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THE SINCLAIRS OF BREW, DUNROSSNESS

I. HENRY SINCLAIR OF HAVERA is noticed in the conveyance at Tyngwall 27th October 1525, when the granter, Thomas Olosone of Wrasettyr, states, "In witness of which thing, because I had no proper seal present, I have procured one and have given my full power to Nicoll Hawcro of Tygwall to procure the signet of a worshipful man Henry Sincleir of Hawere". [Goudie] He died in the year 1545, leaving by his wife Jean, daughter of William Sinclair of Houss, a son,

II OLAVE SINCLAIR OF HAVERA, who fought on the side of the Islesmen at Summerdale in 1529, obtaining a respite on 19th September, 1539, for same. He held a scuin session at Howeff on the 10th December 1546, at which he presided "an honourable man Olave Sinclayr of Havoray, head Fold of Shetland," whose seal Thorald Sutherland of Brucht, having none of his own, procured with great instance. [Peace's Almanac, 1886] He subsequently held the office of Great Fowde of Shetland; and on 17th July 1567, having failed to account to the Crown for the mails and rents of the Islands, he is ordered by the Privy Council to be put to the horn [outlawed] if he does not do so within twenty days. A Manuscript in the Advocates' Library states that in the reign of Queen Mary, his part of the country was several times invaded by Hutcheon Macleod of the Lewis, to avenge the death of his brother William, who, it is asserted, had been treacherously slain at the instigation of Oliver. During one of these raids no less than 60 persons were slain near Quendale, and Oliver himself only escaped by leaping over Sumburghhead, and landing on a piece of grass in the cleft in the rock, he received no further injury than the loss of an eye. On one of these occasions the Laird of Brew is stated to have defeated the Lewis-men on the Links of Sumburgh, between the Pool of Virkie and Grutness Voe, when they were slain to a man. [From Description of the Shetland Isles]

The scenes of conflict are still pointed out at the sandy shore at Scousburgh, where are the "Lewis Scords". It was this Laird of Brew who entertained James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, when he fled to Shetland in 1567, after the defeat of Queen Mary at Carberry Hill. Bothwell, Duke of Orkney, on arriving at Shetland, entered into a contract with Geert Hemelingk of Bremen, dated at Schvineborchovett, i.e. Sumburghhead, the 15th August A.D. 1567, for the hire of his ship, the "Pelican", and for another ship of a Hanseatic merchant then on the coast. Both ships were taken in command by Bothwell; along with the two smaller vessels in which he and his party had escaped from Scotland. Olaf Sinclair of Bru, designed as "Kemener und overste principall van Hidtland" gave a testimonial to Hemelingk's character as an honourable merchant in Shetland. Bothwell was at dinner with Olafe Sinclair when Kirkcaldy of Grange and the other pursuers arrived. Bothwell with the "Pelican" and his other ships, after a battle fought with his pursuers off the Shetland coast, was seized in Norway and detained a prisoner, and Hemelingk craved the intervention of the Bremen authorities for the restitution of his ship, and the payment of charter money due by Bothwell. The testimonial from Olaf Sinclair of Bru, the petition from Hemelingk, and the letter thereupon from the authorities at Bremen to Frederick II of Denmark are preserved in the Danish Royal Archives. [Goudie] Olave Sinclair, by his will dated 18th February 1570, divided his whole lands among his three sons, James, Mathew, and William: He died before 1579. By his wife Margaret, daughter of Alexander Baird, he had -

