Alexander Sinkler and his family grew tobacco in Prince William County and in Bedford, Virginia

Sinclair Groupings - Further Research on Alexander Sinkler of Virginia

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by Steve St. Clair

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This work was an attempt to pick up where the excellent efforts of Jean Grigsby left off. I wanted to find where, or if, Alexander fit into the various cadet branches as outlined by Rowland Saint-Claire who wrote Saint-Claires of the Isles. 107  My process was to pull out every relevant record about the man, his family, his business dealings and the land he lived on. This work began in 2000 and continues to this day. Our goal in this was to "jump over" the unknown connections and look for any and all records that might connect our Alexander to the family in Scotland.

Alexander Sinkler b. about 1666. Says in a deposition regarding John Mercer's land that he is "of Glasgow."

Crossed in 1698 on the ship Loyalty, registered in Liverpool. This does not mean he departed from Liverpool. This was simply a tricky way the Scots had of getting around the Navigation Acts that began with Oliver Cromwell in 1651. The Scots would register a ship by checking it's cargo in an English port like, in the case of the Loyalty, always Liverpool. Source - History Scotland Magazine, July/August 2003 "Ayr & the 'Scot's Lots' in the Americas 1682-1707, Eric J. Graham & Tom Barclay. The Loyalty's sister ship Hannover checked into Whitehaven before proceeding out to Africa or the leeward islands.


The first record we have of Alexander is in Richmond County, Va, at the mouth of the Rappahannock River in 1705. He's in a lawsuit against a William Smith. Also, he's in a lawsuit against a Colonel John Battaile. This John Battaile lived in St. Mary's Parish of Essex County. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Major Lawrence Smith. The William Smith with whom John Battaile had a court confrontation appears to have been a son of Lawrence Smith and therefore John Battaile's brother-in-law.

Lawrence Smith was b. 29 Mar 1629, Burnley Parish, in England. Interestingly, Burnley Parish is no more than 20 miles northeast of Liverpool. Could this be the man who seated Alexander Sinkler? He seated hundreds of others in Virginia on the Rappahannock. He is the son of Christopher and Elizabeth (TOWNLEY-HALSTEAD) SMITH

Between 1657 and 1691, he had acquired thousands of acres of land through headright grants, land given to sponsors who transported settlers to the colonies from England. In 1662, he and Robert Taliaferro were granted 6300 acres on the Rappahannock, and in 1663, was in charge of building forts against the Indians on the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers.

The Taliaferro family has a connection to the Battailes. That connection is spelled out in a book by Jefferson Sinclair Selden, Jr. The Taliaferro's married into the Sinclairs who supposedly descended from Henry Sinclair, the kidnapped son of the Earl of Caithness. This may be heresay, but we have some circumstantial evidence that it's fact.

Another passenger on the Loyalty with Alexander was Edward Thornicraft. We found a 1705 patent of Daniel Mackgirt (Magirt) and James Gibbins for 3700 acres of land in Essex County which they received for the importation of 74 persons including Edward Thornecraft. The only other name on this list which can also be found on the Loyalty, is that of John Dobson.

It appears that Daniel Magirt and James Gibbins were land speculators who bought up the indentures of those recently transported in order to acquire a large tract of land.

It is interesting, but may be a coincidence, that the land of Magirt and Gibbins on Occupation (Occupacia) Creek was only about 20 miles from the land of Lawrence Smith in present day Carline County. No further reference to Edward Thornecraft has been found.


By 1706, we know that Alexander was in Stafford County Va., (source - John Mercer Land Book) further upstream of Richmond County and what was, then, a complete backwater. We know that, by 1714, he had one slave. By 1724, he had 24,000 tobacco plants in Overwharton Parish, Va. In his house at that time was a man named William Stone. This Stone led us to Barbados, but more on that later.

He had many children. But we do not know the identity of this wife.

The naming of his children might be a clue to help us identify name of father and grandfather. The first son born would be named after the father's father. The first daughter born would be named after the mother's mother. The second son born would be named after the father's grandfather. The second daughter born would be named after the mother's grandmother.

