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THE SINCLAIRS OF HOUSS, AITH, AND SCALLOWAY, BURRAY, ETC.

I. WILLIAM SINCLAIR OF Houss must have been born about 1460. He fought at Summerdale on 18th May 1529, for which he was respited on the 19th September 1539. He died in 1539, and is said to have married Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Sinclair of Dunbeath in Caithness, but the dates do not admit of such a supposition. He had issue -
  1. MAGNUS, his heir.
  2. LAWRENCE (perhaps of Norbister)
  3. JEAN, born cir 1485, married Henry Sinclair of Havera.
  4. ELIZABETH.

II MAGNUS SINCLAIR OF Houss may be the Magnus Sinclare respited for having also fought at Summerdale in 1529. "Mawnyss Sinclar, ane worschipfull man," appends his seal as witness to a conveyance executed at Tygwall in Schetland the 27th October 1525. Mawnis Sinclair of Howss affixes seal as witness to grant by Iggabrocht Kotrinsdocther in favour of Gylbert Kant of Brecht made at St. Lorence Kyrk of Burray 11th March 1547. [Goudie] He married Janet, daughter of William Keith, and died in 1557.

III LORENCE SINCLAIR OF NORBISTER, attested execution of the deed by Ingaborg on the 11th March 1547. He married Marion Katell, and had issue -

  1. JAMES SINCLAIR of Norbister, who had issue -
    1. MARGARET, married Robert Tulloch, in Warbister, Burray, and died March 1623, leaving issue.
    2. CATHERINE, mother of Andrew Thomason.
Margaret and Catherine, as heirs portioners of their father, on 25th October 1609, disponed their four merks land in the Isle of Halvery to Laurence Sinclair of Houss.

Lorence Sinclair of Norbister (with consent of his son and lawful heir James Sinclair, and of Marion Katell bis wife, mother of the said James) disponed on 3rd July 1560, to his brother

III LAWRANSS SINCLAR OF SANDES, Burgess of Kirkwall, the lands of Houss in Burray. How the two Laureuces were brothers does not appear, but the documents are explicit in so describing them. He witnesses a deed at Scalloway 27th July 1567. [Goudie] Laurence of Sandes married Janet Strang, who survived him, and had issue -

  1. ARTHUR, his heir.
  2. EDWARD of Scalloway, who on 21St August 1580, granted a charter of 3 merks in Houss with consent of Barbara Mowat, his spouse, to his hrother-german [full brother] Arthur Sinclair of Aith.
  3. DAVID of Hunton, in Orkney, which lands he acquired 1588 (Register of the Great Seal), father of
    1. JOHN
    2. CHRISTIAN, who married James Strang of Voesgarth, who thus acquired the 18 merks of land in Melby known as "The Sinclair's Last". Hunton was one of those complaining against the Balfours 23rd December 1597. A David Sinclair is Four of Burray in 1603.
  4. JAMES of Mail (died 23rd May 1622), married Margaret Harcus, and had issue -
    1. JAMES, who disponed the lands of Mail (26th June 1622) to his brother Hew.
    2. HEW of Mail, who, on 14th August 1620, granted a charter to Laurence Sinclair of Houss of lands in the island of West Burray.
    3. MICHAEL, perhaps father of Margaret, married to Gilbert Gifford of Uphouse.
    4. EDWARD.
    5. THOMAS.
    6. JANET
    7. POLL
  5. WILLIAM of Ustaness, "an honourable man", whose signet Colbein Ormeson "procures with great instance", 20th November 1581. On 30th June 1597, he was ordained by the Privy Council to find caution for 2,000 merks, to maintain good order within his land. On 23rd December 1597, he is one of the complainants against the Balfours. He died December 1610, having married Elizabeth Sinclair (perhaps daughter of Alexander Sinclair of Dunbeath), and had issue -
    1. LAURENCE of Ustaness, found guilty 16th August 1602, of being art and part in the murder of Mathew Sinclair of Ness, and on 1st October 1611, charged along with others before the Privy Council with having, as a servant of Patrick, Earl of Orkney, committed all kinds of wickedness and iniquity. As he failed to appear he was denounced rebel. He had issue -
      1. CAPTAIN WILLIAM, his eldest son, a witness along with his father to a charter by Nichol Rattray in Collasetter, to Patrick Cheyne of Vaila, on 17th June 1637, probably identical with Colonel William Sinclair in charge of Fort Charlotte, Lerwick, 1665, and with Colonel William Sinclair, who was a Commissioner of Supply for Shetland in 1667;
      2. ROBERT
  6. OLAVE of Norbie, called father's brother to Laurence Sinclair of Ustaness in a charter by the latter to him on 24th September, 1622, of the four merks land of Watsness and Swenester, in Walls. He died April 1632, leaving issue -
    1. LAURENCE in Suthahouse, who with his brother Henry was a witness to the sasine of his father in the lands of Watsness, 8th October 1622. He was probably grandfather of
      1. LAURENCE SINCLAIR, portioner of Norbie, who disponed 4 merks of land in Norbie to James Mitchell of Girlesta on 27th September 1716, with consent of his spouse Ingagerth Walter's daughter
        1. WALTER SINCLAIR, his eldest son
    2. HENRY of Swenester, who had a son
      1. JOHN, father of
        1. HENRY, whose only surviving daughter
          1. ELIZABETH married Thomas Robertson in Crawton, in Sandness, and disponed her 4 merks of Swenester to John Scott of Melby, 20th November 1802.
    3. ARTHUR
    4. ROBERT
    5. DANIEL
    6. JEROME
  1. ORSELLA, who along with her five brothers, disponed their 21 merks land in Hellywick in Burray to their brother Arthur Sinclair of Aith on 16th August 1587. She will be the Ursilla Sinclair married to the Rev. James Pitcairn, Vicar of Northtmaven in 1578, to which he was then presented by King James VI
  2. JANET, married James Sinclair of Brew.

