Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sinclair, William (1804-1878)
SINCLAIR, WILLIAM (1804–1878), rector of Pulborough, Sussex, the fifth son of Sir John Sinclair [q. v.], of Ulbster, Caithness, by his second wife, Diana Macdonald, only daughter of Alexander, lord Macdonald of the Isles, was born on 4 Sept. 1804. He was a brother of Catherine Sinclair [q. v.], authoress, of Sir George Sinclair [q. v.], and of Archdeacon John Sinclair (1797–1875) [q. v.] On leaving Winchester school he obtained, at the age of sixteen, a commission in the Madras cavalry, and distinguished himself by leading a forlorn hope at the siege of Kittoor. Returning to England, he matriculated from St. Mary's Hall, Oxford, on 29 Feb. 1832, and graduated B.A. in 1835 and M.A. in 1837. At Oxford he became president of the union when it numbered among its members Archibald Tait, Roundell Palmer, Edward Cardwell, and Robert Low. Thomas Jackson, in his preface to the Oxford squib, ‘Uniomachia, a Greek-Latin Macaronic Poem’ (5th edition 1877), states that while engaged on it he had a visit from Sinclair, his college friend, who, he says, ‘entered heartily into the scheme, and composed many of the best lines and notes.’ In 1837 Sinclair took holy orders, and accepted the parish of St. George's, Leeds, where, as a liberal evangelical, he laboured for twenty years with such ardour as seriously to undermine his constitution. From considerations of health he was then induced to accept the rectory of Pulborough, Sussex, where he rebuilt the church and rectory, and started schools and chapels in different parts of the parish. In 1874 he was appointed to a prebendal stall in Chichester Cathedral. He died on 8 July 1878. By his wife Helen, daughter of William Ellice, and niece of the Right Hon. Edward Ellice [q. v.] of Invergarry, Inverness-shire, he was father of (among other sons) Dr. W. M. Sinclair, archdeacon of London. Sinclair was author of: # ‘The Dying Soldier: a Tale founded on Facts,’ 1838.
- ‘Manual of Family and Occasional Prayers,’ 1854.
- ‘The Sepoy Mutinies: their Origin and Cure,’ 1857. He also edited the ‘Charges’ of his brother the archdeacon, 1876.
[Foster's Baronetage; Oxford Graduates; Men of the Time; Times, 9 July 1878.]