[Clan Sinclair]
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[Prince Henry]
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``A Prince as worthy of immortal memory as any that ever lived for his great bravery and remarkable goodness.''

—Admiral Antonio Zeno

``Regrettably, Sinclairs know very little about their own history although, in Prince Henry Sinclair, they had one of the greatest men of the 14th Century or, for that matter, of any other Century.''

—Niven Sinclair

Date: Tue, 8 Jun 1999 20:51:06 -0500 (CDT)
From: <> (George Duncan Sinclair)

I just recently got around to reading the latest issue of The Family Tree & found an article giving the URL for a site set up, "so young people can read themselves information about Prince Henry Sinclair and his voyage to the New World in 1398, almost 100 years BEFORE Columbus". ( bfa/projects/ phsweb/home.htm)

When I went to the site I was not surprised to see listed in the credits Niven Sinclair & the late Pete Cummings.

Yours Aye,

—Geo. D. S.

[Arms of Prince Henry Sinclair as Earl of Orkney]

Jarl Henry Sinclair (c.1345 - c.1400)

One ancestor in particular has recently incented a number of organizations and publications. Henry Sinclair was the Baron of Roslin near Edinburgh. We are also told he became Lord Chief Justice of Scotland and Admiral of the Seas. Burke's Peerage and Gentry agrees that he was Baron of Roslin, Earl of Orkney, and Lord of Shetland, ``who on 2 August 1379, was formally invested by Haakon, King of Norway, as Jarl of the Orkneys, ranked next to the Roy House before all the Scandinavian nobility. As Admiral he discovered Greenland, lived in much state at Roslin, and was k in battle in Orkney 1404.'' Of course Burke's is wrong in saying he discovered Greenland, since as a Norse Jarl, Henry would have known that Norway already claimed Greenland, since 1261. Greenland had been discovered by Gunnbjorn in 983 and settled by Erik the Red ca. 985.

We are told that Henry was descended from Rogenvald the Mighty, first Earl of Orkney, on both sides of his family. We are told that he was known as ``Henry the Holy'' because he had made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Some say he even fought in a Crusade, like his ancestors before him. Unfortunately, I know of no solid sources for any of these three things.

According to Fredrick J. Pohl, by inheritance from Henry's mother and confirmation of the King of [Norway] [Orkney] Norway Henry became the first Sinclair Earl of Orkney; the graphic at the top of the page is his coat of arms as Earl of Orkney. This made him the premier Jarl of Norway and the crowner of its king. (He has also been alleged to be the Duke of Oldenburg in Denmark, although no sources seem available for such a claim.) He had the right to various royal privileges, including wearing a crown. He held Orkney from the King of Norway, yet was also a leading Scottish noble. This dual loyalty and the geographical position of his jarldom of Orkney with its 200 islands and 5,000 square miles on the sea lanes between the two countries made him in effect all but an independent king. The title of Prince has been alleged for him, although it is not clear that he ever used it or that it was applied to him in his lifetime.

Knights Templar [Shetland flag] Again according to Fredrick J. Pohl, not content with successfully bringing Orkney, Shetland, and perhaps Faroe under his control, Henry built a fleet of ships larger than the navy of Norway. He gained adherents from the princely Zeno family of Venice, who were great sailors and who made available to him the new invention of cannon. He and the Sinclair family have often been associated with the Knights Templar, who were also great sailors.

[The Westford Knight] Newport Tower According to Pete Cummings and others, soon Henry used many of his ships and his Italian expert to sail to Nova Scotia in 1398 and Massachusetts in 1399. He may even have gone to Rhode Island, where evidence suggests that he built Newport Tower.

[Rosslyn Chapel] His grandson William, first Sinclair Earl of Caithness, immortalized that voyage (among many other things) in stone at Rosslyn Chapel, near Edinburgh.
[Prince Henry Society] The Prince Henry Sinclair Society of North America celebrates that voyage, and built a monument to it in Nova Scotia.

[Nova Scotia flag] Chief The Clan Sinclair Society of Nova Scotia organized various celebratory events and built a memorial, whose inauguration was attended by the current Earl of Caithness, who is a descendant of Jarl Henry and Chief of Clan Sinclair.

The late Pete Cummings published a a newsletter about the 600th anniversary celebrations.

The Forces Which Shaped Our Past

Date: Tue, 08 Jun 1999 08:46:45 +0100
From: Niven Sinclair <>

We have to understand the religious, political and economic forces which shaped our past and, more paticularly, the great family dynasties which were being forged through marriage alliances No-one, for example, can suppose that Knut needed to marry Emma (St Clair) who was the relict of Ethelred. He could have had any nubile female but, then, that nubile female would not have cemented racial or territorial relationships.

Marriage was not the lovey-dovey partnership we expect (but seldom get) today.

Henry Sinclair could have taught Queen Victoria a lesson or two. His 13 children were married into all the leading Scottish families.

When I was studying our family history, I reached a point when I could almost predict who was going to marry whom. Just as we returned to root stock with our Aberdeen Angus cattle, the Sinclairs did this every third generation. Many marriages were annulled on the grounds of consanganuity but were 'restored' after paying the Church money - an example of this can be fond with Earl William Sinclair who, like his father Heny II, married a Douglas. The Sinclairs and the Stewarts were inextricably interwoven - more is the pity because it was our adherence to the Stewart cause and the Catholic religion (when Protestantism was sweeping Northern Europe) which led to our downfall.

As I have written elsewhere, Bonnie Prince Charlie actually travelled under the name of Sinclair and used the Sinclair seal until he was of age.

I'll post some material to you today. I am deeply impressed by the interest which is being shown in the Sinclair pages. It augurs well for the Clan and Brad's stint as President. We must use the internet to disseminate information and to stimulate a lively interest in family research. We must embrace the young because anything we might achieve in our own lifetimes is as naught unless we can pass on our ideals to the younger generation.

As I am wont to say: "We are nothing without our roots" and who else have more enduring roots than ourselves? If I may quote from the St Clairs of the Isles by Roland St Clair: ``No family in Europe beneath the rank of Royalty boasts a higher antiquity, a nobler illustration or a more romantic interest than that of St Clair.''

Let us be worthy of our lineage. Let us be worthy of our heritage. True, it can no longer be measured in vast acres or in gold and jewels but it can be measured in something which is much more enduring: Courage, loyalty, integrity, compassion, example and, dare I say it, humility because no man can be truly great without a due measure of humility. Prince Henry had this.

And who can look at the wonders of Nature without being humble? Earl William Sinclair brought Nature into his Chapel at Rosslyn because he believed that God and Nature was ONE. He believed that there had been far too much talk about the Father on high and far too little concern about Mother Earth. He believed that every leaf was a word of God. He understood the necessary balance between Man's physical and spiritual needs.


Last changed: 00/01/08 11:41:54 [Clan Sinclair]