Contrary to popular (read: Hollywood) belief, the Vikings were not all bloodthirsty invaders, raping and pillaging their way through Europe. Most were farmers and fishermen.

About St. Clair Research

The first DNA tests for the Sinclair family were completed in the winter of 2004. Since then, we’ve topped over 180 tests from Sinclairs around the world. When Stan St. Clair and I took the test, I was simply trying to prove whether or not I connected to Stan’s line as he had a solid paper trail to Alexander Sinkler, the 1698 immigrant from Scotland, and my trail had holes in it in the 1800’s. Since then the project has taken on a much more complex role in the worldwide family, attempting to answer questions including traditional genealogy, but also going far beyond it.

The Folks Involved

The project is currently run by Steve St. Clair of New Jersey and Stan St. Clair of Tennessee. Along the way, we’ve had the advice of, and some assistance by, folks such as Iain Laird of the UK, who has maintained our UK website. Also, Margarette Stokes has been very helpful in answering documents questions for many of those who’ve tested. Meg has for many years dug into our family’s extensive records and has been an ongoing source of verification for some of the results we’ve discovered.

As the project has evolved, we've been lucky enough to attract the interest of other great historical researchers like Rondo Me of Australia who has the advantage of an unbiased perspective outside of our family. Rondo was introduced to the Sinclairs by Gerry Sinclair who wished to get an overall picture based on fact (not stories and myths) and sought professional help. The two have spent years re-examining every scrap of primary evidence on the Saint-Clairs with regard to Scotland and will soon present what promises to be a very refreshing look at our history in book form.

Along the way, Rondo has been very helpful in critiquing the work I've been putting up on this website. Her knowledge of medieval history is unique and I like Gerry have found her to be a true professional. I'm happy to count her and Gerry as friends and lucky to have them as fellow researchers.

Few people have been more loyal in their support of our project than Niven Sinclair of the UK. Niven is the one who has pressed, more than any other, for testing of Native North Americans, the Losna family and others who may help us better understand our complex ancient history. Thanks also must go to Martin Carrier, Stephen J. Augustine and William Mann of Canada for their ongoing assistance in testing Native North Americans. Ian Laird has helped to promote the project on the right side of the pond. Peter Sinclair has also been helpful in our UK research, providing an interesting take on our family's origins in England (in particular) at his website here.

Jean Grigsby, Antonia Sinclair, Margaret Stokes, Peter (Argyle) Sinclair, Rand Greubel and so very many others like Lilian St. Clair Blackford, and Leonard A. Morrison have done and continue to do the heavy lifting of documents research. To you we owe the greatest debt of gratitude. I hope you realize how much you've added to this study. On so many pages of this report you'll read the words - 'DNA without solid documents research is simply a string of numbers.'  Your work has made it so much more than that for all of us.

Mark Staveley has been a source of never-ending ideas to make our project more scholarly. Moving into 2012, you'll begin to see many of his ideas on how we approach our study take shape here.

I'd like to express a special thank-you to Stan St. Clair. His steady hand and never-failing optimism have been a safe harbor for me as we built this project together. Because so many in our worldwide family feel the same way about Stan, they know they will be in good hands with our project. As a direct result of the trust so many had, they jumped in and we now number over 140 tests. As we dug into this First Comprehensive Report about in the Spring of 2008, I finally had the great pleasure meeting Stan in person at his home in Tennessee and spending a weekend with he and his wife, working out how we would present all this information. Stan, your friendship has meant a great deal to me and I'll always look back fondly on our many long conversations. Of course, this First Comprehensive Report is just the beginning and we have lots more to do.

No one deserves our gratitude more than the members of the family themselves who donated their very DNA, both to help us understand their lineages and to help others with poor documents research connect to those with good paper trails. I believe that, one day, everyone in our family will say a quiet 'thank you' to these 140 brave explorers who stepped into the unknown together to make their mark on Sinclair history.

Our History as a Group

At first, looking only for a connection between Stan and I, we involved no other family members. However, we quickly realized that this could be the answer to so many folks who had run into brick walls in their documents research. Stan approached Niven, who was immediately enthusiastic about the project. Naturally, several people were skeptical about the security of such an intimate undertaking, but a posting I made on the family’s Yahoo chat group quickly made clear just how safe the results are and family members began signing on immediately.
Along the way, I’ve involved many experts to help us better understand our results and to keep us up to speed on the latest in Genetics for Genealogy. After all, this is a completely volunteer effort. Each of us does this in his and her spare time while holding down full time jobs and raising families. So we need outside experts to guide us. Some of the folks who’ve provided assistance are Terry Barton of World Families, Jim Wilson and David Faux of EthnoAncestry, the S21 folks, and the many researchers at other family DNA projects who post to the FTDNA forums.