  1. JAMES, his heir.
  2. MATHEW of Ness. At Holyroodhouse, on 25th April 1573, the Aberdeen magistrates were ordered to search for and secure James (called Captain) Halkerston, Mathew Sinclair, and their complices, notorious pirates, who took a ship in Burntisland and harried the Shetlands, seizing the Kings proper rents and carried them to Aberdeen. He was murdered on 27th June 1602, by Francis Sinclair of Uyea and his brother, Robert Sinclair, both his nephews; John Bruce, servitor to Adam Sinclair of Brew; John, son to Laurence Sinclair of Goat; Laurence, son to William Sinclair of Ustaness; John Lindsay, servitor to Robert Sinclair, who were all found guilty of the crime before the Lawting Court at Scalloway on 16th August 1602, and being fugitive therefor, their whole goods, gear, and lands were forfeited. Garth Hemlein, the Bremen trader, was also suspected of complicity. He had a son -
    1. EDWARD, who succeeded him in Ness, and married Isabel Gordon.
  3. WILLIAM of Underhoull, for whom caution is required 3rd June 1573 - in which year a William Sinclair is Fowd of Shetland. He had on 5th March 1571, a charter under the Great Seal, as one of the heirs of his father, of 57 ½ merks land, including Bustay and Weatherstay, in the parish of Delting, 32 in Nesting, 21 in Whalsay, 44 ¼ in Yell, 241 ¼ including Underhoull and Uyea, in Unst, 5 ¾ in Fetlar, 2 in Bressay, 3 in Aithsting, 6 in Burray, 37 in Whiteness, 48 in Sandsting, and 6 in Dunrossness; in all 504 ¼ merks. As deputy of Cultmalindie he is charged, together with his nephew, Robert (Edward ?) of Ness, in 1575, with oppressing the inhabitants of the Isles of Unst and Yell; and on 15th February of that year he was ordained to find caution and lawburrows to the parishioners of Unst. 0n 7th February 1519, he granted a charter to his eldest son Francis, of the lands which belonged to his deceased father, Olave Sinclair of Brew. In 1579 he assigned certain lands to Sir James Hay, Vicar of Dust, as security for money lent. The deed contains all endorsement acknowledging the final repayment of 18th July 1580. He married Margaret, daughter of John Stewart, Prior of Coldingham (a natural son of King James V, and consequently half-brother of Queen Mary), who after his death married William Bruce of Sumburgh, (and after her death the latter married (2nd) 14th February 1595, Isabella, daughter of Sir James Spence of Wormiston, and sister to Sir James Spens, in 1627 created Baron Spens of Orreholmen, in Vestergotland), On the outlawry of his stepson Sumburgh obtained possession of the property of his marital predecessor, Underhoull. Underhoull had issue -
    1. FRANCIS of Uyea, found guilty of being art and part in the murder of his uncle, Mathew of the Ness, in 1602. On 30th Jane, 1597, he is ordained to find caution by the Privy Council to the amount of 500 merks to maintain good rule within his lands. He disponed 12 merks of his lands in Underhoull to James, son of the deceased Arthur Sinclair of Aith, by a charter dated at Edinburgh 4th February 1617; and on 9th August 1634, he witnesses a. charter by Erasmus Manson in Southsetter, in favour of Laurence Sinclair of Houss.
    2. ROBERT. This is probably the Robert Sinclar, "ensenzie" (ensign) to Captain Lawrence Sinkler, whom Jerhome Paintland, lieuteuant, is cautioned, 27th April 1605, in £500, not to harm while he remains in Scotland. He was also found guilty of the murder of his uncle Mathew. Outlawed as above-mentioned, Francis and Robert Sinclair, following their own courses, fell into evil habits and bad company in Scotland, resulting in poverty, discord, and litigation. This appears from a process at later date by James Sinclair of Scalloway against Andrew Bruce of Muness. [Goudie]
    3. JAMES.
    4. KATHERINE.
    5. MARGARET.
  1. BARBARA, married Adam Neven of Scousburgh.
  2. --, married Richard Leask, who was slain at the door of Sandwick Church by a servant of Henry Sinclair of Sandwick.

III JAMES SINCLAIR OF BREW is probably the Sir James Sinclair, notary public at Scalloway, who affixes his seal to a conveyance dated 27th July 1567. He granted a discharge in 1588 to Laurence Bruce of Cultmalindie for the sum of £200 scots, being part of a sum of £1,100 of tocher [dower] of the latter's daughter. He married Janet, daughter of Laurence Sinclair of Sandes, and had issue -

  1. ADAM, his heir.
  2. MALCOLM [of Quendal].
  3. LAURENCE [of Goat].
  4. JAMES [of Bul1ister].
  1. MARGARET, married James Sinclair of Scalloway.
  2. JEAN.

