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THE SINCLAIRS OF DAMSAY

I. HUGH SINCLAIR OF DAMSAY was a brother of Campston and Ness. He had lands scattered all over the Earldom. There are numerous notices of him.

He is apparently the Hew Sinclair, tacksman of Stromness for Wosterwoy in 1613, who will not compear with the Tacksman of Sandwick for the roume of Newgair, etc., and may be the Hew Sinclair, merchant in Kirkwall, who with William Sinclair of Greenwall, sues Donald Stewart of Brugh 24th February 1617, and who on the 7th January 1617 had with other Sinclairs made suit against James Stewart of Gramsay and others, On 18th February 1618, this Hew, the merchant, is on an Assise for "riot and blodshed".

On 9th November 1618, Hew Sinclair, merchant in Kirkwall, brother-german [full brother] to Campston, and Jonet Sventone, his spouse, with William Sinclair of Greenwall, are mentioned. On 2nd January 1621, Hew was on the Assise to try John Learie for the "Thefteous stealing of a quhyt [white] yeik ewe, of a kaidie (pet) lamb, etc."; and on the 5th idem, became security for Alexander Flett in How, Harray. On the 27th December same he produced a charter from Michael Balfour of Garth, with consent of Margaret Sinclair, his spouse of lands and houses of Swarttmaill in Skeldwik, in Westray, etc.; and on the 28th February 1622, a charter of Alienation made by The Right Hon. Hew Halcro of that Ilk [of Halcro] to Hew and Jonet his spouse and longest liver of them the houses and lands of Beanzeaquoy, in the parish of Firth. On 25th July 1622, he is noted as owning Fealquoy (Evie) Kingshous and lands in Bimbuster, both in Harray, and many other properties all over the Earldom, acquired from Robert Monteith of Egilsay.

On 4th November 1623, and 25th January 1624, Hew Sinclair of Kingshouse is present as a Suitor of Court; on 7th June 1623, Hew Sinclair, merchant burgess of Kirkwall, in in the matter of lands of St.Ola, etc.; in 1627 he owns Cloike in Birsay, and on the 24th April same became cautioner for Robert Sinclair of Campston, his brother-german [full brother].

On 3rd May 1631, amongst the suitors present are Hew Sinclair for his lands of Kingshouse, Hew Sinclair of Damsay, etc., but these are evidently one and the same person. On the 8th June 1632, on the Assise against Scollay, there are inter alia, Hew Sinclair of Damsay (Chancellor), John Sinclair (merchant in Kirkwall), Hew Sinclair of Yairphay, etc. In 1640 he is constituted bailie for Firth. On 15th April 1614, a contract is completed at Rantibester between "Thomas Swenton, Archdeane of Orkney, and minister of God's Word at Kirkwall", taking burden on him for his "daughter Jonet Swenton," and Hew Sinclair of Damsay, son of the late Robert Sinclair of Campston. These young persons bound themselves to solemnise "the bond of matrimony in face of holy kirk with all solemnities due as effeirs," and Jonet had a tocher [dower] of six hundred merks.

In 1642, Orphir, Smewgro, Cowbister, and Orokirk are now feued and in the possession of Hew Sinclair of Damsay, also Ryssay in Walls, and North Witfirth in St.Ola. Damsay appears as a Suitor in 1638 and 1640, and on 19th January 1641, for his lands there, and in Overbrugh in Harray, June 23rd, 1645, he assigns a toft [land once tilled, but abandoned] in Skabra in Sandwick to his son-in-law Andrew Linklater. January 31st, 1648, he exchanges Fealquoy, Cloike, etc., with David McClellane of Wodwick, Chamberlain of Orkney for Kirbuster in Orphir. On 16th January 1649, George, son to William Sinclair of Damsay, witnessed a deed between James Louttit of Mirbuster and John Louttit of Corrigill. In 1651 Damsay, with others, is sued by Edward Sinclair of Gyre.

