Sinclair Groupings - Sinclairs of Ireland

Click any one of these as we try to figure out the Ireland Group's complete path through time
Click to see all possible points of origin for this lineage Click to see where this group's lineages may have formed You're on this page now

I'm certain that, very soon, I'll have to change the title on this page. This group is cleary not of Ireland. David C's work had pushed his genealogy back to the Glasgow area, and he's not showing any connection in Ireland during the time period of the other participants whose DNA matches. This means that when a connection is found, David will be the link that ties this group back to Scotland, possibly in the lowlands. David has traced his family from London back (circa 1806) to Glasgow to around 1700.

Basic history

In 1315, shortly after his victory at Bannockburn, Robert the Bruce, with his brother Edward, landed an army of about 5,000 Scottish troops in Northeastern Ireland. Before this took place, the Bruce had prepared the kings, clergy and inhabitants with a letter which called the Scots and Irish collectively “nostra nacio” (our nation), stressing the common language, customs and heritage of the two peoples: “Whereas we and you and our people and your people, free since ancient times, share the same national ancestry and are urged to come together more eagerly and joyfully in friendship by a common language and by common custom,...” 101  Well that’s an interesting claim! Ireland and the Bruce family ‘share the same ancestry?’ Robert the Bruce descends from Flanders. 17 The Irish descended from the Celts. Did the Bruce know something we don’t? Or was he simply waxing eloquent? It turns out, the later is the case. In fact, his father-in-law, Richard de Burgh, was 2nd Earl of Ulster. And, on his mother's side (Carrick), Bruce was descended from Gaelic royalty--in Scotland. 101  It seems the ties between Ireland and Scotland were strong even in the 1300s. 

In general, there are about four time periods this group’s DNA might have arrived in Ireland- (1) The Roman era (yes, perish the thought, the Romans likely were there.) (2) the Visigoth invasion years of 400-1,000 AD (Yes, gulp, them too.) (3) the English adventures of the years 1170-1340 including Richard fitzGilbert de Clare nicknamed, quite accurately, 'Strongbow' and (4) the settling of the Plantations of Ulster, possibly, as you'll read later, including one son of an Earl of Rosslyn. 

Based on what you may have read in the chapter regarding the S21+ Visigoth invader lineage, the Irish participants seem to be lacking those critical markers that would identify them with this merry band. So, when and how did they arrive in Ireland? If anything, the lack of those markers that would make them Visigoths bolsters their claim that they came from Scotland at some more recent time and makes it nearly impossible that they were in Ireland as early as the Visigoths. 

In looking at the results of our DNA tests, I'm often bowled over by connections, and never more than when looking at the connections between our Irish members and those of their neighbor across a mere 20 miles of Irish Sea, Argyle. Even on the 25-marker test, these two recently discovered cousins are matching very closely (23 of 25 markers, the only significant marker they're off on is DYS437, by one mutation.) A quick glance at the map on this page makes it clear just how close these two areas were. I can't recall the source, but I have read stories of folks rowing across those twenty miles to attend church services on Sundays. These two lands are close over the water and even closer, it seems, in the blood. They are 22/25 from several other folks who have wonderfully accurate documents research back to Argyle in the 1700s. 

So, what does it mean?

You'll likely read this more than once in this report - the results which say something directly are very interesting. But the results that don't say such a thing directly are equally of use for our project. The S21+ Ireland Lineage points to Argyle. Yet our S21+ Anglo-Saxon Invader Lineage does not point to Ireland. No one in this group claims any documents pointing back to Ireland. Instead, their research points directly back to Scotland, primarily Caithness. This is the kind of clear-cut demarcation that fascinates me. It may point to a more recent mutation on the DYS390 allele that means our Irish Lineage may be more closely related to our AMH Lineage.

Our connections to Ireland over the centuries make this a difficult area to understand. The earliest possible Sinclair DNA to show up here could have been with the Roman forces which arguably may have been in Ireland from AD 79 to AD 138. As I’ve pointed out in Chapter 4, “Our Path Through Time,” some of our family may have been serving with the Roman Army. Thus, however unlikely, our ancestors could have left some of their DNA in the population of Ireland this early. 92 (As you can imagine, any Roman invasion of Ireland is hotly debated). Richard Warner, Keeper of Archaeology and Ethnography at the Ulster Museum thinks this theory is very likely. “It is not acceptable to dismiss this concatenation of evidence simply on the grounds that neither a Roman stone fortress nor straight road has been found. Nor may we easily dismiss the extraordinary fact that the material and, to a great extent, social culture of the upper class Irish from the 6th century on owes far more to Roman than to native Irish precursors. To give just two examples among many: the favored Irish cloak-fastener from the 4th-11th century, the penannular brooch, evolved from a Romano-British brooch; and the early medieval Irish sword was, both in form and in name, a borrowing from that of the Roman army.

"In short, early medieval Ireland has all the appearance of being, culturally, an heir to the Roman world of which, we are supposedly to believe, it was never part.” 93  The debate is guaranteed to continue.