Here are some of the children and their children -

Alexander's children
Amos (?)

If Alexander followed strict scottish naming tradition, then we know his father's name was John. His children's choices of names may provide clues as well.

1. John Sinkler
(wife-Elizabeth Williams(?))

Known marriages of John's children -
(he has 3 kids whose marriages are either unknown or they never married)
Elizabeth Darnell
Margaret Darnell
Sarah Ann Morehead
Nancy Winn
David Herndon
Josiah Bayse(Boyce)

Wayman married _______Shirley)
The Shirley family was quite famous in Virginia. Her parents, Richard and Mary Shirley. However, we do not know Wayman's wife's first name.
He later married Hestor Smallwood (Smith) Linton

Children of Wayman:

Alexander (No record of marraige, thought to have died in KY.
Isaac, m. Latitia Douglas
Robert, m. Ruth Palmer
George, m. Martha "Patsy" Palmer
Margaret (No Marriage record)
Wayman, m. Mary Watts
Elizabeth, m. Henry Priest

Children of Robert and Ruth Palmer:

Elizabeth, m. Claeb Browning
Isaac, m. Frances Carter
George, m. Elizabeth Walker Snodgrass
Martha "Patsy", m. Moses Waldron
Nancy, m. John DeLaFayette Patterson
Robert, m. Lucinda "Lucy" Patterson
"Capt." Thomas, m. Rachael Litton
John, m. Elizabeth "Betsy" Patterson
Samuel, m. Ruth Rally (Raleigh?)
Rachael, m. Joseph Feazel

Three of Robert Sinkler's children married sibbling Pattersons. They were children of Edward Taylor Patterson, who was the son of William, son of Thomas, who was born in Scotland in 1657, and immigrated to Virginia, where he died in 1765. Thomas may have come about the same time as Alexander, since they were close to the same age.

Mary Sinkler (husband Edward Wilbourn)
Richard Wilbourn
Edward A. Wilbourn

5. MARGARET SINCLAIR: Married Francis Tennell

6. Patience St. Clair m. William Young
There is a Yonge Branch of Bull Run, a stream very near to where Alexander's property was.

7. ELIZABETH SINKLER: Married Charles Jones.

8. SARA SINCLAIR: Married Robert C. Colclough

I have not attached all of Alexr's grandchildren. They can be sent later if deemed necessary. I'll have to dig a bit more to find them.

The Tennell Family

Alexander's daughter, Margaret married Francis Tennell in 1740
Alexander bought land with Francis Tennell in 1743 in Fraqueir County, Va.
According to William H. Douglas, (, the Tennell family decends from French Hugenauts from Picardy, France. These people migrated to America in the early 1700's.
I have found no other references to this family.

The Wayman Family

Alexander named one of his son's this unusual name. Jean Grigsby has spent many years trying to understand why. It's obviously an important name in the family as Wayman named his son Wayman Jr.  Wayman and Young families are among those covered in B.C. Holtzclaw's "Ancestry and Descendants of the Nassau-Siegen Immigrants to Virginia, 1714-1750." But I found no Sinclair mentions anywhere in this book.

In the 1724 List of Tobacco Tenders of Overwharton Parish, a Edward Wayman and William Limbrich appear, managing 8019 plants. He was listed in proximity to Alexander's land.

The Young Family

PATIENCE SINKLER: Married William Young, from the Aristocratic Younge line. two children, William and Sarah. Alexander lived just north of a Young in Prince William County. There is a stream by that name near the property.

The Wilson Family

John Wilson, Steele's partner in Maryland and Barbadoes, mentions Sinclairs in his apparent Barbados will.

The Tippet Family

John Tippett lived on the same James Scott property in Richmond county with an Alexander Sinkler in 1718. James Scott, formerly of Sitenbourn Parish in Richmond County.

The Smith Family

Discussed above. The lawsuit, the marriages. The possible Caithness connection.

The Shirley Family

We know that Wayman married a _______ Shirley.

I've found a lot on the Shirleys in the tobacco business. A curious thing happened when I checked the Shirleys in the OPR. Before 1710 there were none in Scotland. Between 1762 and 1819, there were only 3. In the mid-1800's, there were about 50 birth and marriage records. Something caused them to move to Scotland. I suspect they moved back from the Colonies before or during the Revolution.

