Welcome to this archive of genealogical and historical information relating to the Sinclair family. This web site includes a wealth of information about the Sinclair family and its history, including its origin as the St. Clair line in Normandy; the migration and settlement of the Sinclairs in the north of Scotland; and its incarnation under the name Sinkler in the colonies of the New World. I hope that you find something of interest here.
I am always interested in contributions of material to this Web site as it is my hope to archive as much historical and genealogical information here as I possibly can. I've had several wonderful contributions to this site already. You can find out more about this at the Submissions Page.
Use the index tool at the bottom of each page or the Home | Search | GuestBook icons to move around this site. If you have RealAudio installed on your system, feel free to click on any RealAudio "bubble" icon throughout this site for various sound bites - start with the one next to my signature below if you dare!
This web site was last visited ET
Follow any of these links for more detailed information on the history of the Sinclair family.
- Searchable Archive of Sinclair Discussion List Now Available. The Sinclair Discussion List boasts over 200 subscribers in an active email discussion of Sinclair genealogy and history. Thousands of messages from around the world have been received by the list since it was established in December 1997. Now those messages are automatically logged and made available for searching at this site. You may be surprised at how much information you will find in the Discussion List if you are searching for your family line. The list is maintained by John Sinclair Quarterman, a distinguished member of the Internet community and avid follower of Sinclair history and genealogy. For more information about the list and an easy to use form to subscribe and unsubscribe, please see the Discussion List Page.
- Sinclair Guest Book Search. Since it was first posted on this site, the Sinclair Guest Book has received over 550 entries, many with detailed information about Sinclair, St. Clair, and Sinkler lineage. An improved search function has been added to the Guest Book to allow a more refined search of the contents of Guest Book entries.
- Who Was John Sinkler? Rand Greubel of Montrose, Colorado, has studied the history and genealogy of John Sinkler of Exeter, N.H., for clues as to the accuracy of the research which has led to our current views on his life and times. John Sinkler is generally considered to be one of the first Sinclairs in the New World and is ancestor to many generations of Sinclairs. Rand was kind enough to submit this brief commentary on his research on John Sinkler for publication at this site.
- An Immigrant's Journey. Many Sinclair immigrants to the New World arrived after long and arduous ocean passages. Harry Sinclair Clark and his brother Alex were no exception. Harry and Alex emigrated from their home in Kinross, Scotland, and after a difficult two week passage over sea and land arrived in British Columbia, Canada, in June of 1907. Tom Middlemass of East Linton, Scotland, has been kind enough to submit Harry's detailed journal of their travels for publication at this site. Harry Sinclair Clark was an exceptional writer and, as Tom Middlemass has noted, of the many Sinclairs in the New World few have been fortunate enough to have such a real and poignant story of an ancestor's passage to "the great beyond," as Harry described it. This is a wonderfully evocative piece of writing, placed in rich historical perspective by Harry's sighting of the luxury liner R.M.S. Lusitania in drydock, only days before her maiden voyage. The Lusitania was torpedoed eight years later by the Germans just nine months into World War I in one of the most infamous maritime tragedies of the twentieth century. Harry's journal will be of interest to anyone - of Sinclair heritage or not - whose ancestors were immigrants in the New World.
- Orthography of the Sinclair Family Names. Many questions have been raised as to the derivation of the various names used by the Sinclair, St. Clair, and Sinkler families over the centuries. A noted 19th century family historian proposed a theory accepted as plausible by many.
- Sinclair Landmarks in History. The history of the Sinclair family can be traced back for more than a thousand years. Closely related to the crowns of France, England, and Scotland, Sinclairs have served major roles in world affairs throughout the pivotal events of western civilization. Sinclair ancestors have made their marks on world history in the early invasions of Europe by the Scandinavian Vikings; in the Crusades in the Holy Land; in William the Conqueror's historic invasion of England and the Battle of Hastings; in the Scottish Wars of Independence; in expeditions to the New World a century before Columbus; in battles sparked by the Religious Reformation as it swept across Europe; and more. Here is a list of places where you can actually see and touch Sinclair history, along with fascinating glimpses at their historical backdrop. This "Sinclair Landmarks" page is based on the work of H. S. "Pete" Cummings, Jr., official genealogist of Clan Sinclair.
- William Sinclair of Harray Parish, Orkney Islands: 1766-1818. Neil Ray of Goulais River, near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, is the great-great-great-great-grandson of William Sinclair of Harray Parish, Orkney Islands, and has spent several years researching the life and children of William Sinclair. He has graciously granted us the right to publish this bittersweet story of Sinclair's life. It is the tale of a true pioneer. Sinclair came to Canada from his native Scotland in 1792 as part of the then fledgling Hudson's Bay Company. He married an Indian Princess and worked his way up the company ladder to Chief Factor before misfortune and ill health struck. He died in 1818 and is buried at York Factory, Manitoba, Ontario, where his grave marker still stands.
- Family Tree: Sinkler 1650-Sinclair 1966. This genealogical research traces the Sinclair family of Midland, Michigan, to 1630 and John Sinkler. Originally a Highlander from the Caithness area of Scotland, perhaps Lybster, Sinkler was born John Sinclair. Upon his arrival in the New World in 1651, his name was bastardized as "Sinkler". A probable explanation: in pre-Colonial times, literacy was far from universal and with his Scottish brogue it is likely that American settlers understood his name as "Sinkler". During his life, John Sinkler affixed a mark known as a "round robin" rather than a signature to his documents and thus may have been illiterate. Written documents prepared by others would most likely use the phonetic spelling of his name and thus his family came to be known as "Sinkler". The Sinkler usage persisted for several generations but the Sinclair name for his line of descendants was restored in the middle 1700's.