Details on the lineage

This lineage currently has at least 5 participants, many in different and unrelated geographies, including ancestors spent time in Ireland. But how, and when, did they get there? These participants do not show the characteristic markers of the 'native' Irish, the markers of Niall of the Nine Hostages, for instance. In fact, all of this bunch show S21+, DYS390=23 markers and DYS492=13. SNP testing will confirm this.

Everyone has their favorites. This lineage is definitely one of mine. Their perseverance, patience, inquisitiveness, and absolute commitment have been an inspiration to me. Richard St. Clair, Charles Sinclair, Keith George Sinclair and David Sinclair found each other through the St. Clair Research Project and have been fast friends ever since, sharing data, tearing down walls and seeking the truth of their shared past. Alone the way, they pulled in Donald Sinclair of Indianapolis and Peter Sinclair (whom I've nicknamed 'Argyle') of England and others to help them in their quest. Conclusions - This lineages haplotypes mean they're not of Ireland. Their close connections to participants with good documents back to Argyle and Glasgow mean they weren't in Ireland for long. They do not show the Celtic DNA that would define them as ‘natives.’

The group formerly named Lineage 2 has many folks who had ancestors living in Ireland. However, our Lineage 3 also has at least one member with ancestors there in 1720. Even our AMH Lineage, with Steve and Stan, had some connections there, though not through DNA. We had clear connections with Ireland in the 1700’s. Our Alexander Sinkler immigrant gave a deposition for John Mercer. This man was a native of Ireland who immigrated to Virginia in 1720. 85  Many will be very interested to know that this John Mercer was a practicing lawyer in Prince William County, and also Secretary of the Ohio Company and owned large tracts of land in Virginia and Ireland. Very critically, General Aurthur Sinclair was a prominent figure in the Ohio Company. “We do not learn that the officers of government for this weftern territory are yet appointed, but it is reported, that his Excellency General Arthur Sinclair, Prefident of Congrefs, is in nomination for governour.” 86   This in fact came to pass.

The Ireland / Scotland Connections Are the Key

There are so many interesting connections (and lack thereof) between our participants going back to Ireland and others in Scotland that it's very difficult to ignore. I have sat up late many nights now playing with the Excel Spreadsheet of our participants and I keep finding very unusual events. Here are a few -
Oban >> Kilkenny, Ireland - R1b1b2a1a --- We have two members, both with the name who show this unusual haplotype. One is in Ireland and the other in Oban, which is of course in Argyle. Their markers are not particularly close, one shows a "null" value for DYS390=425, which will turn out to be very telling, trust me. This from Michael Maddi, the U106 discussion admin., "...although U106 is not only found among Germanic populations, it generally is found at high levels in areas with Germanic populations, including England (Angles and Saxons in post-Roman era). As for Celt, generally the U106 level is not so high in the areas that have Celtic ancestry or had it in the past."  
Tight matches in the lineage, but further apart with Argyle --- This lineage (5 members as of this writing) are all either 24/25 or 25/25. Yet, when I look at their other close 25-marker test matches, they're 23/25 from three members with good documents back to Argyle. And they're 22/25 from two others with extremely good documents back to Argyle.  
The non-connections are interesting as well --- This group is extremely far off the AMH group, matching only 14/25 with Steve and the others. Not surprising since they're likely S21 (U106).

From Ireland to Pennsylvania and Beyond

There is a wonderful work about the Sinclairs of Ireland which I stumbled upon in the New York Public Genealogy section - The Sinclaire Family of Belfast N. Ireland And Their Descendants, 1660-1964, by Mrs. St. Claire Lappe Daub of Pennsylvania.139 In this work, she claims that, at the Plantation of Ulster, two sons of the Caithness St. Claire family went to Ireland and settled near Belfast. William, the son of one of these, born 1679, died 1759, leaving a son Thomas, who married Hester Pottinger, and Jane St. Claire, their 5th child, was the mother of the "Amiable Child." This child lies buried very near to General Ulysses S. Grant's tomb in Riverside Park in New York City remembered only by this marker - 

Erected to the memory of
an Amiable child
St. Clair Pollock
Died 15 of July, 1797
In the sixth year of his age.
Man born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble.
He cometh up like a flower and is cut down.
He fleeth after shadows, and continueth not.

Mrs. St. Claire Lappe Daub traced this family back to Philadelphia, where they probably landed, and then on back to Ireland. She then traces the family and associated names back to Caithness and, like all other Sinclair genealogists, back to the mysterious stories of Rollo. However, her work in the Ireland of the Ulster Plantation is very solid, covering - 

The Ballyrussel Sinclairs
Holyhill Sinclairs
Hopefield House, Killead & "Other Sinclairs"
Kinneary House Sinclairs
Moneyreah Sinclairs

I have notes which say the Sinklers of Ballymoney were likely Protestant Scots who lived among the Irish Catholics. I’ve long been interested in Ireland, but found it difficult to research as so many records were destroyed there. Clearly, the geographic proximity of Ireland to Scotland (Ayrshire in particular) made it certain that there were incredibly strong connections between these two areas. And with the Ulster Scots being settled there in part from Southwest Scotland, it’s certain we’ll see connections.

