Wednesday, 8 November 2017

1st Viscount Thurso

THE SINCLAIR BARONETS, LATER VISCOUNTS THURSO, WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN THE COUNTY OF CAITHNESS, WITH 78,053 ACRES


This family, which descends from George, 4th Earl of Caithness, has possessed the lands of Ulbster, in an uninterrupted succession, for more than two centuries.

There is a charter extant, dated 1615, from the 4th Earl, confirming "for the particular love and favour that he bears his much beloved cousin, John Sinclair, of Ulbster, all and hail the town and lands of Ulbster etc" to the said

JOHN SINCLAIR, which grant was afterwards sanctioned by the Crown.

From this John Sinclair lineally descended

JOHN SINCLAIR (1691-1736), of Ulbster, Heritable Sheriff of the County of Caithness, who married, in 1714, Henrietta, daughter of George Brodie, and had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
James;
John;
Emilia.
Mr Sinclair was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE SINCLAIR, who wedded Janet, daughter of William, Lord Strathnaver, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Helen; Mary; Janet.
Mr Sinclair died in 1766, and was succeeded by his son,

THE RT HON SIR JOHN SINCLAIR (1754-1835), of Ulbster and Thurso Castle, who espoused firstly, in 1776, Sarah, daughter of Alexander Maitland, of Stoke Newington, by whom he had a daughter, Janet; and secondly, in 1788, Diana, daughter of Alexander, 1st Baron Macdonald, and had issue,
GEORGE, his successor;
Alexander;
John;
Archibald;
William;
James;
Elizabeth Diana; Margaret; Julia; Catherine; Helen.
Mr Sinclair was created a baronet in 1786, denominated of Ulbster.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR GEORGE SINCLAIR (1790-1868), 2nd Baronet, of Ulbster, who wedded, in 1816, Catherine, daughter of William, Lord Huntingtower, and had issue,

SIR JOHN GEORGE TOLLEMACHE SINCLAIR DL MP (1825-1912), 3rd Baronet, of Ulbster, who married, in 1853, Emma Isabella Harriet, daughter of William Standish Standish.

His grandson,

THE RT HON SIR ARCHIBALD HENRY MacDONALD SINCLAIR (1890-1970), 4th Baronet, KT, CMG, JP, of Ulbster, espoused, in 1918, Marigold, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel James Stewart Forbes.

Sir Archibald was elevated to the peerage, in 1952, as VISCOUNT THURSO, of Ulbster in the County of Caithness.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, the Hon James Alexander Robin Sinclair.

THE CASTLE, Thurso, Caithness, was built in the 1870s by the architect David Smith for Sir Tollemache Sinclair, 3rd Baronet, replacing the original castle of about 1660.

The Victorian castle was built in the style of a French chateau close to the shore on the east of the river mouth.

During the 2nd World War, a sea mine exploded nearby and the castle became structurally unsafe.

Consequently, much of it was demolished to make it safe in 1952.


The contractor who had the job of taking the roof off and demolishing other parts to make it safe was paid by being allowed to keep the lead from the roof.

What is left standing shows the height and number of floors that made it a very impressive structure given its position on the coast where it could be seen a long way off.

Its position gave it marvellous views over Thurso Bay.

First published in November, 2013.

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