The Sinclair Family
At the time of his death in 1703 Sinclair had established a strong position for the family in the Leckpatrick parish and the Sinclair burial vault in Leckpatrick graveyard provides much information on the subsequent history of the family. There is a memorial plaque to the Rev. John Sinclair within the present Church of Ireland at Leckpatrick and this details the achievements of the clergyman and lists the family members. The memorial records that he was a determined opponent of Dissenters and a firm upholder of the Established Church and this very likely related to the various parishes under his care. There is a suggestion that the memorial plaque was originally erected in the church at Strabane and was only removed to Leckpatrick at the time of the building of the new Christ Church in Camus parish in the 1860s.2
The Sinclair family vault and associated memorials occupies a prominent position in the graveyard. A number of the memorials, probably detailing the deaths of family members in the eighteenth century, are indecipherable but the symbols and parts of the lettering can still be recognised and these show striking similarities to other seventeenth and eighteenth century memorials in the cemetery. The information on the family from the late eighteenth century memorials onwards provide details of the marriage connections that enabled the Sinclair interests to expand during the following decades and also illustrate the twentieth century decline. The last of the Sinclair male line, William, had married an American heiress, Elizabeth, but there had been no further family and the widow had passed on the remnants of the estate to a distant relative, Captain Adair, in the late 1950s.
The present owner of Hollyhill House, Hamilton Thompson, has worked to restore much of the original house and is well versed in the history of the Sinclair family and their association with Hollyhill. The gravestone inscriptions provide little information on the deceased apart from dates and family connections; one noteworthy exception is that of William Sinclair who lived from 1810 until 1896 and was said to be ‘not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; giving thanks at all times to God.’ It was William’s father, James, who had provided the foundation for the family’s prosperity and position in the nineteenth century. In letters to Abercorn’s agent, James Hamilton, in the early nineteenth century James Sinclair had despaired of reviving the ailing fortunes of the family but an advantageous marriage to a Donegal heiress, Dorothea Law, and careful estate management had enabled him to place the family fortunes on a firm basis.
2 J.B.Leslie – Derry Clergy and Parishes (1937) in Clergy of Derry and Raphoe by F.W.Fawcett and D.W.T.Crooks (Belfast 1999)