Sinclairs of Holyhill

Holyhill House

Holyhill House, courtesy of "Your Place & Mine", BBC Radio Ulster.

In the south or 'Murkle Aisle' of the parish church in Thurso, Caithness, Scotland, there is a mural inscription on the northwest wall, in the folllowing terms:

This is the burial place of James Sinclair of Borlum; and here lyes James Sinclair his eldest son and his spouse, Elizabeth Ennes, who left behind them the Rev. Mr John Sinclair who was Rector of Leckpatrick nigh Strabane in Ireland 1665. Here lyes Isabel Sinclair who was married to the Rev. George Anderson, Minister of Halkirk; and Elizabeth Sinclair married to John Farquhar, Bailize of Thurso; and Margaret Sinclair, spouse to George Sinclair of Ulgrimbeg [grandson of John Sinclair, 1st of Assery].

Cited in The Sinclair Family of Belfast, N. Ireland and their Descendants 1660-1964 by Mrs St. Claire Lappe Daub (USA), from The Caithness Family History Book by John Henderson.

"Your Place & Mine" (BBC Radio Ulster) broadcast a programme about Leckpatrick graveyard in May 2008, when Hamilton Thompson, then the current owner, talked about Holyhill House and the Sinclair family. It is still available to listen to at Your Place & Mine.

He recounted an interesting story related to the house and the family. After the Siege of Derry, James II's fleeing troops arrived at Holyhill. They were about to burn it down when the commander of the troops issued an order that it should be left untouched. He was a Hamilton, and it is thought it was because the Rev. John Sinclair's first wife was a Hamilton that he saved it from destruction. The commander was on the Donegal bank of the Foyle at the time, so his messenger had to swim across the river to deliver it. However, the Rev. John Sinclair did not marry a Hamilton, but his daughter Isabel married Claude Hamilton of Monterloney, which would make this story quite possible. 

It should be noted that the townland is called "Holly Hill", but the Sinclairs always referred to their property as "Holy Hill". There is also the strong likelihood that the well-known ballad called The Moorlough Shore is speaking about this family and Holyhill House in the lines:

Farewell to Sinclair's castle ground [grand].
Farewell to the foggy hill [Holly Hill]


The Sinclairs of Holyhill


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 generations      
James Sinclair of West Brimes, Caithness, went to Ireland in 1641 (-1659)      
m. Elizabeth Innes of Thurswater and West Brimes (-before 1659)          
  Isabel m. Rev. George Anderson of Halkirk                
  Jean m. Alexander Sinclair, notary public in Thurso            
  m. 1st Alexander Abernethy in Swordale                
  m. 2nd Alexander Mulliken in Papigo, chamberlain to the Earl of Caithness      
  Rev. John Sinclair of Holyhill (1643-1702), went to Ireland c.1663, Rector of Holyhill from 1665,  
  Chaplin to the Duke of Ormonde, Lord Lieut. of Ireland            
  m. 2nd Anna Galbraith, daughter of James Galbraith of Mt. Gavelin, MP, Co. Donegal, 1661  
    Elizabeth, Ezekiel, John, William, Anna, Elizabeth, Andrew, Rebecca    
    Isabel m. Claude Hamilton of Monterloney              
    Anne m. Robert Lowry of Aghenis, Co. Tyrone    
      John (1698-1724) m. not known              
        Anna, Rebecca, Jane, Robert              
        Catherine m. Samuel Perry              
          George m. Angel Sinclair            
            Margaret m. Capt. Edward Perry        
              George m. Miss Crawford        
                Sinclair m. Miss Dick        
                  Mary m. Oliver Speer      
  m. 1st Isabel --- (-1673)                      
    Rebecca, d. young                    
    Elizabeth (1672-)                    
    James Sinclair of Holyhill (1670-1718) m. Elizabeth of Ards, Co. Donegal, her stepmother's cousin  
      Anne, Lettice, Isabel                  
      Angel m. George Perry of Moyloughmore          
      John Sinclair of Holyhill (1706-1770), High Sheriff of Co. Tyrone, 1732    
      m. 2nd 1754 Elizabeth Knox of Moneymore, Co. Donegal      
        George (1756-1803/4) High Sheriff of Co. Tyrone, 1785      
      m. 1st 1736 Marianna Johnston of Kilmore, Co. Fermanagh (-1753)    
        James (-1765)                
        William of Argery and Holyhill (1738-before 1796)        
        m. 1767 Isabella Young of Lough Eske, Co. Donegal    
          Thomas, a judge in Antigua (-1808)        
          m. Alicia Young (cousin)          
            James, Lieut.-Col. HEICS (-1861)      
            m. 1847 Rebecca Sinclair (cousin, daughter of James of Holyhill)
              Daughter m. Rev. Phair, no issue    
          Rebecca (-1845) m. John de Cluzenn      
          James Sinclair of Holyhill (c.1770-1865)      
          m. 1805 Dorothea Law of Gartan (1786-1864)    
            James m. 1861 Katherine Alexander of Aughnacloy, Co. Derry (-1906)
              4 sons, 2 daughters        
            Alexander Montgomery, unm.        
            Mary (-1890), unm.            
            Dorothea (-1871), unm.            
            Marion (-1874), unm.            
            Rebecca m. James Sinclair of Holyhill (cousin)    
            Isabella (-1864), unm.            
            Caroline Elizabeth (-1908), unm.        
            William Sinclair of Holyhill, Drumbegan, Bonnyglen-Inver, barrister-at-law (1810-1896)
            m. 1830 Sarah Strode of Tunbridge Wells, Kent (1815-1898)  
              William Frederic, in Bombay civil service (1843-1900), no issue  
              Donald Brooke (-1879), in I.C. Service, unm.    
              Alfred Law, DSO, Lieut.-Col. in Indian Army (1853-1911)  
              m. 1st Isabelle Edwards        
                Helen m. Capt. Ley, no issue    
              m. 2nd 1897 Kate Adele Jane Rushton (-1953)  
                Malcomb Cecil, OBE, Lieut.-Col. in Indian Army (1899-1955)
                m. 1st 1923 Marjory Mary Fenwick (-1945)    
                  June Ursula (1927-)      
                  Ian Clennell (1929-2011)      
                  m. 1958 Margaret Mary Cullen (1924-2013)  
                    Fiona Mary (1962-)    
                    m. 1992 Francis Hamilton    
                      Francis George (1993-)    
                      Ian Patrick (1996-)    
                  Daphne Elizabeth (1931-)    
                m. 2nd 1948 Olive Mary Staines (-1955)  
              Jemima Sarah m. 1897 Capt. Alexander Montgomery Stewart, no issue
              Dorothea, unm.            
              James Montgomery Sinclair of Holyhill and Bonneyglen, Inver, Co. Donegal
              (1841-1899), High Sheriff of Co. Donegal, 1899    
              m. 1868 Mary Everina Barton of the Waterfoot, Co. Fermanagh  
                Everina Mary Caroline (1870-)      
                m. 1900 Charles L. D. Maxwell    
                  Heather Maxwell (1901-)      
                  m. 1922 Capt. David Mackey, Somerset Light Infantry
                    John Sinclair      
                    Heather Everina      
                Rosabel Lindsey (1884-1953)      
                William Hugh Montgomery Sinclair of Holyhill and Bonnyglen  
                (1868-1930), High Sheriff of Co. Tyrone, 1924  
                m. 1924 Elizabeth Elliot (Bessie) Hayes of Philadelphia, PA, USA
                (1874-1957), no issue