Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sinclair, William (d.1337)

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SINCLAIR, WILLIAM (d. 1337), bishop of Dunkeld, was the second son of Sir William Sinclair (fl. 1266–1303) [q. v.] He succeeded Matthew de Crambreth as bishop of Dunkeld in 1312. On 2 Feb. 1312 he received a safe-conduct from Edward at his own request (his choice as bishop having been confirmed by the pope) to turn aside at Berwick to ‘get himself arrayed,’ on condition that he did not proceed further into Scotland nor hold converse with the enemy (Cal. Doc. relating to Scotland, 1307–57, No. 301). In 1317 he greatly distinguished himself by his gallant repulse of an English force which had landed at Donibristle in Fife. Already five hundred cavalry under the sheriff had been put to disgraceful flight, when the bishop, who was then residing at Auchtertool, put himself at the head of sixty of his servants and rallied the fugitives. ‘Turn,’ he said, seizing a spear from a soldier, ‘turn, for shame, and let all who love Scotland follow me.’ His words and action were effectual; and the English were driven back to their ships with a loss of five hundred men (Fordun, Chronicle). Bruce, on learning his feat, declared that Sinclair should be his own bishop, and as the king's bishop he was henceforth known. He seems, however, to have crowned Edward Baliol in 1332. The Dunkeld register gives his death 27 June 1337.

[Vitæ Dunkeldensis Eccles. Episcop. in the Bannatyne Club, 1831; Keith's Scottish Bishops; Fordun's Chronicle; Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, 1307–57.]

T. F. H.