``an unimpeachable
proof of the tow personages''.
Usages, Customs, Legends, Songs, Sayings
Saint Clair is invoked for the recovery of eysight and for
weather favourable for good harvests.
Until 1890 at Requiny, people immersed the skull of the Saint in a basin
of water and, those
suffering from eye inflammation or blindness, used this hallowed water
for washing their eyes.
A Latin Hymn from 1400 is chanted to implore the grace of the Saint as a
means of curing blindness:
We praise by pious hymns
Saint Clair who gives light to blindness
The Chapel of Requiny has the honour of possessing a Chapel
built on the tomb of the Saint.
Nearby is a fountain dedicated to Saint Clair.
Situated not far from there is a house called ``kerbelec'' (the priest's house).
Local tradition has it
that it was built on the same site where the Saint lived or, at least,
where he sheltered during the last moments of his life.
Saint Clair is the patron saint of Saille (Loire-Atlantique) where
formerly a Priory was founded
and of its annex of Plesse; likewise the Church of Chantenay (Loire-Atlantique).
A Chapel is dedicated to Saint Clair in the Cathedral at Nantes; another at
Limerzel (Morbihan) and a
third at Lannedern (Finistere).
A chaplaincy honouring the Saint
was founded in 1504 at Saint Donan (Cotes-du-Nord) and another at
There is a fountain Sarzeau (Morbihan) bearing his name.
There is also a ruined Castle near Deval named Saint Clair.
The Church of Requiny possesses a tomb with a reclining
statue of Saint Clair whilst another stautue of the Saint can be seen in
the Church of Notre Dame of Doulas (Finistere)
A more modern statue has been placed in the Church of St Yves at
Whilst there are connecting threads it will be seen that the above
account(s) of Saint Clair(s)
various from the account given in L.A. St Clair's Genealogique de
la Famille de St Clair 1005-1905 which was published in Paris and that
given in the
Saint Clairs of the Isles
by Roland St Clair
which was published in Auckland, New Zealand in 1898.
There have been nine separate St Clairs according to the Dictionary of
(who may be the 10th)
From: Niven Sinclair <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It would appear to be quite simple: Forest - Hermit - Hut - Death 884 -
Chapel - Church - Village - Town - Rollo - Treaty of
St Clair-sur-Epte 912 some 28 years after the death of
(which is the spelling which is used on the three feet high altar
in the shrine to the hermit).
The only name which could have existed before the death of the hermit
would have been the name of the forest itself.
Another account of Clair states that he was born in Scotland (where
else?) and wrote the "Ritual of Divine Duty" and
lived about 600 A.D.
In the Dictionary of Christian Biography, Vol I (London 1877) there are
notices of nine saints named Clarus.
there states that the Clarus, after whom St Clair-sur-Epte was named, was
a personage of the IXth century and hailed from
Rochester in Kent.
This is the generally accepted version.
It is of little consequence because there is no suggestion that
the Sinclairs had any blood connection with any of the Saints.
When surnames came into vogue people simply adopted the
name of the area in which they lived or, in other cases, the name of
their trade or profession.
There is another interesting territorial connection because the Sinclairs
became the Governors of Rochester, Dover and Colchester castles after the
Conquest - protecting the gateways to London just as they protected the
gateway to Edinburgh (Rosslyn and Hermandston Castles) and the gateway to
Tunsberg (the then Royal Palace of Norway) by being Governors of Bergen
The Sinclairs had a strategy which transcended national boundaries.
They were, according to a Professor at Moscow State
University, one of the two most important families in Europe.
Thankfully, there is evidence of a resurgence of interest in our lineage
and in our heritage which can only augur well for the future.
We are nothing without our roots.
It is knowing our roots which
gives us stability; which allows us to realise and then release the
true potential which lies within each one of us and, with that knowledge,
to forge a better future for all Mankind.
"We are too few"
I hear people say.
Well it has always been the few who
have changed history.
Our forefathers did.
We may not be able to do so
on the same scale but I'm reminded that
"If every man could
mend a man, the whole World would soon be mended"
which brings us back to St Clair who was a great healer.
Last changed: 00/04/10 10:53:32