Lords Sinclair of Rosslyn

The title of Lord Sinclair is first noticed in 1407, when Henry Sinclair, 2nd Earl of Orkney was referred to as ‘Henry, Earl of Orkney, Lord de Sinclair’ in a charter by Archibald, 4th Earl of Douglas, granting Henry the barony of Herbertshire. Henry’s son, William was also styled Lord Sinclair, in a grant of the earldom of Caithness in 1455. At some point during the early 1400s, ‘Lord’ became an official title, denoting a noble who was obliged to attend the Scottish parliament and both Earl Henry and certainly his son Earl William, who became Chancellor of Scotland, did just that.

In 1488-9, William (the Waster)’s eldest son Henry, was recognised by the King and Parliament as Lord Sinclair, ‘chief of that bluid.‘ In other words, he was not created Lord Sinclair; he was recognised as holding a title he derived from his ancestors: ‘…the saidis Sir Henry’s grandsire and father Lords Sinclair, for the tyme are decessit and the saidis Sir Henry richwise heretor to them‘ is the wording in the act from whence the numbering commencing from Earl William began, ignoring Earl Henry II completely.

Earl William had already given the barony of Newburgh in Aberdeenshire and Carden in Stirlingshire to his eldest son, William ‘the Waster’ in 1459 and having contested his father’s will, William also acquired the barony of Cousland in Midlothian, Dysart with Ravenscraig Castle along with Dubbo, Wilston and Carberry in Fife. Unfortunately, he sold off several parts of these lands in both Fife and Aberdeenshire and his son, Lord Henry, sold Cousland in Midlothian in 1493, leaving only Ravenscraig Castle and the lands of Dysart, plus the barony of Newburgh including Knockhall, where a later Lord Sinclair built a castle in 1565 and which, although now ruinous, has recently sold for £130,000.

Sir William of Warsetter, the second son of William ‘the Waster’, was the progenitor of many Orcadian and Shetlander Sinclair families holding the lands in the northern isles in the family for many more generations, which Earl William had bought outright. In the 1560s Lord Henry’s infamous grandson, James Hepburn, having already deserted one fiancé and run off with her dowry, then married and divorced another woman. He then married Mary, Queen of Scots – although that did not end well, with James dying in a dungeon in Dragsholm Castle in Denmark in 1578. On a more positive note, in the 1590s Andrew Sinclair, son of another Lord Henry (d. 1601), a courtier in the employ of King Christian IV and ultimately a member of the Danish Riksråd (Privy Council), was a successful diplomat who acquired land in southern Sweden and built Sinklarsholm, which was inherited by his eldest son until it was sold some years later.

The Lordship title continued down through the family until 1674, when John, Lord Sinclair, died, leaving no male heirs, only a daughter Catherine, who had married John St. Clair of Herdmanston. Catherine Sinclair herself had predeceased her father in 1666. However, in 1677 a new creation of the lordship was granted to Henry, the eldest son of Catherine and her husband. The first creation of Lord Sinclair remains forfeit following the attainder of Henry’s son John, the Master of St. Clair, in 1715, due to his Jacobite leanings and involvement in the battle of Sheriffmuir. Only the second creation from 1677 remains in existence today. [See Herdmanston Lords Sinclair part one and Herdmanston Lords Sinclair part two for more information]

