The Sinclairs of Holyhill

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, which was purchased by Rev. John Sinclair from the Magee family in 1683.

Hamilton recounted an interesting story about the house and family. After the Siege of Derry in 1689, 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.

There is the strong likelihood that the well-known ballad called The Moorlough Shore and sung by Sinéad O’Connor is referring to this family and Holyhill House in the lines:
Farewell to Sinclair’s castle grand,
Farewell to the foggy hill.

Back to other Irish Sinclair families


Descendant table

James Sinclair of Wester-Brimms, Caithness, went to Ireland in 1641 (-1659) m. Elizabeth Innes of Thurswater and Wester-Brimms (-before 1659)
Isabel Sinclair m. Rev. George Anderson of Halkirk
Jean Sinclair m. Alexander Sinclair, notary public in Thurso
Daughter Sinclair 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 Anne Galbraith (-1728), dau. of James Galbraith of Dowlish, MP for St Johnston, Co Donegal, 1661
Elizabeth Sinclair
Ezekiel Sinclair
John Sinclair
William Sinclair
Anna Sinclair
Elizabeth Sinclair
Andrew Sinclair
Rebecca Sinclair
Isabel Sinclair m. Claude Hamilton of Monterloney, Co Tyrone, issue
Anne Sinclair m. Robert Lowry of Aghenis, Co Tyrone, issue
John Sinclair (1698-1724) m. wife unknown
Anna Sinclair
Rebecca Sinclair
Jane Sinclair
Robert Sinclair
Catherine Sinclair m. Samuel Perry, issue
m. 1st Isabel — (-1673)
Rebecca Sinclair, d. young
Elizabeth Sinclair (1672-)
James Sinclair of Holyhill (1670-1718) m. Elizabeth Wray of Ards, Co Donegal (her stepmother’s cousin)
Annie Sinclair
Lettice Sinclair
Isabel Sinclair
Angel Sinclair (c.1700-) m. 1726 George Perry of Moyloughmore (c.1700-1771)
John Sinclair of Holyhill (1706-1770), High Sheriff of Co. Tyrone, 1732
m. 2nd 1754 Elizabeth Knox of Moneymore, Co Donegal (-1772)
James Sinclair (-1765)
George Sinclair (1756-1804) High Sheriff of Co Tyrone 1785
m. 1st 1736 Mariana Johnston of Magheramena, Co Fermanagh (-1753)
William Sinclair of Argery and Holyhill (1738-before 1796) m. 1767 Isabella, dau. of Thomas Young of Lough Eske, Co Donegal
Thomas Sinclair, a judge in Antigua (-1808) m. 1801 Alicia, dau. of Thomas Young of Lough Eske (cousin)
James Sinclair, Lieut.-Col. in Hon. East India Company Service (-1861) m. 1847 Rebecca Sinclair (cousin, daughter of James of Holyhill)
Ann Sinclair m. Rev. Phair, no issue
Rebecca Sinclair (-1845) m. John de Cluzeau
James Sinclair, DL, of Holyhill (1772-1865) m. 1805 Dorothea, only dau. and heiress of Rev. Samuel Law of Gartan, Co Donegal (1786-1864)
James Sinclair of Dunderg, Co Derry (1825-1898) m. 1862 Katherine, dau. of Rev. Robert Alexander of Aughnacloy, Co Derry (1830-1906)
Dorothea Alice Sinclair (1864-1875)
James Law Sinclair (1865-1923), d. Melbourne, Australia, m. Winifred Agnes Underwood (1872-1895)
James Alexander Sinclair (1895-)
Robert Alexander Sinclair (1866-1929), unm.
Isabelle Anne Sinclair (c.1869-1874)
Henry McClintock Sinclair (1869-1932) m. (1) 1895 Charlotte Marion Alexander (1870-1900), dau. of Rear Admiral Henry McClintock Alexander and Eliza Frances Charlotte Wiseman
m. (2) Ethel Margaret –
Walter Montgomery Sinclair (1871-1925), unm.
Kathleen Violet Sinclair (1872-1966), unm.
Alexander Montgomery Sinclair (1831-1900), unm.
Mary Sinclair (-1890), unm.
Dorothea Sinclair (-1871), unm.
Marion Sinclair (-1874), unm.
Rebecca Sinclair m. 1847, James Sinclair of Holyhill (cousin)
Ann Sinclair
Isabella Sinclair (-1864), unm.
Caroline Elizabeth Elizabeth (-1908), unm.
William Sinclair, JP and DL, of Holyhill and Drumbeggan, Co Fermanagh, Bonnyglen, Inver, Co Donegal, barrister-at-law, High Sheriff of Co Donegal 1854 (1810-1896) m. 1839 Sarah, dau. of James Cranbourne Strode of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and Sarah Lindesay of Loughry, Co Tyrone (1815-1898)
William Frederick (I) Sinclair (1843-1843)
William Frederick (II) Sinclair, Bombay civil service (1843-1900), no issue
Donald Brooke Sinclair (-1879), in I.C. Service, unm.
Alfred Law Sinclair, DSO, Lieut.-Col. in Indian Army (1853-1911) m. 1st Isabelle Edwards
Helen Sinclair m. Capt. Ley, no issue
m. 2nd 1897 Kate Adele Jane Rushton (-1953)
Malcom Cecil Sinclair, OBE, Lieut.-Col. in Indian Army (1899-1955) m. 1st 1923 Marjory Mary Fenwick (-1945)
One son and two daughters
m. 2nd 1948 Olive Mary Staines (-1955)
Jemima Sarah Sinclair m. 1897 Capt. Alexander Montgomery Stewart Sinclair, no issue
Dorothea Mary Sinclair, unm.
James Montgomery Sinclair of Holyhill and Bonnyglen, Inver, Co Donegal (1841-1899), High Sheriff of Co Donegal 1899 m. 1868 Mary Everina, youngest dau. of Lieut.-Col. Hugh Barton of The Waterfoot, Co Fermanagh
Everina Mary Carolina Sinclair (1870-) m. 1900 Charles L. D. Maxwell, issue
Rosabel Lindsey Sinclair (1883-1953)
William Hugh Montgomery Sinclair of Holyhill and Bonnyglen (1868-1930), diplomat, High Sheriff of Co Tyrone 1924
m. 1924 Elizabeth Ellin (Bessie) Hays of Philadelphia, PA, USA (1874-1957), no issue

Holyhill House at Leckpatrick, near Strabane, Co. Tyrone. Courtesy of Landed Families of Britain and Ireland.

The Reverend John Sinclair (1643-1702) is buried with his descendants at Leckpatrick graveyard. An enclosed square walled area with railings on top contains a number of large and ornate Sinclair memorials, some of which are set into the walls. Courtesy of BBC Radio Ulster, ‘Your Place & Mine’, May 2008.

A Sinclair headstone  marked ‘I  S  1671’ set in the wall of their enclosure at Old Leckpatrick Parish Graveyard, Ballyheather Road. Courtesy of Boyd Gray, 2019,