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CHAPTER XI

THE LORDS SINCLAIR - HERDMANSTON LINE

[from Burke's Peerage; Douglas's Peerage; Debrett, etc.]

XI HENRY ST.CLAIR OF HERDMANSTON, 11th Lord Sinclair, with a view to favour his father's family, obtained from King Charles II, on 1st June 1677, a new patent of the Sinclair peerage, with a remainder to the heirs-male of his father in default of the male issue of his own body, thereby bringing a totally different family into the succession, to the prejudice of the heirs-of-line of his own body.

NOTE - A Scottish Peerage could, down to the Union, be resigned into the hands of the King to be re-granted to a new series of heirs, a transaction to which the heir alioqui successurus had no right to object, and which was completed by a Crown charter of resignation.

The new patent conferred all the honours, dignities, and precedency in Parliaments and General Assemblies of the States, as fully and freely as the said title was enjoyed by John, 10th Lord, or any of his predecessors. [See case for Charles Saintclair, Esq., claiming the title of Lord Sinclair, 1782, folio]

Henry St.Clair did not, however, on obtaining this new patent resign the old Sinclair peerage to the Crown, which accordingly is presumed to still exist unaffected by the remainder in the new patent, and the claim to which is, according to Burke's Peerage, vested in the heir-of-line of the 11th Lord, on the ground that the Barony of Sinclair was a lesser dignity enjoyed by the Earl of Orkney and Caithness, and the succession to which would follow that of the higher titles, and that the Caithness succession was to heirs-general.

In this view Burke is clearly wrong in taking the Caithness dignity as the basis of his reasoning, for the Barony of Sinclair would follow the Orcadian succession, and a reference to the Installation documents of Henry I, Earl of Orkney, will show implied provision for heirs-male, but not for heirs-general; and the instrument of 1391 executed by Elisabeth Lady Drummond indicates the intention to limit succession to males.

This is still further supported by the records of the Privy Council 15th July 1681. "On that date, a Committee having been named to order and adjust the differences in riding the ensuing Parliament, the Lord Sinclair put in his claim for precedency before many old lords (and particularly my Lord Semple, who by the decreet of ranking apud me [Sir John Lauder of Fountainhall] in 1606 is placed before him). He was opposed as only being descended of the last Lord's daughter, and though the patent bore haeredibus in general, yet that in the old feudal construction signified only airs male, and so he could not claim their place, but only came in as a lord of a new creation. Some advised him to forbear riding at this time; however, the Council declared they would continue him in his possession till in a declarator he was postponed to these other competitors, and accordingly he took precedency in the Parliament, and voted before them: but as Sinclar rode up first, so Semple rode down the way first; and Sinclar was more at this time a follower of York's than Semple was".

This Baron obtained a State pardon on the 2nd March 1685; and in 1689 was the only member of the British Peerage who dared to make an energetic protest against William, Prince of Orange, coming to the throne of the Stuarts. [from The Sinclairs of England]

He married, in 1680, Grizel, daughter of Sir James Cockburn, baronet of Cockburn, and died in 1723, leaving issue -

  1. JOHN, Master [heir apparent] of Sinclair
  2. JAMES, rightful 12th Lord
  3. MAJOR WILLIAM, died in London unmarried
  4. DAVID, died during his fatherís lifetime, unmarried, at Aix-la-Chapelle
  5. HENRY, died January 1766, unmarried
  6. MATTHEW, died April 1747, unmarried
NOTE - It is not clear whether Major William St.Clair and his brother David survived Lord James, but Henry, the fifth son did.
  1. GRIZEL, married John Paterson of Prestonhall, eldest son of the last Archbishop of Glasgow, and had -
    1. COLONEL JAMES PATERSON, who succeeded to the Dysart and Roslyn estates, assumed the suffix surname of St.Clair, and died unmarried at Dysart, 14th May 1789
    2. MARGARET, married John Thomson of Charleton, County Fife and had GRIZEL MARIA THOMSON, married Colonel John Austruther, whose grandson, John Austruther-Thomson, Esq., is representative find heir-of-line of the 11th Lord
  2. CATHARINE, married Sir William Erskine, Baronet of Alva, and had issue -
    1. SIR HENRY ERSKINE, married Janet, sister to Alexander Wedderburn, Lord Chancellor, Lord Loughborough, and Earl of Rosslyn, to which title Sir Henry's son Sir James succeeded, and also by a special destination to the estates of Dysart and Roslyn, on the death of his fathers cousin, Colonel James Paterson St.Clair of Sinclair and Dysart. He thereupon assumed the prefix surname of St.Clair, and is ancestor of the St.Clair-Erskines, Earls of Rosslyn.
  3. MARGARET, married Sir William Baird, Baronet of Newhythe. Her son died without issue
  4. ELIZABETH, married David, 3rd Earl of Wemyss and had issue two daughters -
    1. ELIZABETH, Countess of Sutherland
    2. Mary, Countess of Moray
  5. ANNE
JOHN, MASTER OF SINCLAIR, was engaged in the "Rising" of 1715, for which he was attainted, and though he outlived his father never assumed the title of Lord Sinclair. He married, first, Lady Margaret, daughter of James Stewart, 5th Earl of Galloway; and secondly, Amelia, daughter of Lord George Murray and sister to the 3rd Duke of Atholl. He had no issue by either wife.

He has been affiliated by C.F. Baron de St. Clair as father of Charles Gideon Baron de St.Clair, Colonel commanding the Royal Swedish Regiment, who after having consecrated his life to the service of the kings of France, was sacrificed at Dijon 29th January 1793, the victim of his devotion for Louis XVI The Baron was celebrated in Sweden as a military tactician, where he died without issue but Charles Ferdinand, Baron de St.Clair, colonel de cavalerie, who figured remarkably about the assassination of the Duc de Berri, claims the Swede as sire.

He warned the authorities of the conspiracy in time, but was rewarded with imprisonment. His papers are published in book form, and illustrate a military career of twenty-three years' service, in which he received eighteen wounds and won innumerable decorations, his field of action comprehending the Rhine, the Conde, the Antilles, England, Holland, Egypt, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Russia, and Germany. [from The Sinclairs of England]

The Master of Sinclair died in 1750.

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