The Scott Family

Alexander was mentioned in the 1718 Will of James Scott. He and John Tippett lived on Scott's land. In 1711, Reverend Alexander Scott, son of Rev. John on Dipple, crosses and settles in Overwharton Parish.

The Rev. Alexander Scott, the first rector of Overwhaton Parish, continued to be the rector in the time period when Alexander Sinkler was a tobacco tender in the parish.

On 10 July 1727, Rev. Alexander Scott received a NN Grant for 2823 acres of land on the border of Stafford and King George County which was bounded by Carters Run of the Rappahannock, Broad Run of the Occaquan and the Rappahannock Mountains. (Bull Run Mtns.) This land was in the same general area as the Northern Neck Grant of the same date received by Valentine Barton for 377 acres between Broad Run and Bull Run. Barton later sold his land to Alexander Sinkler.

The Rev. Alexander Scott of Overwhaton Parish, Stafford, and his brother, the Rev. James Scott of Dettingen Parish, Prince William; were sons of Reverend John Scott of Dipple Parish of Elginshire (later called Morayshire), Scotland.

The Redish Family

We know that Alexander witnessed the will of James Redish in 1736. Francis Tennel also witnessed this will.

The Palmer Family

Two of Wayman's children married into the Palmer family, marrying Ruth Palmer and Martha Palmer.

The Patterson Family

Three of Robert Sinkler's children married sibbling Pattersons. They were children of Edward Taylor Patterson, who was the son of William, son of Thomas Patterson, who was born in Scotland in 1657, and immigrated to Virginia, where he died in 1765. A Patterson was in the same Sugar house owned by the Bogle empire.

The Monteith Family

Thomas Sinkler, who lived very near to Alexr, indentured himself to a John Wheeler for the term of five years to pay off a debt to a Thomas Monteith. There is a Monteith connection in Scotland to the St. Clairs of Rosslyn. There is no other Monteith connection that I've found with the Sinclairs of any other branch of the family. The area was not widely populated. Yet we find this Thomas Sinkler living in Prince William County very eary. I suspect he's related, but we have no proof yet.

The Kerr Family

We have done extensive research on this family and it's connections to the Sinclairs. They are many.

We found that in 1778, the British captured a ship called "Caswell" which was bound from Virginia to Bordeaux. (this French connection, given the name Tennell, is interesting). It was lading with 83 hogsheads of tobacco which was put aboard at Richmond on the James River. 69 of the hogsheads of tobacco belonged to Sinclair & Hepburn. Other owners of the tobacco on board were Samuel & R. Price, George Kerr, Thomas Williamson and Scott & Sankey.

The George Kerr was of Williamsburg. We think him related to Alexander Kerr of Williamsburg.

James Sinclair, Lord Rosslyn about 1670, has a daughter, Helen, born March 15, 1670 married Henry Kerr of Gredane in the Mers.

In 1781, John Kerr and the Nancy Sinclair the case of The Nancy and John Kerr and John Sinclair illustrate a further relationship.

The Fitzhugh Family

Alexander became a tenant of one of William Fitzhugh's children by around 1706.

An interesting relationship has been discovered between the Battaile, Taliaferro and Fitzhugh families. In letters of Wm. Fitzhugh James, the Va. researcher, found the following: 1689 letter from Wm. Fitzhugh to Christopher Robinson* "If you would immediately set up a Receiver, or appoint one here, as Jno. Battaile or Jas. Taylor, I would sell as much goods to Rappahannockers, as would answer that debt of yours . . ."

Letter from Wm. Fitzhugh to Mr. John Cooper. Date thought to be 1690-1692. (John Cooper was Wm. Fitzhugh's London Factor.)  Mentions Mr. Jno. Taliaferro of Rappahannock "who will never draw more than he will immediately have affects to answer." (Among consigners which he could rcommend in Virginia.)

