Sinclair, William (fl.1266-1303) (DNB00)

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SINCLAIR, Sir WILLIAM, or William de Saint Clair (fl. 1266–1303), of Roslin, Scottish baron, was descended from a line of Anglo-Norman barons, one of whom, William de Sancto Claro, obtained from David I the barony of Roslin in Scotland, and was the progenitor of

    The lordly line of high Saint Clair

in Scotland, represented by the earls of Orkney and the earls of Caithness. The father of Sir William Sinclair, also named William, is said to have died about 1270. Either the father or the son was sheriff of Haddington in 1264 (Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, i. 32), and sheriff of Linlithgow and of Edinburgh in 1266 (ib. p. 34). In 1279 (Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, 1272–1307, No. 156) and also in 1281 (ib. No. 204) he is mentioned as guardian of Alexander, prince of Scotland, who made use of his seal. He sat in the parliament of Scone, 5 Feb. 1284, when the succession to the crown of Scotland was determined in the event of the death of Alexander III, and shortly afterwards he was sent with two other ambassadors by King Alexander to France to look out for a consort to him of noble family, when Joleta, daughter of the Count de Jeux, was chosen (Fordun, Chronicle). In 1288 he is mentioned as sheriff of Dumfries (Exchequer Rolls, i. 35) and in 1290 as justiciar of Galloway (ib. p. 37). He was one of those who attended the parliament of Brigham on 14 March of the latter year, when an arrangement was made for the marriage of the Princess Margaret of Scotland to Prince Edward of England (Documents illustrative of the History of Scotland, ed. Stevenson, i. 28). In the competition for the crown of Scotland in 1292 he was a nominee on the part of Baliol, and 2 Jan. 1292–3 he attested by his seal letters patent by Baliol giving a general adherence to Edward I (Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, 1272–1307, No. 658). From Edward he received a grant of lands of the annual value of a hundred marks (Rotuli Scotiæ, p. 24), and on 1 Sept. 1294 he was summoned, with other Scottish nobles, to assist France against Edward, when, instead of complying, they resolved at a parliament held at Scone to enter into an alliance with France against Edward (Fordun). After the outbreak of war with Edward he, with other Scottish leaders, threw himself into the castle of Dunbar (Documents illustrative of the History of Scotland, ed. Stevenson, i. 130), and on its surrender on 25 March, after the defeat of the Scottish army by Surrey, Sinclair was taken prisoner (ib. ii. 27). On 1 June 1296 he is referred to as in Gloucester Castle (ib. p. 54), but he made his escape early in 1303, pardon being granted 3 Feb. 1302–3 to Walter de Beauchamp for all action in his escape (Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, 1272–1307, No. 1399). Whether he succeeded in returning to Scotland or was captured and slain is not stated, but he probably did not die in 1300, as is usually affirmed; and he may have been present at the battle of Roslin Moor 24 Feb. 1302–3, when the English were defeated.

He left three sons: Henry [see below]; William (d. 1337) [q. v.], bishop of Dunkeld; and Gregory, ancestor of the Sinclairs of Longformacus.

Sir Henry Sinclair (d. 1330?) swore fealty with his father to King Edward in 1292, but joined with his father against him and was taken prisoner at Dunbar, and on 16 May 1296 he was removed to St. Briavell's Castle (Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, 1272–1307, No. 177), but on 7 April 1299 he was ordered to be exchanged for William FitzWarren (ib. No. 1062). In September 1305 he was appointed by Edward I sheriff of Lanark (ib. No. 1691; Acta Parl. Scot. i. 121). In September 1307 he was ordered to aid against Bruce (Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, 1307–57, No. 15). Subsequently he became a friend of Bruce, for whom he fought at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. He signed the letter to the pope in 1320 asserting the independence of Scotland. On 27 Dec. 1328 he received a pension of twenty marks to himself and his heirs until provided with lands of that value (Hay, Genealogy of the Sinclairs of Roslin, p. 52; Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, ii. 209). He died about 1330, leaving, by his wife Alicia de Fenton, a son, Sir William Sinclair or Saint Clair (d. 1330) [q. v.]

[Fordun's Chronicle; Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, 1272–1307; Exchequer Rolls, vol. i. ii.; Documents illustrative of the History of Scotland, ed. Stevenson, vol. i.; Hay's Genealogy of the Sinclairs of Roslin.]

T. F. H.