William "the Seemly" Sinclair of Roslin

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William "the Seemly" Sinclair of Roslin, 1st Lord of Roslin

Also Known As: "de St. Clair", "de Saint-Clair"
Birthplace: St. Clair-sur-Elle, Manche, Normandy, France
Death: circa 1078 (41-58)
Northumberland, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Waldonius, count of Saint-Clair and Helena "le Bon"
Husband of Dorothy, of Dunbar
Father of Henry Sinclair of Roslin and Sir Valdonias de Sanct-Claro
Brother of Richard de Saint-Clair; Mauger II de Saint-Clair; Countess Agnes de Saint-Clair and Henri de Saint-Clair

Occupation: 1st Lord of Roslin
Managed by: Douglas John Nimmo
Last Updated:

About William "the Seemly" Sinclair of Roslin

William "the Seemly" de Saint-Clair (Sinclair) (c1028-c1078), 1st Lord of Roslin. He was called "the Seemly" because of demeanor and appearance. He was "well-proportioned in all his members, of midle stature, faire of face, yellow hair'd." As a youth, he was attached to the household of Margaret, the sister of Edgar the Aetheling, who was the dispossed heir to the English throne. He went with her to Scotland in 1068, where she eventually married Malcolm III. William became her cupbearer and was granted the the barony of Roslin in "free heritage".

He was killed in an English raid. He "rushed forward, with a design to put the enimie out of ordre, but being enclosed by the contrary party, he was slain by the multitude of his enimies, whereof he made fall many in heaps flat down before his feet."

Traditional Ancestry of the Sinclairs

According to the traditional ancestry of the Sinclairs, Richard II, 4th Duke of Normandy, had three sons: (a) Richard III, 5th Duke of Normandy, (b) Robert the Devil, 6th Duke of Normandy, and (c) Mauger.

Mauger held the town of Saint-Lô and the land to the north, between the Vire and Elle Rivers. He built a castle and church there, giving it the name Saint-Clair. Some sources say he married the heiress of Saint-Clair de Bassenville. He had three sons: (a) Hamon, Walderne, and Hubert. Hamon and Walderne were killed at the Battle of Val-ès-Dunes (1047).

Walderne had four children: (a) Richard, (b) Britel, (c) William, and (d) Agnes. Richard and Britel went to England with William the Conqueror and received estates there. They are both mentioned in the Domesday Book. William

He might or might not have been a son of Mauger.

Revised Ancestry of the Sinclairs

Now new research indicates that the ORIGINAL account of the Sinclairs of Rosslyn, that was written in the 17TH Century by Father Richard Augustin Hay, states that William Sinclair was the son of Robert de Saint Clair of Normandy and his mother was Eleanor De Dreux, daughter of Sir Robert, second Comte de Dreux and Jolan (Yolande) of Coucy, his wife. Father Hay lived with the Sinclairs and he was their family priest and steward. Moreover, his mother also married into the Sinclair family making him their kin. In 1835 a copy of Father Hays book that he wrote about the Sinclairs in the 17TH Century titled: GENEALOGY OF THE SINCLAIRS OF ROSSLYN, with notes by an unidentified editor, changed his information about the Sinclairs and replaced it with the unknown editor's own version of the Sinclair genealogy citing Waldonius as the father of William Sinclair!

However, Burkes Peerage and the Scots Peerage support Father Hay's work by stating that Robert de Saint Clair, and not Waldron nor Henry Sinclair of Roskelyn, was the father of William Sinclair. (Burke's only refers to Henry de Roskelyn). It may be that William Sinclair, who married Amicia the daughter of Henry de Roskelyn, was his son-in-law and held Rosslyn in right of his wife, though there is no evidence that Henry de Roskelyn, or his daughter, were Sinclairs. The charter by which William Sinclair gained Roslin in 1279 mentions only Henry de Roskelyn as the previous possessor, and no previous charters have come down to us. BURKES PEERAGE doesn't include a second marriage of William Sinclair to Matilda (Maud) Nesbit of Orkney, but many other sources list this union. Still another source, SAINT-CLAIRS OF THE ISLES, by Roland William Saint Clair, 1898, page 277 use THE SCOTS PEERAGE as a source that also records the possible father-son relationship between William Sinclair and Robert de Saint Clair, using a dotted line, and it records the De Dreux lineage. Robert de Saint Clair's father is recorded in many pedigree trees and some books as being Robert DE Chaumont and his mother is Richilde De Saint Clair; as you continue back in time one discovers the interwoven relationship between the families of: Dreux, Chaumont, Saint Clair, Gisor and Payen.

Source: Wikipedia, Talk:Clan Sinclair, visited Aug. 3, 2013.

DNA Testing

DNA tests on different modern branches of the Sinclair family show a diverse origin. There is currently (2013) a debate about which results indicate the "ducal line".

"The connection to France is simply that there were place names in France called Saint Clair (Sancto Claro). However, there was a St. Cleer (also originally Sancto Claro) in Cornwall. Much hype and speculation out there, but very little documentary evidence. DNA evidence shows that the Sinclairs of Roslin and Kincaids are fairly closely related (albeit probably before surnames) and seem to have more in common with southwest England than with France." (Peter Kincaid, soc.genealogy.medieval, Jan. 5, 2012.)


Leonard Allison Morrison, History of the Sinclair Family in Europe and America (1896).

Wikpedia, Clan Sinclar, visited Aug. 3, 2013.

Accompanied King William the Conqueror to England in 1066.

William I (about 1027/28 – 9 September 1087), better known as William the Conqueror (French: Guillaume le Conquérant), was Duke of Normandy from AD 1035 and King of England from late 1066 to his death. William is sometimes also referred to as "William II" in relation to his position as the second Duke of Normandy of that name. In particular, before his conquest of England, he was known as "William the Bastard" (French: Guillaume le Bâtard) because of the illegitimacy of his birth.

To press his claim to the English crown, William invaded England in 1066, leading an army of Normans, Bretons, Flemings, and Frenchmen to victory over the English forces of King Harold Godwinson (who died in the conflict) at the Battle of Hastings, and suppressed subsequent English revolts in what has become known as the Norman Conquest.

His reign, which brought Norman-French culture to England, had an impact on the subsequent course of England in the Middle Ages. The details of that impact and the extent of the changes have been debated by scholars for over a century. In addition to the obvious change of ruler, his reign also saw a programme of building and fortification, changes to the English language, a shift in the upper levels of society and the church, and adoption of some aspects of continental church reform. More controversial are possible changes in law, royal administration, trade, agriculture, the peasantry, women's roles and rights, and education.

Came to England with his first cousin, William the Conqueror, and fought with him at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Escorted King Malcolm’s bride, the Saxon princess Margaret, from the court of Hungary, where she was brought up, to Scotland. Known as ‘the Seemly St Clair for his ‘fair deportment’ he was made cup-bearer to Queen Margaret and granted the Barony of Rosslyn in 1070. He was also made Warden of the Southern Marches with responsibility for defending Scotland’s border against the frequent attacks of the English, and on one of these expeditions he was killed.

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William "the Seemly" Sinclair of Roslin's Timeline

St. Clair-sur-Elle, Manche, Normandy, France
Rosslyn Castle, Roslin, Scotland (United Kingdom)
Age 50
Northumberland, England
Accompanied King William TC to England in 1066.
Norman knight