Footnote: John Taliaferro (d. 1715) of "Snow Creek" was sheriff of Essex County in 1700 and burgess in 1699. Probably was the son of frontier soldier Robert Taliaferro who owned lands in Gloucester and Rappahannock and died in 1682. John Taliaferro married, Sarah, daughter of Lawrence Smith of Gloucester.

The Colclough Family

SARA SINCLAIR, daughter of Alex, married Robert C. Colclough, aristocratic family. Children, Charity and Alexander (may have been named for uncle, Alexander Colclough rather than Sarah's father.) We have found this name in Scotland under different spellings.

The Graham Family

Wayman's mother-in-Law was a Graham. A John Graham was in the Easter Sugar Works, a company in Glasgow owned by the Bogle empire, as early as 1736.

The Glasford Family

We have found that Alexander and his family were trading with a Glafsord.  Jonet Glasfoord married a Robert Sincler in Edinburgh in 1658.   A company, in 1774, Glassford, Gordon, Monteath & Company was in the County of Prince William.

The Fielding Family

Alex's son John carried the name Fielding down in his line. If John was the first son, then this is indeed an important name.   A letter from a Samll Sinkler in 1667 of Westmoreland County to a Major Peirce mentions a Mr. Fielding in Bristow (Bristol?). Also mentions his father Mr. John Sinckler merchant, in Colleraine Ballamony. This is not the first possible Irish connection we've seen.

The Douglas Family

Issac Sinclair, grandson of Alexander, married Letitia Douglas, daughter of Joseph Douglas, descendant of the Douglases of Mains, whose ancestor emigrated to Maryland from Glasgow in the tobacco trade. This seems like an important marriage.   In Scotland, in 1653, Robert Sinclair married Barbara Douglas in Haddington Parrish. There were other "recent" Sinclair/Douglas marriages.   A ROBERT DOUGLAS married a MARION ST. CLAIR in 1699 in Haddington Parrish outside Stevenson.

The Bogle Family

Bogle and Co. vs Sinclair's heirs, 3 Feb, 1767- Special Imparlance- Loudoun County   Two companies were busy trading, first tobacco, then other products like sugar: Bogle & Scott or Bogle, Somerville & Co. Of course, the Bogle empire extended quite wide by the 1720's   In the Bogle Papers, we found mention of a Robert Sinclair who we believe is our Alexr's son, as the Bogles did not trade in the north east of this country.

A letter from George Bogle jnr to his father, London, 19 August 1727: ..........."Mr Carstaires writes me he has no receipt for the arrack? but that it was delivered to one James Hail/Hall sailing with Robert Sinclair. As to the teaä" Mr. Carstaires was the company's agent in Rotterdam.

A Robert Bogle was involved with the Masons in Scotland and in Virginia. This may help to explain how our Alexander mixed so easily with the English in a society that did not like the Scots at the time. We are searching for records to see if Alexander could have been a Mason.


My researcher in Richmond was reading "Revolutionary Brotherhood, Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840," by Steven C. Bullock. In a section discussing "the fraternal connection among diverse men" he found mention that "Brother Robert Bogle represented his father's Glasgow firm in Port Royal." Robert Bogle was a member of the Port Royal Lodge which often met with the Fredericksburg Lodge.

The inference here is that even though many of the Ancient brothers were of Scottish background, they were able to participate and do business in this primarily English society due to their Masonic connections.

A historical note which may help us to understand a few events: It seems that the Fitzhughs, and other large landowners who established large tobacco growing operations farther inland along the Rappahannock River, had trouble (pre-1700s) obtaining the best slaves and the best prices for their tobacco. The incoming ships would do business along the coast and the "inland" planters would get what business was left. The slaves would be picked over and the tobacco was sometimes not at it's prime when it got to market. (The plantations in Stafford, etc. were also becoming larger than the older ones along the coast and needed more slave labor.)

Some historians think the Scottish merchants took advantage of this situation by using agents who would go to these inland areas and conduct business. The tobacco shipments would go to Scotland (sometimes through Maryland) avoiding the delays caused by the regulations in the English ports. Tarrifs were also avoided.

This may help to explain the apparent good relationships between the Scottish merchants & agents and the wealthy English Rappa. Planters.

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