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BOOK I

INTRODUCTION

from "The St.Clair Papers":
"The Saint-Clairs figure prominently in history, song and story. In Normandy they controlled lands, castles and troops of men, and were closely allied to royal blood. At Hastings their prowess was conspicuous, and materially helped to decide the fate of that eventful day. They appear in the Battle Abbey Roll. Early in the eleventh century, William "le Blond" (the Seemly), second son of Waleran, Lord of Saint Clair, and Helena, daughter of Richard, Duke of Normandy, settled in Scotland; soon his name appears on the roll of the nobles of King Malcolm Canmore, and thenceforward for generations his descendants are found in loyal support of the Scottish monarchs, who trusted them implicitly through good and ill. Honoured with the confidence of the ancient Celtic line; entrusted with the royal fortress of Edinburgh during the war of the Scottish Succession; companions-in-arms of the patriot Bruce; in later times, the St.Clairs shared in the triumphs and humiliations of the House of Stuart, receiving honours on the one band, and on the other privation and exile. Reconciled to the union of Scotland with England, and to the Protestant Succession, they continued devotedly attached to royalty without exception, until the signal gun in the American War of Independence was fired; when the American hero supported the cause of Freedom, while those at Home sided with the motherland; but whether as Catholic or Protestant, monarchist or republican, always displaying a martial spirit, and ever true to the cause espoused.".

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.

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