Saturday, June 22, 2013

Surname Soup

The Engrailed Cross on a St Clair grave in
Herdmanston Chapel.
Photo by Steve St. Clair, October 2012.

(click to enlarge)
Digging around in medieval records can be both fascinating and frustrating at the same time.

The newest page on the St Clair / Sinclair DNA website is about our recently proven Herdmanston St Clairs, now proven to be P310+, U106-, P312- (otherwise known as L11*).

Today, as I was looking through the lengthy list of names on the Family Tree DNA study page that includes L11, I was struck by two names -
  • Mandeville
  • Wishart
Because they share the L11* SNP (Wishart needs to confirm) with our Herdmanston St Clairs, it's safe to say they share a common ancestor - at least until further SNPs are discovered. But then I remembered the witnesses to a particular record of some importance in our family - the granting of the lands of Roslin to the Sinclair family.

14 September 1279, Traquair - "Alexander, king of Scots, gives notice that, since Henry of Roslin, tenant of his lands of Roslin (MLO) and Catcune (nr Borthwick, MLO), has resigned and quitclaimed these lands to him by rod and staff, he has given to William Sinclair, knight, said lands of Roslin and Catcune, doing service of half a knight"
The witnesses to this grant of land could be instructive:

  • Robert Wishart, bishop of Glasgow (d.1316) 
  • William Fraser, bishop of St Andrews (d.1297) 
  • Gilbert de Umfraville, earl of Angus (d.1307)
  • William Comyn of Kilbride (d.c.1283)
  • Simon Fraser (d.1291×92)
  • Bernard Mowat (son of Michael)
  • William Bisset, knight (late 13C)
  • Patrick Graham, knight (d.1296)
Source - People of Medieval Scotland. Their source, Newbattle Registrum, Cartae originales, no. 6 - RRS, iv, no. 126

Saint-Clair-sur-Elle, in the department of Manche,
on the Cotetin Peninsula, France (click to enlarge)
Witnesses to land records often had a personal connection with the grantee; sometimes a blood connection. For instance, Hamo St. Clair (who received the creation of the baronies of Eaton Socon and Walkern) was closely allied with de Mandeville (Vincent, p. 243). There's a great article on Eaton Socon at British History Online

There's a great paper on this St. Clair / Mandeville connection in the 1998 Proceedings of the Battle Conference.  I own this book and highly recommend you buy it. A footnote on page 243 states "The St Clair family, for whom the baronies of Eaton Socon and Walkern were created, were former tenants of Eudo Dapifer, both in England and their birthplace, Saint-Clair-sur-Elle, dep. Manche;" (Anglo Norman Studies, p. 243)  They credit Lewis C. Loyd's Origins of Some Anglo-Norman Families, which I also recommend buying.

In another blog post I wrote back in February 2013, I discussed how some of these same names all showed up in a DNA SNP group called L257+. That SNP isn't in our Sinclair DNA study at all.

But now these surnames are showing a direct hit with our St Clair Herdmanston Lineage.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Sources - 
"Anglo-Norman Studies XXI: Proceedings of the Battle Conference 1998" edited by Christopher Harper-Bill, Boydell & Brewer, 1999  ISBN 0 85115 745 9

POMS - website, People of Medieval Scotland

Vincent, Nicholas, "Warin and Henry Fitz Gerald, The King's Chamberlains" The Origins of the Fitzgeralds Revisited. Presented to "Anglo-Norman Studies 21: Proceedings of the Battle Conference 1998," edited by Christopher Harper-Bill, Boydell & Brewer, 1999


  1. Steve Nice Job! I love your commitment to multiple sources and DNA to prove(Highly Calculated)family connections. I didn't even know their was a Herdmanston St. Clair still alive, obviously I need to do more research my self, maybe I could add a little something to the project.