William St. Clare of Preston, M.D.

According to the Will of Sarah St. Clair (the last Rosslyn’s surviving daughter) of 9 May 1789, her father had a ‘natural’ daughter known as Jean and then living in Artichoke Lane, Wapping, in London. Sarah provided her with an annuity of £20. She also bequeathed £50 to a ‘Bustard Grandson’, Mr William St. Clair, a surgeon in Clitheroe. He was Jean’s son, who was born in 1752. Jane, as she was referred to in her son’s Will, was living in Nottinghamshire in 1812, supposedly Worksop. She died and was buried at the church of St Ambrose, Grindleton, Yorkshire, on 8 December 1816.

William obtained his medical certificate at the University of Edinburgh in 1772 and set up a very successful practice in Preston, Lancashire. He married firstly Ann Lawson, by whom he had Francis, William, Charles James, Alexander, and several children who died young, and secondly, Betty Gardner. William died in 1822 and was also buried at St Ambrose, Grindleton. His many friends subscribed £258 11s to erect a memorial to his memory in the parish church of St. John, Preston.

It seems that none of William and Ann’s children were to have children themselves. Three of their sons remained single and only William junior married. His wife was Sarah Horrocks, the daughter of Samuel Horrocks, a leading industrialist in Preston who introduced Cartwright’s power loom, much to the resentment of skilled weavers who were thrown out of work.

The Medical Practice the father and son built was extensive, stretching into Yorkshire and servicing the needs of the local gentry, with whom they maintained very amiable relationships.

Although there does not appear to be any surviving descendants from Jane’s offspring, there remains the possibility that Alexander Sinclair, a cousin of Dr William St. Clare of Preston and an attorney in London, had a son. To have been a cousin, Alexander had to have had a parent who was Jane’s sibling, maybe another natural son or daughter of the last Rosslyn. However, there is also an indication that Jane actually married another Sinclair and it could be through her husband that Alexander was William’s cousin.


William St. Clair ‘The Last Rosslyn’
A natural son or dau.
Alexander Sinclair of London (c.1743-1801)
m. Martha Chance (c.1733-1797)
[T—–] Sinclair
Jane, a natural dau. (1730-1816)
Clementina (-after 1801) unm.
William St. Clare of Preston, M.D. (1752-1822)
m. (1) Ann Lawson (c.1755-1836)
Francis (1782-1827) unm.
William (1784-1847)
m. Sarah Horrocks (c.1793-1868), no issue
James (1785-1786)
Charles James (1787-1865) unm.
John (1788-1791)
Alexander (1789-1860) unm.
Jane Maria (1792-1793)
m. (2) Betty Gardner (1755-1836)


Dr William St. Clare of Preston, the ‘Bustard Grandson’ of the last Rosslyn. Courtesy of Keith Johnson, Secret Preston (2015)

The Last Rosslyn, William St. Clare’s grandfather. There can be doubt that William bears a striking similarity, confirmation (if needed) that he was definitely his grandson.

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