The Sinclair family

The ancestors of the Saint Clairs probably arrived with or after the Viking Rollo had settled in what was to become the Duchy of Normandy after the treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte in 911. There are a number of villages and hamlets called Saint-Clair in Normandy, most of which are named after a hermit. Although Saint-Clair-sur-Epte was important for the founding of Normandy, there is nothing to indicate that the Saint Clairs who arrived in England took their name from it.

In 1066, at least one Saint Clair accompanied Duke William to England and fought at Hastings. However, two others of that name obtained lands in southern England and, according to future myth-making, one of them was supposed to have joined the Scottish court of king Malcolm and his queen, Margaret Aetheling. Father Hay, the eighteenth-century historian of the Rosslyn St. Clairs, repeated this account by van Bassan, an earlier genealogist, but dismissed it. Still, at least one Anglo-Norman Saint Clair made the journey from England to Scotland. His descendants gained vast estates and honours, and became earls of Orkney through marriage, until the Scottish crown wrested control of the islands from Norway in 1471.

The Rosslyn branch of the family survived until 1778. Earlier, however, William Sinclair, the great great grandfather of the ‘Last of the Rosslyns’, joined King James I’s Ely O’Carroll plantation and settled in Ireland in 1620 with his second wife and family. This branch, and other Irish Sinclairs, is the subject of ongoing study.

Research has focused on the descendants of the three Saint Clairs who followed duke William to England: RichardBretel and Hubert de Saint Clair. This has resulted in uncovering new information about the Lanvalei family and William (III) de Lanvalei’s involvement in Magna Carta.

The following Newry Sinclair family members subscribed to the cost of creating this website:

Eveline Ritchie, Scotland
Harry James, Ireland
Sheila Sutton, England
Adrian Rouse, England
Sally de Blonay, Switzerland
Chris White, Canada
Graham Sinclair, England
Polly Atkinson, England
Teenie and Tony Geach, Canada
Will Irwin, Canada
Peter Sinclair, England

Europe in the eleventh century.

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