IV ADAM SINCLAIR OF BREW was also charged with the murder of his uncle, Mathew Sinclair of Ness, and by a separate action at the instance of Robert Sinclair of Campston and Edward Scollay of Strynes, on 23rd August 1602, he was found guilty by the Assize who "discerned the said Adam's whole moveabilities, goods and gear with his whole heritable lands and possessions to be escheit, and himself beneist the country within the space of 15 days, and if he be apprehended thereafter to be taken to the heading-hill of Scalloway Banks, and there his head to be taken and strickin from his body in example of others". Four days previous he had sustained a criminal process for wrongous and violent intromission with goods of a broken Dutch ship, without leave of the owner, or any commission from my Lord his deputes or the Foud of the parish; "the Assize taking this to consideration, and trying him to have committed great wrong and oppression thereunto, they all in ane vote decernis the said Adam, with his whole moveable goods and gear, in my Lords will therefore, in example of others, reserving place to satisfy the party" Neither sentence was carried out, and he appears to have continued to possess his lands. On 6th June 1597, he is ordained by the Privy Council to find caution to the extent of £1,000 for good rule within the same. Further, on 1st October 1611, he is charged with others before the said Council with having as a servant of the Earl of Orkney committed all kinds of iniquity and wickedness, and was denounced a rebel. He died in 1627, having married (first) in 1588 Helen, daughter of Laurence Bruce of Cultmalindie, and had issue -

  1. LAURENCE, his heir.
  2. JAMES, afterwards of Brew.
  3. MALCOLM
  1. JANE, married James Kelman, an officer in the army of Montrose, and had issue.
  2. BARBARA, married (1628) John Sinclair of Quendale.
  3. HELEN.

V LAURENCE SINCLAIR OF BREW disponed in 1639 to his eldest son William, five score 14 merks 6 pennies the merk in Brew, 10 merks in Whilygairth adjacent, 47 merks in the said town and among the lands of Brew adjacent thereto belonging to the Kirk and the King, and the Lordis of Norroway, all in the parish of Dunrossness. He appears to have been succeeded by his brother.

VI JAMES SINCLAIR of BREW, who died 8th August 1645, having married (first) Grizel Halcro, and (second) Elizabeth, daughter of Patrick Cheyne of Esselmont, and had issue -

  1. ADAM, his heir.
  2. MALCOLM.
  3. LAURENCE.
  4. ARTHUR.
  1. URSILLA, married William Bruce.
  2. JANET.

VII ADAM SINCLAIR OF BREW, died 1686, having married Jean, daughter of Captain Andrew Dick of Fracafield, and had issue -

  1. CHARLES, his heir.
  2. LAURENCE.
  3. JAMES.
  4. ARTHUR.
  1. MARGARET, married James Mowat.
  2. BARBARA.

VIII CHARLES SINCLAIR OF BREW, died 1734, married Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Robertson of Gossaburgh, and had issue -

  1. ALEXANDER, his heir.
  2. ARTHUR.
  3. ADAM.
  4. ROBERT, married 3rd February 1734, Charlotte, daughter of Sir John Mitchell, Baronet
  1. JEAN, married 2nd December 1740, John McIntosh, merchant.
  2. MARION, married 4th February 1742, Charles Leslie.
  3. JANET, married James Craigie.
  4. ELIZABETH.

IX ALEXANDER SINCLAIR OF BREW succeeded his father in the estate, which had by this time become to a large extent overblown with sand, the rental of the whole being then only £206 scots. He died 20th November 1759, having married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Mitchell, Baronet, of Westshore, and had issue -

  1. JOHN CHARLES, baptised 29th January 1727.
  2. OLA, born 13th July 1746.
  3. ARTHUR, his heir.
  1. ANN, baptised 26th March 1730.
  2. ELIZABETH, baptised 9th April 1731, died young.
  3. ANDRINA, baptised 14th May 1732.
  4. JEAN, baptised 19th May 1734
  5. JANET, baptised 10th December 1735
  6. ELIZABETH, baptised 5th January 1738; married 10th January 1769, William Henderson in Papay.
  7. PHILADELPHIA, born 2nd May 1739
  8. GIFFORD, born 18th November 1740.
  9. CRAIGIE, born 7th February 1743; alive in 1832
  10. MARGARET, married Alexander Fraser in Scalloway.
  11. BARBARA, married Andrew Craigie.
X ARTHUR SINCLAIR, LAST OF BREW, succeeded to a heavily encumbered estate, which on 24th January 1770, was adjudged from him by Sir John Mitchell, last of Westshore. He married Janet, daughter of Laurence Tarrel, merchant, Lerwick, and had issue -
  1. JAMES
  2. ELIZABETH MITCHELL married 21st April 1795, William Thomas Craigie, merchant of Leith, second son of James Craigie of Stebbiegrind.
  3. JANET

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