He appears in the Valuation of 1653 as owning lands in all parts of the Earldom - Stromness, St.Andrew's, St.Ola, Orphir, Sandwick, Harray, Birsay, Firth, Walls, Rousay, etc. On the 19th May 1658, he sued Patrick Sinclair, his eldest son, and others. Soon after this he died. In the "County Families of the Shetland Isles" it is noted that Katherine Mouat of the Garth family was married to Hew Sinclair of Damsay, but this does not receive support from any of the foregoing notices. He was married to Jonet Swinton, daughter of Thomas Swinton, Archdeacon of Orkney, and left issue -

  1. PATRICK, who succeeded him.
  2. THOMAS.
  3. DAVID.
  4. AGNES, who married Andre Linklater, of Benziecht, which is mentioned 26th April 1677, as having been sometime life-rented to her.

II PATRICK SINCLAIR, SECOND OF DAMSAY, appears als of his father Hew in 1558; on 16th September, 1661, of his brothers Thomas and David, sons to the umquhile [deceased] Hew Sinclair of Damsay, for their interest, etc.; and on 6th January 1664, Patrick most ungallantly sues Jean Bellenden, his spouse, while on the same day Patrick Craigie, ex Provost [chief magistrate] of Kirkwall, sues Patrick Sinclair of Damsay, Edward Sinclair in Booabrek, in Quhome, and others.

THOMAS SINCLAIR OF SMOOGROW was perhaps a son of Hew of Damsay, who had held that place. On the 10th September, 1675, John Henry, minister of Orphir, sued Thomas Sinclair of Smoogrow, Sibilla, relict of Hew Sinclair, Robert Sinclair, his son, etc. On the 26th April 1677, compeared James, only son to Francis Gordon, Baillie of Stromness, as procurator for Barbara Gordon, spouse to Thomas Sinclair of Smowgrow, holding charter of Liferent made by said Thomas to her of his houses and lands of Smowgrow, etc., in Orphir. On the 18th July following he is a witness, and on 19th August 1687, the lands of Smowgrow and Cowbuster belong to Thomas Sinclair and his aforesaid spouse, On the 10th July 1706, William Halcro is designed of Cowbuster. His brother was

DAVID SINCLAIR OF RYSSAY, apparently third son of Hew of Damsay.

On 25th February 1662, David was sued, inter alia, by Robert Jack, merchant burgess of Edinburgh; on 10th August 1665, he is sued by R. Graham, merchant burgess of Edinburgh, for his bond of date 17th August 1664, for £818 scots, and inhibited. David Bellenden, brother of Stonehouse, put this to the horn [outlawed]. On 9th November 1668, compeared David Sinclair of Ryssay, heritable proprietor of lands near Stromness, and sells "sum faddoms" near the "Boatisnewst" to John Brown in Stromness and his spouse Katherine Cromartie.

On 27th July 1669, Rev. James Henrie of Orphir produced charter of lands from David Sinclair of Ryssay. August 4th, 1675, produced Precept of Sasine made by Ryssay and Elisabeth Johnston, his spouse, for infefting William Davison, Writer [lawyer] in Kirkwall, in certain parts of the lands of Ryssay, because they could not repay that cash which they had borrowed from him. On 13th May 1676, he sued Thomas Wilson of Hunclett for £3,122 scots, and on 9th April 1677, Francis and John, sons to James Mudie of Melsetter. On 26th December 1677, compeared Robert Tulloch, indweller in Cowbuster, as procurator for George, second son to David Sinclair of Ryssay, holding Disposition, etc., made by said David to said George and his heirs, whom failing to his assignees; whom all failing (as God forbid) to his own nearest heires, his lands of Old and New Ness, Stromness, saving liferent to said David, and Elizabeth Johnston, his spouse.

On 24th September, 1696, Ryssay was sued for 100 merks scots by Patrick Traill, mariner in Leith, and inhibited thereon the 17th November following. On 12th May 1697, James Gray in Foubister, and his spouse Anna, brother's daughter to John Groat of Fleck, sued Ryssay, etc., and finally on 6th December 1736, "Forasmuch as the now deceased David Sinclair of Ryssay and Elizabeth Johnston, spouses, by their Bond of 17th June 1675 (63 years previous) borrowed from the also deceased John Groat of Fleik 309 merks Scots, to be repaid at Whitsunday thereafter with interest if not then paid, and to infeft the said John Groat in lands in Orakirk, Orphir, Redeemable however. William Halcro, younger of Coubister; has paid and got reversion and lands, etc., etc." He had issue -

  1. GEORGE
  2. JOHN

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