The Sinclair family

On this page we shall provide information relating to the Sinclair family. 

The Scottish origins of the name SINCLAIR:

This Caithness surname is of territorial origin from St. Clare in the arrondissement of Pont d’Eveque, Normandy. The first Sinclairs in Scotland appear to have been vassals of the great territorial magnates, de Moreville. Their first possession in Scotland was the barony of Roslin, near Edinburgh, which they held in the reign of David I (1124 – 1153). The earliest bearers of of the name appear in charters connected with the abbeys of DrybuArgh and Newbattle, the Hospital of Soltre (now known as Soutra, Midlothian), and the church of Glasgow etc. An early offshoot of the family became all powerful in Caithness and held the Earldom there from 1379 to 1542. The frequency of the surname in Caithness and in the Orkneys is due to the tenants on the lands of the earldom adopting the name of their overlord just as we find tenants who possessed no surnames of their own doing likewise elsewhere. The Sinclairs, like the Gordons and some other families, cannot be called a clan in the true sense of the term. They were a powerful territorial family, whose relationship to their dependents was entirely fuedal.

John Singular held land in Aberdeen, c.1450. Lassae Saenghaer (Lawrence Sinclair) who was burgomaster of Oddevald in 1504 and who is recorded again in 1508 as Laffris Saeckeller. An old rhyme referring to the bickerings between the Sinclairs and their neighbours says:

Sinclair, Sutherland, Keith, and Clan Gunn,
There was never was peace when thae four were in.’

The name Sinclair and some of the various spellings, together with the dates recorded thereof are undernoted:

Spelling of Name Date
Seincler 1261
Seintclerk 1296
Seyntclere 1405
Santoclair 1407
Seintclere 1445
Singlar 1454
Synclere 1470
Synclare 1482
Singkler 1491
Sanclar 1493
Synklair 1526
Syncleir 1528
Synklar 1529
Santclar 1539
Syncler 1544
Santclere 1545
Sincklar 1597
Sinclaire 1598
Sincler 1620
Sincklair 1634
Sinklare 1640
Sinckler 1647
Sinklair 1667
Sincklare 1684
Sinkaller 1692


Much of the above is taken from: Black’s: Surnames of Scotland

Some might a wee bitty concerned that the Sinclair family is not a ‘real’ clan. The basis of a clan is the relationship between those ‘at the top and those at the bottom’. The power of Sinclair family was based on feudal dominance of those on their land rather than a family, or clan, relationship. In other words many of those with the surname Sinclair (and all the variants) are not, and were not, connected by blood, to the Sinclair family.

The etymology of words, and in this instance proper names, is fraught with difficulty and danger. The above table demonstrates the development of the name Sinclair over time but it must be stressed that the list is not comprehensive and that more research will, almost certainly, reveal more variants of the name.


We are informed that the book: the Genealogie of the Saintclaires of Rosslyn contains a a huge amount of information regarding the Sinclair family, it origins and activities. 

This book, shortly to be published by the Grand Lodge of Scotland has a, brief pre-publication, review on this website. Please go to the news page to read the review.

Once the above mentioned book is available the above list is quite likely to be added too so please do come back to this page.

The present Sinclair Family


Sinclair Arms

Sinclair Arms




1st, argent a cross engrailed sable (for ST Clair):

2nd, argent a pale sable (for ERSKINE);

3rd, azure a bend between six cross crosslets fitchée or (for MAR);

4th, argent on a chevron gules between three roses of the last barbed vert a fleur-de-lys of the field for difference (for WEDDERBURN).


1 A demi-phoenix in flames proper and over it the device ‘Rinasco piu glorioso’ [‘I am reborn more glorious’],

2 An eagle’s head erased proper with the words ‘Illaeso lumine solern’ [‘[Enjoy] the sun with unimpaired light’] (for WEDDERBURN).


Dexter, an eagle wings inverted proper, gorged with a collar argent, thereon a fleur-de-lys gules; sinister, a griffin wings elevated proper. Motto: Fight.

Lineage (o