Nina Cawthorne


William Sinclair (the Waster), Baron of Newburgh, (3rd) Lord Sinclair ( -1487) m. c.1458 Christian Leslie, dau. of George, Earl of Rothes and Christian, dau. of Walter Haliburton of Dirleton
Sir William Sinclair of Warsetter (Sanday, Orkney) ( -bef. 1527) m. Elene Gordon (?) dau. of Sir George Gordon, 2nd Earl of Huntly and Elizabeth Hay
David Sinclair of Brugh [nat. son, legitimised 1536]
Sir James Sinclair of Brecks (Orkney) [nat. son, legitimised 1536] ( -1536) m. Barbara, dau. of Andrew Stewart, Lord Avondale and Margaret Kennedy, dau. of Sir John Kennedy of Dunure
Sir Edward Sinclair of Strom (Shetland) (nat. son) ( -1560) m. Margaret Dischington
Agatha Sinclair [nat. dau. legitimised 1547] m. William Groat of Duncansby (Caithness)
Magnus Sinclair of Warsetter ( -bef. 1546) m. Janet Keith ‘of that ilk’
John Sinclair of Tolhope (Orkney) ( -bef. 1579) m. unknown
Magnus Sinclair ( -aft.1487) [witness for his father William in 1487]
Elizabeth Sinclair m. John Glendonwyn of Glendinning and Parton (Roxburghshire)
Henry Sinclair, (4th) Lord Sinclair (c.1460-1513 at Flodden) m. abt. 1488 Margaret Hepburn, dau. of Adam Hepburn, Master of Hailes and Ellen Home, dau of Sir Alexander Home of Home
William Sinclair, [nat. son, legitimised c.1539] ( -c.1585) Rector of Olrig, Vicar of Latheron (Caithness)
John Sinclair ( -aft. 1585)
Janet Sinclair m. 1558 William Sutherland of Forse (Caithness)
Katherine Sinclair ( -bef. 1526) m. 1511 David Wemyss of Wemyss (Fife)
Helen Sinclair ( -bef. 1562) m. James Ogilvy, 4th Lord Ogilvie of Airlie (Angus)
Jean Sinclair (c.1505-c.1559) m. Alexander Lindsay, Master of Crawford (Lanarkshire)
Elizabeth Sinclair [royal servant, c.1511-c.1541]
Agnes Sinclair, ‘Lady Morham’ ( -c.1572) m. Patrick Hepburn, 3rd Earl of Bothwell
James Hepburn (c.1534-1578) Earl of Bothwell, Duke of Orkney
m. c.1559 (1) Anna, dau. of Kristoffer Throndson
m. (2) c.1566 Jean, dau. of George Gordon, Earl of Huntly,
m. (3) 1567 Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots
Jean Hepburn (c.1536-1599)
m. (1) 1561 John Stewart, Prior of Coldingham, 1st Lord Darnley
m. (2) bef. 1567 John Sinclair (c.1543-1576) Master of Caithness
William Sinclair, (5th) Lord Sinclair ( -1570) m. (2) Agnes Bruce
Magnus Sinclair of Kyninmonth of the Leyis ( -1586)
m. (1) Marion, dau. of Sir David Bruce 7th of Clackmannan and Janet Blackadder
m. (2) c.1578 Beatrix Sinclair, dau. of William Sinclair, 14th Baron of Roslin and Isabel Kerr
William Sinclair ( -bef. 1630)
Jean Sinclair ( -aft. 1630) m. 1606 Patrick Balfour of Barrounhill
Patrick Balfour ( -aft. 1630) [heir to his maternal grandfather and uncle William]
m. (1) c.1524 Elizabeth Keith, dau. of William Keith, 3rd Earl Marischal and Elizabeth Gordon
Margaret Sinclair (c.1525- )
Henry Sinclair, (6th) Lord Sinclair (1527-1601) m. (2) bef. 1588 Elizabeth Forbes, dau. of William, 7th Lord Forbes and Elizabeth Keith of Inverugie
Henry Sinclair ( -1589)
Capt. Lawrence Sinclair ( -aft. 1626) m. unknown
William Sinclair ( -1608) Ostend, Belgium
Elizabeth Sinclair ( -1654) m. c.1597 Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy, Bt.
Jane Sinclair ( -aft. 1650)
m. (1) c.1600 Sir George Seton of Parbroath (Fife)
m. (2) c.1618 James, brother of John Melville, 3rd Lord Melville
Barbara Sinclair ( -aft. 1600)
m. (1) abt. 1547 Janet, dau. of John, Lord Lindsay of the Byres and Helen Stewart of Atholl
Patrick Sinclair of Pitteuchar and Balgriggie (c.1550-c.1618) m. c.1607 Katherine, dau. of James Boswell of Balmuto and Katherine Chalmers
Henry Sinclair ( -bef. 1618)
Patrick Sinclair ( -aft. 1651) [‘brother-german’ in testament of John, d. 1651]