I have seen and heard assertions that County Clare in Ireland was named after the de Clare family, descendants of William the Conqueror. I believe it more likely comes from the town of Clare (now Clarecastle), in Irish An Clar, meaning "the level place". 89 However, in 1170 Richard de Clare did invade Ireland.

Richard was descended of Richard FitzGilbert (c. 1030 - 1090), who was a Norman lord who participated in the Norman conquest of England in 1066. He was the founder of the English noble family, the de Clares. 90  It is unclear if this gentleman was directly related to William the Conqueror. This FitzGilbert was the son of Gilbert or Giselbert "Crispin", (1000-1040) who was a Norman noble, Count of Eu, and Count of Brionne in northern France. I have seen private research that says this family comes from the illigetimate son of Richard II and are, therefore, cousins of William the Conqueror and of our Sinclair family.

Some of our more recent work on the Irish family is being done by some of our DNA project participants, Peter Sinclair in particular. In his latest newsletter, Peter writes-

“State records confirm that William Sinclair of Roslin settled in Ireland in 1620, taking with him his second wife, Janet Dobie, and at least two of their children. William left Rosslyn Castle, the chapel and his lands to Sir William Sinclair of Pentland, his first son. His wife, Jean Edmondstone, died soon after their son was born. William Sinclair was no angel. He left Scotland after many years of acrimonious exchanges with the local kirk, debts incurred rebuilding the castle and difficult relationships with some of his neighbours. King James's offer of 1000 acres in the Ely O'Carroll plantation was probably the only way he could provide a better life for Janet and their children. He had a house built, which he probably didn't live in, preferring the safety of Dublin. He might have died in 1627 because the estate was sold to Viscount Baltinglas, and the following year to William Parsons, another local planter. If so, his children will have been well provided for, staying on in Ireland to create a new branch of the Roslin Sinclairs.

“William's Scottish descendants ended with William St. Clair, the 'Last of the Roslins', who died in 1778. The title, castle and what was left of the Roslin lands passed to another branch of the Sinclairs, and then by marriage to the current owners, the Erskines. Rosslyn Castle is let by the Landmark Trust and Rosslyn Chapel, made even more famous by The Da Vinci Code, is run by its own trust.

“It has never been clear when the Sinclairs first appeared in Scotland. The Saintclair genealogy compiled by Father Hay around 1689 referred to an earlier account that a William de St. Clair arrived soon after the Norman conquest. Hay could find no evidence that this was true, and as far as I know, nor has anyone else. Yet it is often repeated. Instead, it seems far more likely the St. Clairs came from England in the twelfth century, where they had established themselves by 1120.  95

And this from Peter Sinclair’s excellent website - “The first appearance of Sinclair families in Ireland was a direct consequence of plantations promoted by James I during the early seventeenth century. Although individual Scottish Sinclairs may have visited during the reign of Elizabeth I, none seem to have settled. “Some Irish Sinclairs can trace their arrival from Scotland to the Ulster Plantation in 1610. These were probably younger sons taking advantage of the land escheated (taken) from the Irish Earls who had fled after their defeat by the English. Many English and Scottish Protestants settled in Ulster at that time. Life was hard, but they brought with them new farming skills and quickly increased the productivity of their lands.

“One of the last plantations begun by James I was in King's County, now part of Co. Offaly in the Irish Midlands. This later plantation was not so successful as the Ulster Plantation, as noted by a Commission in 1622. Ely O'Carroll country was planted in 1619, and one of the principal undertakers was William Sinclair of Roslin. He and his wife, Janet Dobie, and their young family moved to Ireland and in 1624 William was naturalised (became a 'denizen').

“Not all the early descendants of the Sinclair families established in Ulster and elsewhere during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries became farmers. Some turned to the church, others to commerce and government, and some joined the protestant Irish who settled in North America when times were too bleak for them in Ireland.

“Today, Sinclairs can still be found in Northern Ireland, but few know when their ancestors first arrived - other than sharing a common belief that they originated in Scotland."  96 

What we'd expect
to see in the DNA
(1) With the likely mixing of DNA haplotypes in Western Scotland, and the settlement into the Ulster Plantations, we could see a mixing of DNA types, yet we don't. They're all DYS390=23. Yet, there's enough genetic distance that we are certainly seeing 3 families who don't relate until back in Scotland or perhaps when the families were back in western Europe.
(2) THIS IS IMPORTANT - Though our Ireland Lineage shows DYS390=23, they do not show the classic marker pattern of the Anglo-Saxon Invader group. More work needed here and it will be done shortly, but if we continue to notice a complete split here, this is a very important clue. It could point to a geographic split in our family on as late a date as the settlement of Ulster Plantations and on as small a geography as Scotland with the A-S Invaders being more northward and the Lowland Scots being from a different line in Western Europe. Keep your eye on this page and the "News" link for more on this. It's big.

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