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THE ABLE ULBSTERS

SCOTLAND'S PROTO-STATISTICIAN, THE RIGHT HON. SIR JOHN SINCLAIR OF ULBSTER, BARONET, 1754-1835

Sir John Sinclair, only son of George Sinclair of Ulbster and Lady Janet, daughter of William Lord Strathnaver, of the House of Sutherland, was born at Thurso Castle on the 10th of May l754. He succeeded to the estates at the age of sixteen. Educated first under the tutorship of John Logan, the poet-divine, he passed through the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, completing at Trinity College, Oxford. In 1780 he was returned Member of Parliament for Caithness which he represented until 1811, when he vacated his seat. No less than 367 publications are said to have emanated from his pen, traversing all manner of topics, but chiefly in the nature of industrial, agricultural, or political advancement. Some of these have been of incalculable benefit to the empire. Most notable among them may be cited
"The History of the Revenue of the British Empire, 1784"
"The Statistical Account of Scotland, 1798"
"The Code of Health and Longevity"
"Code of Agriculture".

By his exertions the Board of Agriculture was formed in l793, of which he was president for thirteen years. He made a European tour in 1786, visiting the Courts of France, Holland, Prussia, Denmark, Russia, Sweden, etc., collecting much valuable information. In conversation at Warsaw with Stanislaus, King of Poland, the latter mentioned that the name of Sinclair was well known to him, especially in its Swedish connection, and King Gustavus remarked that in about sixty of the Scoto-Swedish nobility there were no less than three noble families of the name of Sinclair. Major Sternsward of Bugelholm, in Scanle, writes him in the same connection, 8th January 1808: "I hope the name of Sinclair, by valour eternised in Sweden, gives to this, its second native country, a proof of its wish, that the happiness of mankind may increase". Sir John was knighted in 1786, and in 1788 was created a baronet with remainder in default of male issue to the issue of his daughters. He had, in 1784, applied to Pitt for a baronetage, by virtue of being heir and representative of Sir George Sinclair of Clyth; and being then a widower with two daughters, he requested that the title should be descendible to them. As some reward for his public services, he was appointed Cashier of Excise, with an income of £2000 a year He died at Edinburgh on the 24th December 1835, in the 81st year of his age, and was buried in the Chapel Royal at Holyrood. In Caithness, which was a desert till his active spirit improved it, hundreds owe their success in life to his assistance at the outset. His sterling characteristics have been transmitted to his descendants, several of whom have attained meritorious eminence, viz.

NOTE - In a letter to Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, George Washington writes, "Certainly no good reason can be assigned why the hemp of New Zealand should not thrive with us, as that country lies in about the same southern latitude that our middle states do in the northern. " Phila. , 10th December 1796.

NOTE - A letter to Sir John from Robert Sinclair of Baltimore, Maryland, (30th November 1819), contains all account of the latter's parentage and family.

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