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THE SINCLAIRS OF WARSETTER, SANDAY

I. SIR WILLIAM SINCLAIR, KNIGHT, FIRST OF WARSETTER, was a son of "William the Waster", the disinherited Master of Orkney (ancestor of all subsequent Lords Sinclair of Ravenscraig). In the 1497 "Rental of my Lord Sinclair that died at Flodden", William Sinclair, my Lordís brother, is recorded as holding many lands in Westray, while in 1502 he appears a large owner of lands in Sanday, and is styled SIR William Sinclair. Sir David Sinclair, the Foud of Shetland, in 1506 bequeathed to Sir William Sincler, the Knight, his "doublet of cloth of gold and my gray satin gown with three ostrich feathers". He acquired the lands of Tohop from Nicol Fraser, and the purchase was confirmed in 1514 by an adjudication of the Orcadian Lawting. The decree refers to him as "a noble and potent man Sir William Sinclair of Warsetter, knight". About the same time he took by storm Noltland Castle in Westray, to which he probably had a possessive right, but was required to restore it to Dr. Stewart, the then episcopal owner. He married Helene, daughter of George, second Earl of Huntly, by Annabella, Princess of Scotland. In the Register of the Great Seal there is on the 13th May 1527, entry of a charter to Lady Helene Gordone, relict of quondam [the deceased] Sir William Sinclair of Warsetter, knight, now spouse of David Hepburn - lands in Newburgh. Sir William was presumably father of
  1. MAGNUS, next of Warsetter
  2. JOHN, next of Tohop
and had also natural issue -

Sir James Sinclair (perhaps the legatee in Sir David's will), elected Governor of Kirkwall Castle [in 1515], who having in 1529 defeated the invasion of his Scottish kindred, was knighted by King James V, received Letters of Legitimation [Letters of Legitimation do not confer legitimacy on the grantee. The object of their issue is to confer a status upon persons born out of wedlock, enabling them to devise and bequeath property personally acquired] and in 1535 obtained from the Scottish king a feudal grant of Sanday and Eday upon, it is said, misrepresenting those islands as infertile holms. Hearing of King James' intended visit to Orkney, Sir James, anticipating exposure, sought refuge in death by self-precipitation from the Gloup of Linkness.

The previous instances of royal favour which Sir James had received are to be attributed to his powerful connections at court. On the 18th April 1539, a Royal letter passed the Privy Seal at Stirling, vesting his lands, etc., in his widow, who married secondly McLeod, Breve [officer of authority] of the Lewis. He married Lady Barbara Stewart, daughter of Lord Avondale, the Lord Chancellor, and sister-in-law to Margaret Tudor, the Queen dowager, by whom he had issue an only child, MARGARET, who married Magnus Halcro.

II MAGNUS SINCLAIR OF WARSETTER fought under the leadership of Sir James at Summerdale in 1529, for which he obtained a nineteen years' respite on the 19th September 1539. He may be the Magnus Sinclair of the Bu [the principal farm or manor house on an Odal estate] of Karstane, Stromness, in 1503, and who attests execution of Sir David Synclar's will in 1506, in which he is left "my blue doublet, the breast set with precious stones, and my hood set with precious stones, and my golden chains which I wear daily". Next to him is

III HENRIE SINCLAIR OF WARSETTER, who on 23rd December 1597, is one amongst others preferring complaint against the Balfours of Montquhany, Stratherne, and Garth. His successor is

IV WILLIAM SINCLAIR OF WARSETTER, who frequently appears in connection with civil suits from 1615 to 1622. On the 5th May 1615, William Sinclair of Marsetter (sic) appeared before the Court; on the 30th May he is cited at the instance of William Sinclair of Ethay; On the 12th June he is inhibited at the Canongate by (Ethay ?), and also by James Stewart. He is enumerated in the list of gentlemen Suitors before the Earldom Court 1617-1622, and is mentioned in a legal document of 1620.

He evidently died between January and April 1622, for on the 8th April of that year Harie Stewart, Sheriff Depute of Orkney, produces a charter to him of lands in Sanday made by Jonet, one of the two daughters and airs of deceased William Sinclair of Warsetter, with consent of Alexander Stewart of Clet now her spouse.

V HARIE SINCLAIR OF WARSETTER is mentioned in a case 3rd October 1627. Sinclair of W. at suit of of one Brown, - as father of

VI WILLIAM SINCLAIR OF WARSETTER, who was his only son. This Warsetter subscribed a deed of procuratorie at Kirkwall, 13th January 1623, protesting that the service of Janet Sinclair aforesaid should be "no way prejudicial to the said William anent his right of lands, and @ rent is (annual rents) to him or Agnes Sinclair, his mother, as one of the heirs portioners of the said William Sinclair of Warsetter". On the 4th October 1621, compeared all the lands of Holland and Bea ane discreet young man George Gardyne as Procurator for Alesoune Sinclair to William Sinclair of Warsetter - Charter be the said William in favour of said Alesone for her liferent only - lands in Sanday. On the 4th September 1623, Mr. Harie Aitken institutes process against William Sinclair of (Warsetter) and Alesone Sinclair his spouse. On 28th July 1623, Warsetter institutes process against William Sinclair of Ethay and his brother John Warsetter is enumerated in the Suitors of Court 1623-1631, and is described as only son of Harie Sinclair of Warsetter.

In the Rental of 1595 Thomas Sinclair, prebendar of St.Augustine, holds Lopness, etc. Sanday, in tack [lease], and may be of this family, and from the frequent litigation between the Warsetters and the Edays it is probable the two families were nearly related. Sir James Sinclair, the Governor, had held both Sanday and Eday, and it is stated that at his death in 1536-7 his widow got his lands. On her re-marriage she probably leased them or parted with her interest to his relatives.

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