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 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 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. wife unknown
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)
Four sons and two 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)
One son and two daughters
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
One son and one daughter
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

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.