Considering the revival of interest in family records in these learned latter years, it seems strange to have to admit that the history of so renowned a gens should still be unwritten. Such is nevertheless the case, and the present work is but an epitome of extracts taken from the most readily accessible sources, to be the pioneer for some future historian to present in an amplified form.
Although it was when rulers of the Orcades that the St.Clairs attained the zenith of their splendour, yet they are seldom mentioned in association with those Isles - the acquisition of which raised them to "pride of place" in the nobility of Scotland and of the three Scandinavian kingdoms.
The history of the St.Clairs and that of the Orcades being so inextricably interwoven, it has been thought well to begin this work with an account of the puissant House of Odin (eventually heired by the St.Clairs), the noblest and most heroic of the ruling dynasties of the North, and in the person of Rolf the Founder, originator of that dynasty on whose empire "the sun never sets". While it is incontestably established that the St.Clairs are representatives of Einar the Earl, brother of Rolf [from Orkneyinga Saga], it is contended by a modern writer [author of The Sinclairs of England] that as legitimate heirs-male of Malger, Count of Mortain and Corbeil, the eventual heir-male of Richard the Good, Duke of the Normans, they also represent Rolf himself; and it is further stated [in Hay's Genealogie] that they are heirs-of-line of Richard III of Normandy.
Having premised this much, it only remains to add that a work on the St.Clairs would be regrettably incomplete did it not contain all account of the notable deeds of their warlike predecessors, those "stout battellers" the ancient Scandinavian Jarls or Orkney, of Odinic descent, who will be described at some length, that readers not familiar with the history of those parts may the better understand the dominions and traditions heired by the St.Clairs.
In perusing the various works on the St.Clairs and on Orkney, it appears that those on the former, while ample in their notice of the name in the Scottish mainland, have but scanty, insufficient, and erroneous references to the St. Clairs of the Isles, and the works all Orkney are similarly defective in their notices of the St.Clairs, whether Orcadian or Scottish.
This volume will, therefore, attempt to in part remedy the defect, and it is as a tribute to the memory of the long-forgotten Orcadian descendants of the Earls - in historic interest, heroic achievement, and manly endeavour, the peers of their Scottish collaterals - that the present title has been chosen.
The chapters being arranged in chronological sequence, the plan of the work will unfold as read.