Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sinclair, John (1797-1875)

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SINCLAIR, JOHN (1797–1875), divine, son of Sir John Sinclair (1754–1835) [q. v.] by his second wife, was born in 1797, and educated first at Edinburgh University. In 1815 he was entered at Pembroke College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1819 and M.A. in 1822. At Edinburgh he helped to found the Rhetorical Society, and at Oxford he promoted a scheme afterwards realised by the formation of the Union Society. He was ordained deacon in 1819 and priest in 1820 by the bishop of Lincoln. After working at Sutterby, Lincolnshire, at Hackney, and at Edinburgh, he was appointed in 1839 secretary of the National Society. He threw himself with great energy into the organisation of the elementary education work done by the church, and was the moving spirit in the negotiations between the church and the government which ended in the educational concordat of 1850 respecting the allocation of government grants to elementary schools. Bishop Blomfield heartily supported Sinclair, whom he made in 1839 one of his examining chaplains, in 1843 vicar of Kensington, and in 1844 archdeacon of Middlesex. The two latter offices Sinclair filled until the end of his life. At Kensington he subdivided the huge parish, and built the new parish church of St. Mary Abbott's. In 1853 he went to the United States on a mission from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. He acted also as secretary of the Diocesan Church Building Society, which became, under Bishop Tait, the Bishop of London's Fund. Sinclair died unmarried at Kensington, after a short illness, on 22 May 1875. He was the author of many sermons and charges, of several minor works, and of ‘Dissertations vindicating the Church of England,’ 1836; ‘The Life and Times of Sir John Sinclair,’ 1837; ‘Vindication of the Apostolical Succession,’ 1861; and ‘Letters and Reports on National Education,’ 1861.

[Churchman, 1891, pp. 294, 352; Guardian, 26 May 1875; Crockford's Clerical Directory, 1874; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886.]

A. R. B.