- The Sinclairs of Caithness: 1066-1889. This article by George Banks from "The Highlander" magazine traces the "Lordly Line of High St. Clair" in the Caithness area of Scotland. The Sinclair family descends from the hermit St. Clare (also seen as St. Clere) who lived in a town now known as St. Clair sur l'Epte, in the northwest of Paris. This is in the area known as Normandy, named when Rollo the Viking, also a Sinclair family ancestor, brought Vikings - "northmen" - to the area. From France, the St. Clairs arrived in England accompanying William the Conqueror in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings. Many St. Clairs settled in the British Isles and the name was anglicized to "Sinclair". The Sinclairs were "invariably unlucky in their military expeditions" according to Banks and his article recounts some of the Clan's notable failures.
- The Sinclair Earldoms: 1162-1681.The Earldom of Orkney was granted to Henry Sinclair by King Haco VI of Norway in 1379. In 1455, William, 3rd Earl of Orkney was granted the Earldom of Caithness. In 1470, the family hold on the Earldom of Orkney was lost when King James III of England forced the family to cede the barony to him. In return, James granted title to Ravenscraig Castle in Fife. The remaining Earldom of Caithness passed through succeeding generations of Sinclairs.
- A concise timeline of Scottish history. This timeline - introduced by an amusing anecdote about God's creation of Scotland - may help put the Sinclair family's history into context. It includes the text of the Declaration of Arbroath, signed by Henry St. Clair, as well as a brief overview of the Scottish Wars of Independence.
- The Sinklers of Exeter: 1650-1810. Many American Sinclairs trace their heritage to John Sinkler, the Caithness Highlander who settled in Exeter, New Hampshire, upon coming to the New World. Larry Sinclair, past Commissioner of Clan Sinclair for the New England states and also a descendant of John Sinkler, has kindly provided a wonderful history of John and his descendants. Sinclair and his friend John Bean were among some 200-300 Scottish soldiers captured by the English in battles waged by Oliver Cromwell against Scotland during the religious reformation. Sinclair and Bean were captured during the Battle of Worcester in England in 1651 and were placed as indentured servants on the ship "John and Sara". After arriving in Boston, Sinclair and Bean worked off the indentures as lumberjacks, settled in Exeter, and became landowners.
- The Sinclairs of Midland, Michigan: 1865-1966. John Richard ("Dick") Sinclair (my father) wrote an interesting letter to his brother Bill in 1986 detailing the history of the Sinclair family in Midland. Take a look and leave your comments in the guest book if you see any inacurracies or have anything to add.
There are numerous entries in the Guest Book from Sinclairs interested in tracking down genealogical information. You may find something of particular genealogical interest or assistance in the Guest Book so it may be worth your time to browse through it. By signing the Guest Book with inquiries on specific names you are searching on, you might receive assistance from someone who views your entry.
- Look at the guest book. Check to see who's been here and what information they have available.
- Sign the Guest Book. Add your name to the list of visitors and leave your comments or questions for others to see. Before you sign the Guest Book, take a moment to look through all of the entries there to see if someone has posted a question that you may be able to answer.
You may search this site. This is particularly helpful if you are searching for the name of an ancestor. After you have entered your search terms, a list of documents containing them will be displayed. When you view a document containing your search terms, use the search function of your browser to find them within the document.
Here's an assortment of unrelated items that don't really fit neatly into any one category but ought to be here to make this site complete.
- Bibliography. Want to do some research on your own? Here are references to great sources of information on Sinclair genealogy and history. These are good starting points for further investigation of your family line.
- Your Name Here. If you are interested in publishing your Sinclair related materials at this site, please see this page for further information. Copyright to all materials submitted for publication at this site remains the property of the submitting author.
- Sinclair Family Tartans. What self-respecting Sinclair related web site wouldn't have an image of the family tartans? Here are looks at the Sinclair formal and hunting tartans.
- Sinclair Family Seal. The Clan Sinclair seal portrays a rooster surrounded by the family motto, "Commit thy work to God."
- Sinclair region of Scotland.This detail map of the northeastern most tip of the Scottish Highlands displays the ancestral home of Clan Sinclair, with Sinclair's Bay, Sinclair and Girnigoe Castles, Wick, and Thurso.
- Family Jokes. Some of the genealogy information here may be a little dull - these may help. My dad left me a file full of jokes that he inflicted on others over the years. Some of these are real "groaners" but don't blame me!
Disclaimer and copyright information: I am not a genealogist but am interested in the history of the Sinclairs and the Sinclair family name. The genealogical material at this site is believed to be accurate but may contain oversights, misstatements, or just plain old mistakes. In the event that any inaccuracy is noted or suspected, I would very much appreciate a note to that effect in order to correct any errors. I have prepared most of the information at this site but have also formatted non-original materials from various sources for web viewing. The source of some of the non-original materials is unknown to me. Copyright to all material not original to this site is retained by its author or preparer and all copyrights will be honored. Please send copyright or other inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There have been visits to this page since March 11, 1997.
Last modified Wednesday August 02 2006.
All original materials at this site copyright 1999 © Paul A. Sinclair.