Catherine Sinclair ( -c.1656) m. David Scrymgeour of Bowhill (Fife)
Isobel Sinclair m. 1624 David Simpson younger of Smeaton (Fife)
John Sinclair of Pityeocher and Balgriggie ( -1651)
m. (1) Jean Moncreiff of Craigsyde (Fife)
m. (2) Grissell, dau. of Mr David Scrymgeour
John Sinclair of Balgriggie ( -bef. 1672) m. unknown
John Sinclair of Balgriggie ( -1710) m. 1682 Susanna, dau. of Rev. George Peches
Susanna Sinclair (1690- )
Anna Sinclair of Balgriggie (c.1688-c.1740) m. 1706 George, son of Patrick Ross of Innernethy (Perthshire)
Jean Ross (1709- )
Susanna Ross (1711- )
John Ross of Balgriggie, Advocate (1708-1784) [adopted the name Sinclair] m. 1753 Rachel, dau. of John Moncreiff, merchant in Perth
George Janet Sinclair (1755- ) died young
Rachel Sinclair (1758- )
Susanna Sinclair (1760- )
Jean Sinclair of Balgriggie (1757-1836) m. 1784 Maj. Gen. Roger Aytoun, ‘Spanking Roger’ of Inchdairnie (Fife)
Helen Sinclair (c.1552-bef. 1580) m. c.1570 Andrew Kininmont of Kininmont (Fife)
Margaret Sinclair (c.1554- ) m. 1579 Archibald Balfour of Westray (Orkney)
Magnus Sinclair (c.1558- )
Sir Andrew Sinclair of Sinklarsholm (1555-1625) m. 1600 Kirsten, dau. of Erik Kaas and Kirsten Pedersdattir Galt
Henrick/Erik Sinclair (c.1602- ) died young
Col. James/Jacob Sinclair of Sinklarsholm (c.1603- )
m. 1635 (1) Francesca, dau. of Sir Henry Beaumont of Stoughton Grange, Leicestershire
m. (2) Elizabeth Turpin
Anders Sinclair (c.1636-aft. 1681) [High Court Judge of Lalland and Falster, Denmark, in 1670] m. unknown
unknown Sinclair (1681-1681) died at birth
Kirsten Sinclair (c.1638-aft. 1680) m. Maj. Friedrich Schrod (d.1688)
Friedrich Christian Schrod (1669- )
Anders Schrod (1680- )
Johanne Sinclair (c.1604-aft. 1643) m. Jesper Gøye [Sheriff of Brunla and Numedalen, Norway]
Maj. Christian Sinclair (1607-1645) m. 1639 Lisbet Clausdatter Below ( -1642) no issue
Robert Sinclair (1610- ) died young
James Sinclair ‘Master of Sinclair’ (c.1557-1593) m. Isabel, dau. of Andrew Leslie, 5th Earl Rothes and Grizel Hamilton of Finnart
Catherine Sinclair ( -c.1648) m. c.1618 Sir George Hamilton of Blackburn
Margaret Sinclair m. William Sinclair, Lord Berriedale, son of George, 5th Earl of Caithness and Jean, dau. of George Gordon 5th of Huntly
Eupham Sinclair (1590- )
Henry Sinclair, (7th) Lord Sinclair (1581-1602) unmarried
James Sinclair, (8th) Lord Sinclair (1582-1607) unmarried
Patrick Sinclair, (9th) Lord Sinclair (1584-1615/17) m. Margaret, dau. of Sir John Cockburn of Ormiston [Lord Justice-Clerk] and Janet Home of Manderson
Col. Henry Sinclair (c.1612-1670) unmarried
John Sinclair, (10th) Lord Sinclair (1610-1674) m. Mary, dau of John Wemyss, 1st Earl Wemyss and Jane/Jean dau. of Patrick, Lord Gray
Henry Sinclair (1639- ) died young
John Sinclair (1640- ) died young
Anna Sinclair (1642- ) died young
James Sinclair (1644- ) died young
Margaret Sinclair (1645- ) died young
Catherine Sinclair ( -1666) m. 1659 John St. Clair of Herdmanston (1623-1666)

Before the Jacobite period (from 1688) the crest was described as ‘A swan with wings expanded proper [natural colour], argent [silver] ducally gorged [coronet around its neck] and chained or [gold],’ with the motto ‘Fight.’ Image copyright Armorial Gold Heraldry Services

Ravenscraig Castle, Dysart, from the south-east. Photograph courtesy of whatsonfife.co.uk

Drone footage of Ravenscraig Castle on 6 June 2022. Courtesy of One Man & His Camera on YouTube

Ruins of Knockhall Castle, near Newburgh, Aberdeenshire, built 1565 by Lord Sinclair, sold 1634 to the Udny family, ravaged by fire 1734, then abandoned. Photograph courtesy Ian McClelland

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