V ARTHUR SINCLAIR OF AITH was Sheriff of Shetland in 1572. He presented the Bill of Complaint against Laurence Bruce of Cultmalindie in 1576, in which he states that "he (A.S.) and his forebears have had the tack and rowme of the land lying in the parish of Dunrossness, extending to 32 merk land, with 18 merk land in Ayth". He further declares that he possesses the heritable title to St.Ninian's Isle in Dunrossness. Various acquisitions of land by him are enumerated, extending from 1572 to 1617. On one occasion he pays as much as £2,000 scots, while on another he dispones a small allotment of 16ft. x 40ft. "within the bounds of Scalloway" for a certain sum paid to him in his "urgent necessity". This was in 1592, only one year after he had acquired the "town of Scalloway". On 30th June 1597, he was ordained by the Privy Council to find caution for good rule within his lands to the extent of 2,000 merks. On 23rd December 1597, he is one of those who prefer the complaint against the Balfours. His territorial designation of Aith was not perpetuated, and thus he has ceased to be remembered. He is, however, entitled in the history of the Islands to be regarded as the foremost of native patriots. [Goudie] He held in tack [lease] the Vicarage of Unst. He received a charter from Adam Sinclair of Brew on 1st August 1617, and died soon after, having married Margaret Colville, and had issue -

  1. LAURENCE, his heir
  2. JAMES of Scalloway (see Number VIII)
  3. WILLIAM, witness to a charter by Nicoll Thomeson in Blowstay, to his father, of lands in Isle of Trondra, 19th April 1615, probably identical with William of Reawick, who married Mary Bruce.
  1. MARGARET, married Magnus Henderson of Buness
  2. JANET.

NOTE - Henderson of Buness, Unst. - This family derives from Hendrich Hendrichson, Great Foud, Lawman, and Chancellor of Shetland, whose commission, granted by King Christian I of Denmark, in the year 1450, and written in the Danish language, is said to have been in the possession of James Henderson, last of Gardie, died 1799, and to have been presented by Thomas Mount of Garth in 1792, along with all the old papers of the family to a Swedish knight.

VI LAURENCE SINCLAIR of Houss had a disposition from Robert, Earl of Orkney, on 15th August 1588, of the lands of St.Ninian's Isle in Dunrossness. The Wemyss, Lawrence Sinclair, fiar [heir apparent] of Aith, etc., lodge a complaint against the bailies of Dysart, 17th February 1607, which was disallowed; and on the 31st March following the bailies lodge a counter complaint. On 21st January 1612, he and his brother James, with some forty retainers, are charged before the Privy Council with assaulting Robert Bruce, son of William Bruce of Symbister. He was served heir to his father, 17th August 1632, married Elizabeth Sinclair, who died in February 1634. and had issue -

  1. ARTHUR, his heir.
  2. JOHN
  3. GEORGE
  4. LAURENCE
  5. GRIZEL
  6. MARGARET
  7. BARBARA
  8. ELIZABETH
  9. HELEN
  10. ANNA

VII ARTHUR SINCLAIR of Houss served heir to his grandfather, 17th October 1634. The estate, as specified in the deed, is very extensive, comprehending Houss and other places in the Isles of Burray, and numerous lands in Duurossness, Tingwall, Whiteness, Weisdale, and Bressay. The Dunrossness property is described as "five lie lasts of the lands of Brow," i.e. 90 merks in all. He died 15th Novernber 1667, having married Barbara, daughter of Arthur Barclay of Boghills, and had issue -

