Spring 2011

Spring 2011

A lot of new facts have been uncovered about the Sinclairs in England after the Conquest, the Roslin Irish connection, and the Newry family. They haven't all reached the website yet, but will do in due course.


For those with a penchant for anniversaries, 2011 is the 1100th anniversary of the treaty between the Viking Rollo and Charles the Simple, king of France. The Duchy of Normandy came into existence after the treaty was signed in 911 at Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, which took its name from Clair, a hermit from Kent, who lived there in the 9th century. Saint-Clair-sur-l'Elle was another place that took his name, and the family who held land there was known as 'de Saint Clair' or 'of St. Clair'. After they arrived in England they continued to use St. Clair, although some accepted the change to Sinclair over the centuries.

The Norman Sinclairs

William de St. Clair gave the church of Hamerton to St. John's Abbey in Colchester in the 12th century.

A considerable amount of information about the Sinclairs in England from as early as the 11th century has survived. They are named in charters as benefactors, and in many more as witnesses. Unfortunately, the only previous attempt to record their holdings in England was a highly flawed book published in 1887. The author discovered many sources, but made the classic mistake of trying to force the facts to fit his beliefs, which means that it now has only limited value.

From the Irish Midlands to Co. Tyrone

When William Sinclair sold his plantation holding of 1000 acres at Newton in Ely O'Carroll country in 1627, it looked like he and his family simply vanished. I spent many hours searching for them in seventeenth-century records in Dublin. What I found were a number of Sinclairs, freemen of the City of Dublin, and a very interesting Presbyterian minister who was in charge of a congregation at Bull Alley in the 1690s, but there were no links with any of them.

By a stroke of good luck, Victor Treadwell's research into the Irish Commission of 1622 that investigated the success or failure of the Irish plantations was published in 2006. There, as expected, was a reference to [Sir] William Sinclare, holding land in Ely O'Carroll. But what was unexpected was a reference to William Sinklere, laird of Rosteen, holding 60 acres near Clogher in Co. Tyrone. They were obviously the same William. To get round his Letter Patent from king James I, he used a variant of his name to obtain another holding, like other planters who obtained more than one proportion. William's family remained in Ulster after he died.

James Spottiswoode, Bishop of Clogher (1621-1644), who was the uncle of William Sinclair's daughter-in-law. William had many dealings with her father in Sotland.

The Enniskillen Taylors

A visit to Enniskillen while I was at Clogher gave me an opportunity to look for descendants of Dr William Taylor and Ellen Sinclair, Abraham Walker Sinclair's second daughter. They had married in 1874 but I found it difficult to establish the names of their children. It was finally possible to do this in Belfast, where it was recorded they were William Sinclair Taylor (Enniskillen), Charles John Taylor (who died without children) and James Taylor (Aughnacloy). It turned out that William had been a successful pharmacist in Enniskillen. By visiting a local estate agent and the relatives of the person who bought his house - apparently the first one in Enniskillen to be sold for over £1million - it was possible to find Peter Taylor, a grandson who lives in England.

This means that I have now been able to make contact with living descendants of all William (my great great grandfather) and Ellen Sinclair's children.

The Sinclairs in England

The Sinclair family before the War.

For my Sinclair family here in England, I have created a page about Henry Douglas Sinclair and his family, who arrived here from Belfast in 1900 to marry Nellie Jones from Cradoc in Wales. I've also taken the opportunity to provide a little more  information about his Irish brothers and sisters, his father, Abraham Walker Sinclair, and his grandfather, William Sinclair.


For those who remember my father and mother, Eric and Norah, a friend of the family stumbled on archive footage from British Pathe News when they filmed The Half Moon. It should bring back some memories!

Peter Sinclair, 41 High Street, Barkway, Hertfordshire, SG8 8EA peter@sinclairgenealogy.info www.sinclairgenealogy.info

This is an occasional newsletter published by the Sinclair genealogy website. It provides information about new research and recent historical discoveries in Normandy, England, Scotland and Ireland.