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.
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
Isabel Sinclair m. Claude Hamilton of Monterloney, Co Tyrone, issue
Anne Sinclair m. Robert Lowry of Aghenis, Co Tyrone, issue
Catherine Sinclair m. Samuel Perry, issue
Elizabeth Sinclair (1672-)
James Sinclair of Holyhill (1670-1718) m. Elizabeth Wray of Ards, Co Donegal (her stepmother’s cousin)
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)
George Sinclair (1756-1804) High Sheriff of Co Tyrone 1785
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 Law Sinclair (1865-1923), d. Melbourne, Australia, m. Winifred Agnes Underwood (1872-1895)
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
Walter Montgomery Sinclair (1871-1925), unm.
Kathleen Violet Sinclair (1872-1966), unm.
Mary Sinclair (-1890), unm.
Dorothea Sinclair (-1871), unm.
Marion Sinclair (-1874), unm.
Rebecca Sinclair m. 1847, James Sinclair of Holyhill (cousin)
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 (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
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
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