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.
m. Elizabeth Innes of Thurswater and West Brimes (-before 1659)
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
Isabel m. Claude Hamilton of Monterloney
Catherine m. Samuel Perry
James Sinclair of Holyhill (1670-1718) m. Elizabeth of Ards, Co. Donegal, her stepmother’s cousin
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
William of Argery and Holyhill (1738-before 1796)
m. 1767 Isabella Young of Lough Eske, Co. Donegal
m. Alicia Young (cousin)
m. 1847 Rebecca Sinclair (cousin, daughter of James of Holyhill)
James Sinclair of Holyhill (c.1770-1865)
m. 1805 Dorothea Law of Gartan (1786-1864)
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)
Donald Brooke (-1879), in I.C. Service, unm.
Alfred Law, DSO, Lieut.-Col. in Indian Army (1853-1911)
m. 1st Isabelle Edwards
m. 1st 1923 Marjory Mary Fenwick (-1945)
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
m. 1922 Capt. David Mackey, Somerset Light Infantry
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