Numbers Plus Documents Plus More

I quickly realized that DNA numbers alone would not solve much, so I asked for documents trails from every participant. Most participants have turned these in. I also realized that we needed even more to better understand our family. So I began to look for other testing opportunities to get further into our DNA data, such as deep clade testing. I also began to look for new ways to slice and dice the data. It seems our family, with our ancient documents trail, was quite unique and I felt that the standard ways to looking at results simply weren’t good enough for us to understand our connections. After all, how many families who’ve tested do you suppose are looking for connections back in the year 600 AD?

And so I began to dig into such studies as the S21 mutation, Deep Clade testing, the Heyer Study 82 and more. In looking at these new studies, many things began to be explained. For instance, when we first got the results back, it was easy for some to dismiss our E1b participants as not belonging to the family. But with a great deal of digging, I found out that many ancient members of the E1b Haplogroup were known to migrate out of the Middle East, and into Northwestern Europe, well before surnames were taken. Thus, like many in our project, this E1b participant’s ancestors were very likely in Normandy in time to take the family surname. Numbers alone are not enough. Documents alone won’t tell the whole story. But numbers, plus documents, plus other unique ways of looking at the results will eventually tell us a great deal about our family’s history.

While new participants are vital to better understanding our history, the Sinclair DNA Study is, at this time, a fairly large study. We will continue to test those who contact us. In 2008, on the advice of a consultant, I was not actively doing outreach to find new participant but, rather, digging into new ways to study those we have. With the release of this report, that period has ended and I have very specific new recruitment goals.

A project like this is very dynamic. By the time this report is on your screen, parts of it could be obsolete due to new ways of testing. That said, I feel this report is important enough to warrant the time and expense of someday binding it as a book befitting the work that went into the study; and to make it permanent enough that it honors the trust our participants place in this project.

Beyond DNA

While I began expecting to focus on DNA exclusively, it quickly became apparent that the scope of DNA would make that impossible. DNA, while heartlessly pure as only raw data can be, is still simply a string of numbers that mean little without other information with which to compare. So I quickly found myself immersed in genealogy charts, archaeology, linguistics, cartography, and many other areas.

Since beginning this DNA study, I've had no choice but to focus on the study of Native populations, on finding better ways to analyze the Jarl Henry St. Clair story, on the mystery of the Newport Tower, on the crusades, on ancient navigation, on population statistics, on heraldry, and more. One result of this focus was the Atlantic Conference of August 2008, described as 'the definitive gathering of world experts on early trans-Atlantic voyaging.'  Clearly this is an area that affects the history of our family, but I wanted to approach it from a more scientific perspective, examining the actual proofs and reasonable likelihoods that such voyaging was possible. This was not a 'Prince Henry' conference but, rather, a scientific gathering sponsored by a family that has a great interest in the subject as a whole.

"Every writer pursuing a subject not yet written about knows that at some time he will have to break off. Not for rest - there is no such thing; but because of the necessity to establish a staging-post, a point at which he can unburden himself of the nuggets of information he has so far acquired." - Beryl Platts, Greenwich, 1989

Admittedly, one who takes on too much can never be an expert in any one area. I'm a generalist, curious about any area that might have had an effect on the history of our family. With such an ancient family, the areas are many. Also, luckily, I've managed to surround myself with such an honest, helpful and tireless group like Terry Barton, Scott Wolter, Rick Osman, Dr. Benjamin Olshin, Zena Halpern, Dr. Evan Jones, Wayne May, Gunnar Thompson, David Brody, Garth V. Norman, Romeo H. Hristov, Danny Hinnigar, Diane E. Wirth, Stephen J. Augustine, Judi Rudebucsh, Peter (Argyle) Sinclair, Jean Grigsby, Michael Thrasher, Toni Sinclair, folks at NEARA like Jan Barstad and Terry Deveau, and so many others whose intellectual honesty has had a tremendous influence on my approach.

So the work of St. Clair Research will continue to branch out into areas that, while far from DNA, can be approached with the same scientific honesty and rigor demanded by emotionless numbers. As a good friend of mine repeatedly says, 'let the data lead where it may.'
You can keep up with our work on the Atlantic Conference, the Newport Tower and other projects regarding diffusionism at The Atlantic Conference website .

Read our page at Family Tree DNA.

We're writing on Tumblr

One of our blogs for the Sinclair family DNA study

Another blog for our Sinclair DNA study

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