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I. EDWARD SINCLAIR OF ETHAY was the youngest of the eight sons of Sir William Sinclair of Roslin, enumerated in the entail of 1542, and has several appearances in the Roslyn Chartulary, where he is designed "of Dryden", e.g., in Lord Borthwick's retour of 1543 and Sasine thereon 1545. On the 4th July 1554, he is a witness to the retour of Roslin his brother; and at Roslin on the 1st November 1582, he witnesses a citation by his brother, Sir William Sinclair of Roslin, knight, for service upon James Lord Borthwick. On the 22nd December 1582, Mr. John Henryson is of Dryden, and again on 15th April 1584; while in the Bishopric Rental of 1595 it is noted that "The Isle of Ethay, set in feu by Adam, Bishop of Orkney (1562-1580), to Edward Sinclair, pays 5 lasts flesche [meat] and 16 pounds money". On 5th December 1561, Edward Sinclair [then at Kirkwall] brother to the Laird of Roslyn, had to find caution underly the law. Edward Sinclair of Ethay was brother-german [full brother] of Sir William Sinclair of Roslin. (Charter 28th October 1583). In the charge to landlords in Orkney and Shetland for good rule, 30th June 1597, he is assessed at 2,000 merks.

Patrick, Earl of Orkney, makes answer to complaint of William Sinclair, fiar [heir apparent] of Ethay, as follows, in September 1604: -

  1. The first head of the complaint, bearing that Henrie Blaik, captain of the Castle of Kirkwall, and others in the Earl's name, besieged William Sinclair in his dwelling-house, is not relevant; and even if it were, the Earl in this matter did no wrong, because the said William has often sought to take the life of his father, Edward Sinclair of Ethay, who is 100 years old or thereby, by shooting of hagbuts with bullets at him, and "niping him in the craig [neck] as he had been a dog, thinking to have worried him". Further, the said old decrepit man having desired the Earl to direct his precepts charging his said son to find lawburrows to him, the said Earl had given orders for his apprehension because he refused to find the said letters. It was quite competent to the Earl to act in the matter as he did, in respect he is sheriff of the shire, justice of the county, and lord of the regality. Again, the Earl did no wrong in seeking for the said William in his house and throughout the country, because the said William had been put to the horn [outlawed] at the instance of Thomas Black for not paying him certain sums of money, and the Earl had been charged as sheriff-principal of Orkney to apprehend him.
  2. As to the second head of the complaint, accusing the Earl of ejecting the said William and his family in September last furth of the lands of Holland, the same is civil, and the Lords of Secret Council are no judges therein; and as to the Earl imprisoning the complainer's wife, and John Patton, messenger in Kirkwall, they had liberty to leave at their pleasure; besides the complainer had no interest to pursue for Patton.
  3. As to the Earl's deforcing the said messenger, that part of the complaint is not relevant either; and if it were, the Lords of Secret Council are not judges to the deforcement.
  4. The complaint that in September last the Earl demolished the said William's house of Holland, spoiled his plenishing furth thereof, and ejected him out of the lands of Holland and Skaill, is also civil, and should be remitted to the ordinary judges, that is the Lords of Session. At that time the Earl was in Halie Island (Restalrig), in England.
  5. The complaint that the said William, when he had come to visit his father, had been stayed from landing by six or seven boats sent furth by the Earl, is not relevant. If it were, it could be proven that the complainer, accompanied by three or four score vagabonds - broken Highland men of Caithness, all armed "werilie", to have seized the lands of Ethay occupied by his father, and to have slain the father, or else caused him to render to him all he had. The father, fearing their invasion, had sent to the gentleman of the country desiring them to help in resisting the "wicked fury and barbarous enterprise" of the said William and his complices; "for of the country men of Caithness their barbarous enterprises long of before against the country of Orkney there remains that experience".
  6. Lastly, the complaint that the Earl caused the said William to subscribe an unlawful band, is not relevant, and if it were, is civil, and should be remitted to the judge ordinary.

In June 1605, Edward Sinclair of Ethay got letters against the Earl of Orkney that he should be put to liberty. He had issue:

  1. WILLIAM, fiar [heir apparent] of Ethay, his successor
  2. OLIVE
  4. JOHN - brothers to William Sinclair of Ethay
II WILLIAM SINCLAIR, SECOND OF ETHAY, is first noticed as fiar [heir apparent] of Ethie, on 30th June 1597, as one of the landlords in Orkney and Shetland cautioned for good rule. He is assessed at £1,000.

On the 13th June 1600, he obtained caution from Archibald Logan of Coltfield; and in June 1605, got letters against Patrick, Earl of Orkney, for oppression; and again on 6th September same got the latter put under caution of 5,000 merks not to harm him, Ethay, Janet Halcro his spouse, nor Aliesonn and Elspeth Sinclars his daughters. On the 11th July 1606, caution was taken that Oliver Sinclair, brother of William Sinclair, fiar [heir apparent] of Ethay, shall not harm his father, Edward Sinclair. The Earl of Orkney inhibits Sinclair of Eday, 10th June 1611; whom Sir John Arnot also inhibits on the 14th June; while on 26th November Earl Patrick makes process against William Sinclair of Ethay; and on the same day David Heart pursues Oliver Sinclair, his brother. On 30th May 1615, this William Sinclair of Ethay has a suit against William Sinclair of Warsetter; and on 12th June of the same he inhibits the latter. On 25th November 1612, Ethay sues Thomas Sinclair in Lopness, Sanday. In 1616 he and Jonet Halcro his spouse are mentioned; and on 10th April 1622, William Sinclair of Ethay, with his brother Gilbert and his [William's] son Gilbert. On 18th July 1623, Robert Elphingston of Hammigar makes cause against William Sinclair of Ethay and Jonet Halcrow his spouse; while on the 28th July William Sinclair of Warsetter sues William Sinclair of Ethay and John Sinclair his brother, etc. From this time he ceases to be enumerated as a gentleman suitor of the Earldom Court, nor are there any more notices of Sinclairs as of Ethay. He was married to Janet Halcro, and had issue:


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