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THE SINCLAIRS OF STIRKOKE

Stirkoke House and the estate of Stirkoke are in the parish of Wick.
In 2002 it was owned by Alexander and Alistair Sinclair

I. IN 1507 DAVID SINCLAIR obtained a Crown charter of Stirkoke and Alterwall, in which he is designated "filio naturali quond. Joannis Magistri Cathanensis", and in 1588 he obtained letters of legitimation. He died before 1595, and left a son, John, as also a natural son, Colonel George Sinclair, who was slain in an expedition to Norway in 1612.

II. JOHN SINCLAIR OF STIRKOKE was slain in a fight at Thurso in 1612. It is uncertain whether he had any issue.

III. FRANCIS SINCLAIR, LAIRD OF STIRKOKE, in 1624, was a natural son of George, fifth Earl of Caithness.

In Captain Kennedy's MS. relative to Caithness matters, he states that Francis Sinclair's mother was one Barbara Mearns. In February 1670 Christian Mearns, daughter of William Mearns in Wick, as nearest heir of her grandfather, George Mearns of Occumster, Achavar, and Smerary, (Inventory of Caithness titles) and of her grand-uncle, William Mearns of Occumster, granted a disposition to Francis Sinclair, whose mother, if Captain Kennedy's account is correct, was perhaps of this family.

Francis Sinclair married Margaret Williamson, and had three sons and two daughters: -

  1. Francis, his successor
  2. John
  3. Gustavus
  1. Marjory, who was the fifth wife of Donald, first Lord Reay, by whom he had three sons, William of Kinloch, Charles of Sandwood, and Rupert; and two daughters, Margaret, who died in Thurso in 1720, and Christian, who married, in 1650, Alexander Gunn of Killernan (Clan Gunn), and was in 1668 infeft in liferent in lands of Navidale, etc., on disposition by her husband
  2. Anne, who married Colonel Francis Sinclair in Scrabster, a son of John Sinclair, first of Assery
IV. FRANCIS SINCLAIR OF STIRKOKE married, in 1658, Anne, eldest daughter of Patrick Sinclair of Ulbster. His mother, Margaret Williamson, and his "uncle", Francis of Northfield, second son of George, fifth Earl, were parties to the contract of marriage, thus showing that his father, Francis, must have been one of the two natural sons of Earl George. Francis Sinclair had four sons and a daughter: -
  1. Patrick, eldest son in 1676
  2. John, his successor
  3. George, called the second son, who had a charter to Sibster-Wick in 1673-75
  4. Charles of Bilbster [parish of Watten], who married, first, Katharine, daughter of George Sinclair of Barrock, and, secondly, Mary Dunbar. His only child, Fenella, married Donald Sinclair of Olrig. Charles Sinclair had the unenviable sobriquet of "Earl of Hell"
  1. Jean, who married John Gibson, minister of Evie, Orkney, brother of Alexander Gibson, minister of Canisbay
V. JOHN SINCLAIR OF STIRKOKE was served heir to his father in 1681, and died about 1706. He married Margaret, daughter of Sir James Sinclair of Mey, and had two sons: -
  1. Francis
  2. George
VI. FRANCIS SINCLAIR OF STIRKOKE had several daughters, but no male issue; (1706) and in 1710 he disponed the estate to his brother, George. His daughter, Frances, was married to Bernard Clunes, merchant in Cromarty, by whom she had a family. Some litigation took place between her and her uncle in regard to the succession to the lands, which, under a submission, were awarded to him as heir-male.

VII. GEORGE SINCLAIR of STIRKOKE married Isabella Strahan. He died in 1744, and had three sons and two daughters: -

  1. Charles, apparent in 1768
  2. Francis, who was a shipmaster in Wick
  1. Elizabeth, who married George Smith in Dunnet
  2. Helen, who married John Sinclair of Sibster
VIII. CHARLES SINCLAIR OF STIRKOKE married Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Sinclair of Olrig, and had an only daughter, Katharine Sinclair of Stirkoke, who resided and died at Scorraclett unmarried.

The arms of Francis Sinclair of Stirkoke, as recorded in the Lyon Office, were: - " The quartered coat of Caithness, with the cross ingrailed, dividing the quarters, all within a bordure gobonated gules and or; Crest, a naked arm issuing out of a cloud, grasping a small sword, with another lying by, all proper; Motto, Ille vincit, ego mereo:" The"bordure gobonated" is a distinctive mark of illegitimacy.

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