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James Sinclair


JAMES SINCLAIR (1826-1891), SCOTTISH-AMERICAN COAL MINER
by William John Shepherd, Crofton, Maryland, USA

James Sinclair was the eldest son of coal miner and former weaver James Sinclair (1805-1874) and Janet Bennie (1802-1865). He was born 1 March 1826 and christened 19 March 1826 in the parish of Denny, county of Stirling, Scotland. His siblings were Andrew (b. 1827), Alexander (b. 1829), William (b. 1831), John (b. 1834), Jean (b. 1837), Christina (b. 1840), David (b. 1842), and Robert (b. 1844). His parents were married 7 November 1823 in the Bennie home parish of Denny. Janet’s father, Andrew Bennie (1777-1855), was both a farmer and a cattle dealer. The elder Sinclair was from Kilsyth, also in Stirlingshire, where his family had been weavers for generations. By the time of the 1841 census, the family was living at Carlingcroft Square, parish of Old Monkland, county of Lanark, Scotland, where James was employed as a coal miner, or collier as the Scots would say. Fifteen year old son James is not listed as working anywhere, which is odd as boys his age, and much younger, were generally employed. On 3 May 1846 young James, now a coal miner like his father, married Mary Paterson, daughter of blacksmith George Paterson (1796-1881) and Rachel Imrie (1801-1889) of the village of Gartsherrie, now part of Coatbridge, parish of Old Monkland, county of Lanark, Scotland.

The first child, also named James, was born about 1846-1847. Additional children were George (my great great grandfather) born 1 April 1848 and Alexander born about 1850. In the 1851 census, the family was living at Herriot Row, Gartsherrie, Lanarkshire, Scotland. By 1854 when son William was born, the family had moved to the parish of Bothwell, county of Lanark, Scotland. Several more children followed: Rachel Imrie born 18 November 1856, Robert born 6 February 1859, and Andrew born 21 January 1861. The 1861 census shows the family living near to James and Janet Sinclair on the Parish Road in Newarthill, parish of Bothwell, county of Lanark, Scotland. Sons James, age 14, and George, age 12 are listed as coal miners like their father and grandfather. By 1863 the family was living in the nearby village of Carfin. Son John was born 22 January 1863 but died 21 months later of Chlorosis on 17 November 1864. James lost his mother Janet Bennie Sinclair the following year as she died of Inflammation of the Chest at Carfin on 1 November 1865. Another child, born 10 February 1865, was also named John. The last two children were Janet born 18 September 1866 and Mary born 1 July 1868.  

In 1870, James moved his family from Scotland to America, although the two eldest sons, James and George appear to have remained home in Scotland. James, Mary, and the other eight children sailed from Glasgow on the Steam Ship Australia, in steerage, under Master John Hedderwick, and arrived at Castle Garden, port of New York, on 16 June 1870. All arrived safely and they shortly settled in the small coal mining town of Arnot in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, where James could continue his occupation. Wife Mary died sometime after this and before 1875 when he married again, to Elizabeth Hunter, on 16 May 1875 at Mansfield, near Arnot, in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. They would eventually have 4 children: David born on 4 August 1876, Helen born about 1877, Thomas born about 1878, and an unnamed daughter born 30 June 1880. James applied to the Tioga County Court for naturalization as a US citizen on 27 August 1877 and was sworn at a US citizen on 28 August 1879.  The 1880 Federal census shows the family living at Arnot, Bloss Township, Tioga County, Pennsylvania. Mary Paterson's children John and Christina were living at home as were the children of Elizabeth Hunter, in addition to her mother, Margaret Hunter. Daughter Rachel had married 13 October 1874 to James Blair and son Andrew on 29 November 1878 to Ann Hutchinson. Son Robert appears to have been married by this time as well, to a woman named Margaret. At present there is no further information regarding sons Alexander and William or daughter Mary.

Back in Scotland, the old son, James, was married about 1868 to Isabella Condie of Fife. The 1881 census shows them living in Bothwell, county of Lanark, and thereafter, in 1891 and 1901, in the town of Buckhaven, parish of Wemyss, county of Fife. The second son, George, was married 18 June 1872 in the parish of Bothwell, county Lanark, Scotland, to Sarah Lyons, daughter of Irish born coal miner Robert Lyons and Sarah Macready. George brought his family to America, via New York, in 1881, and settled in Arnot to work like his father in the coal mines there.  The coal there was rapidly being exhausted so George and family moved near Houtzdale, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania in 1890. James died at the age of 65 in Arnot on 21 October 1891, exactly two weeks after his fourteen year old son David, and both were buried in Arbon Cemetery, Blossburg, Tioga County, Pennsylvania.  His widow survived for some years and did not remarry. She died 23 September 1912 and was buried alongside her husband and son.

SOURCES:

Clearfield County Court House
Clearfield County Historical Society
LDS Family History Library

     International Genealogical Index (IGI)
     Old Parochial Registers (OPR)
     Scottish Church Records on CD Rom

National Archives:

    
Census Records
     Passenger and Immigration Lists, New York

Scottish Record Office via Scottish Family Search

    
Census Records
     Civil Registration: Births, Marriages, Deaths
     Parish Registers

Tioga County Historical Society

Thanks to William J. Shepherd for sending this in