  1. ARTHUR, died young.
  2. GRIZEL, married her cousin Arthur Sinclair, son of

JAMES SINCLAIR OF SCALLOWAY, second son of Arthur Sinclair of Aith, who had received charter from his brother Laurence of the Kirkland of Scalloway, which had been disponed by the deceased Patrick Cheyne to Robert --, and by him to uniquhile Arthur Sinclair, their father, on 6th December 1619. He was a Commissioner of Supply for Shetland in 1661 and 1667. He married (first) Margaret, daughter of James Sinclair of Brew, and (second) Margaret, daughter of George Smelholme, merchant in Leith, and had issue -

  1. GEORGE, died young.
  2. JOHN, died young.
  3. ARTHUR, his heir.
  1. MARGARET (died 28th April r646), married Laurence Sinclair of Brough.
  2. ELIZABETH, married 1646 William Bruce of Sumburgh and died during fatherís lifetime

IX ARTHUR SINCLAIR OF SCALLOWAY succeeded his father therein, and by his marriage with his cousin, GRIZEL SINCLAIR of Houss, he also acquired that property. He was a Commissioner of Supply for Shetland in 1678. He had issue -
  1. ARTHUR, his heir
  2. CHARLES (see Number XII)
  3. LAURENCE of Sandsound, father of JOHN and CATHERINE
  4. MARGARET, married Andrew Bruce, tutor of Muness, who died 1696.

X ARTHUR SINCLAIR OF SCALLOWAY, married, 1692, Katherine, daughter of Laureuce Bruce of Symbister, and had issue -

  1. ARTHUR, his heir.
  2. BARBARA, married James Mitchell of Girlesta.

XI ARTHUR SINCLAIR OF SCALLOWAY, bound apprentice to Alexander Guthrie, W.S., in June 1704, died 30th December 1705. On 20th November 1692, this Arthur was served heir to his grand uncle, James Smelholme. He was succeeded by his uncle

XII CHARLES SINCLAIR OF SCALLOWAY, to whom, in 1706, his mother Grizel Sinclair disponed the lands of Houss. He died at Edinburgh 3rd July 1710, having married Katherine, daughter of Robert Bruce of Sumburg h, and had issue -

  1. ARTHUR, next of Scalloway.
  2. ROBERT, his heir.
  3. LAURENCE.

XIII ARTHUR SINCLAIR OF SCALLOWAY was drowned going to college at Aberdeen in 1716.

XIV ROBERT SINCLAIR OF SCALLOWAY, born 1702, was served heir to his father on 9th July 1728, and died 3rd January 1741. He married (first), in 1721, Philadelpliia, daughter of Sir John Dalmahay, Baronet, of that Ilk [of Dalmahay], and had issue one son and two daughters -

  1. JAMES, his heir.
  2. ANNE, born 1722, died 1757, married (contract dated 19th January 1748) John Scott of Melby.
  3. KATHERINE, died 27th August 1772; married in 1750 James Scott, merchant, afterwards of Scalloway

Robert Sinclair married (second) Barbara, daughter of John Montgomery of Wrae, but had no issue. His widow re-married Robert Sinclair of Quendale. An epitaph in Latin and an elegy were composed on the occasion of his death by the Rev. John Skinner, Episcopal clergyman, at one time tutor in the family. They appear in the collected edition (Aberdeen, 1809), of the works of the author who was father of Bishop Skinner, well-known as composer of the "Reel of Tullochgorum".

XV JAMES SINCLAIR, LAST OF SCALLOWAY AND HOUSS, born 16th August 1726, died August 1762, unmarried. In a deed of 1760 he is designed "great grandson and only heir of the deceased Arthur Sinclair of Houss, heritor [landowner] and udaller". He was succeeded by his sister Katherine and his niece Philadelphia, daughter of John Scott of Melby, by whom the estate was disponed on 30th April 1771, to James Scott, merchant in Scalloway, husband of the said Katherine Sinclair.

Trondra and the Burray Isles were long owned by the Sinclairs of Houss, an ancient family descended from the Orkney Earls.

Houss is in the Isle of Burray; Aith in Aithsting or Cunningsburgh; and Scalloway in Tingwall. Carrick Pursuivant perused no less than 535 deeds in connection with this family alone. One of the instruments is a Commission by Christian IV of Denmark to Magnus Sinclair, captain of the "Leoparden", bearing date 21st April 1627, at the Palace of Copenhagen. Mogens Sinclair is written over a previously deleted name, which appears to be Mogens Davidszen.

ARMS, see the St.Clair Armoury.

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