Will of William Sinclair Senior

Below [will be] a transcription of a transcription: the text is taken from a copy, typed in blue on onion-skin paper [suggesting it is a carbon copy] then hand corrected in black ink, of the handwritten will of William Sinclair.

The typed copy was glued inside a paper folder, on the outside surface of which genealogical information was pencilled. The folder and copy of the will were preserved in the back of Nina Cameron Walley’s [neé Graham — see Jane Sinclair page] copy of Women of Red River, a book given to her by Sherriff Colin Inkster [see Mary Sinclair page].

I have transcribed the notation on the folder and include it here. The original is faded and difficult to read because scrawled and marred by torn folds. Indications of my uncertainty, and/or interpretive elaboration, are highlighted in blue.

Examination of the writing style and distinctive character of individual letters, for example ‘G’ and ‘H’, and comparison with other samples of Nina’s husband’s writing, indicates that Cecil S. Walley was the author of the folder’s notation. There are question marks that were Cecil’s, suggesting he was uncertain about some of the information. The writing appears to have been dashed off in a hurry, presumably during a conversation, or immediately following one — perhaps Cecil was marking points he wished to confirm or pursue in greater depth afterward.

Folder Notation:


Phoebe Married Dr Bunn Liveryman City of London at 14 years

of age Husband over

80 [? 40? 30? 60? 90?]

Catherine married Jos [Joseph] Cook

Jane Married Kirkness ?

Ann S Married Spencer ? HBCoy Trader

Mary Married Colin Inkster’s Jame ? [James, but should be John]

William Chief Factor HBCoy married daughter of Wm McKay’s on BC trip

John S married  L Delorme [? extremely faded] po ssibl went with Mormons at Salt Lake

So Colin told ACC [account]

James – made remarkable trip to Oregon with party [? forty? fifty?] Colonist

shot by indians at Wala Wala – post HBC —


— Had commission from

imperial to colonize as far

State of Oregon [smudged, as though erased and rewritten] – Colony [written over what looks to have originally been ‘Settle’]

settled in Willamet valley

Oregon – Sinclair cannion

named after his remarkable

trip took [? lost?] only 1 child Stranton [? Maria?]

from Red River – appeared [? apparently?]

mad he met Colin in

California 1849 Colin

burried St Johns was

supposed to be drowned

on atlantic coast where

a tombstone was

Thomas – Magistrate buried at St Andrews Member council of assnbiy [assiniboia]

Colin Sea Captain California round the horn in 1840 [? 1849?]

and [? died & ?] burried St Johns cemetery near his mother

Thomas married Cummings 1st



Thomas             Cuthbert             Margaret

/              ——-married              married

—-Mowat                Clare Jr. Chief Factor HBCo

/                           Governor of Assiniboia

/–/—/—/—-/—-/                —-died was buried

Russel Garden in London [Russell Garden is a street name — there are 4 — or perhaps something like Highgate Cemetery (see also Wikipedia article with photographs) near Russell Square was meant?]

at the age of 38 — 1867


James                         Arthur



Char [Charlotte] Bes [Bessie] Ann       san [Susan] Jam [James]

Transcribed Typescript of the Original Handwritten Will:

Note: underlined portions correspond to handwritten corrections inserted into the typescript. Comparison of the handwritten corrections on the copy and other samples of the handwriting of Sheriff Colin Inkster indicates that he was responsible for having had the transcription done. Hyphens indicating typist-determined line breaks have been retained, though they do not appear in the original [Archives of Manitoba, MG1 D15], nor, for the most part are any punctuation marks clearly visible. Other deviations of the typescript from the original will (eventually) be noted in endnotes; as will deviations from the copy typed by Ellen Leask (30 March 1923) and archived at the same location in H.B.C.Arch. Wm. Sinclair file. Links to biographical information about the persons named will also (eventually) be added.


I WILLIAM SINCLAIR of Orkney but now in the service of the Honourable Hudson’s [1] Bay Company at York Factory Hayes River Ruperts Land being of sound and disposing mind and memory do make and declare this to be my last Will and Testament in manner following that is to say I order all my first [sic[2]] debts and the charges of proving this my Will be in the first place fully paid and satisfied and after payment of every part thereof I give and bequeath all the monies effects and landed property I am or may be possessed of as follows.-      To my eldest son[3] William Sinclair I bequeath the sum of five[4] hundred pounds Three per cents[5] to[6] my three beloved Daughters, Phoebe, Catherine and Jane,[7] I bequeath the sum of One hundred and fifty pounds sterling[8] to be paid out of monies due to me by the Honorable[9] Hudson’s[10] Bay Com-pany and divided into three equal shares of Fifty pounds sterling each To my other two much beloved Daughters Ann and Mary I leave two hundred pounds 3 per cents[11] each.     To my very much beloved sons,[12] John, James, Thomas and Colin Sinclair, I bequeath the sum of two thousand one hundred pounds 3 per cents [13] share and share alike and to my beloved Wife Nahovway, mother[14] of all the aforementioned children[15] I leave the interest only of three[16] hundred and fifty pounds 3 per cents[17] for her use and benefit during the term of her natural life and at her demise I will and direct that the aforementioned sum of £350 3 per cents[18] be given as follows,-     £200 3 per cents[19] to be annexed to the sum set apart for the benefit of my four younger sons[20] John, James, Thomas and Colin Sinclair, share and share alike and the remaining £150 3 per cents[21] to be appropriated to the use and benefit of my beloved Daughters Catherine and the children she has or may have by her pre-sent husband Mr. Joseph[22] Cook.      But further provided should Ann or Mary or both die without issue the sum bequeathed to her or them shall be added to the funded property set apart for the maintenance and support of the above mentioned four younger sons[23] John, James, Thomas and Colin Sinclair and[24] be it further observed that it is my particular wish &[25] will that on the death of John, James, Thomas or Colin Sinclair the share of him or them so happening to die without issue shall be paid share and share alike to their[26] survivor or survivors, And I hereby declare it to be my will[27] and desire to bequeath to my beloved Brother Thomas Sinclair as a particular mark of my brotherly[28] affection the Estate Known by the name of East on Quay in the Parish of Harra Island of Pomona Orkney, comprising a farm, farm house and detached cottage[29].     I also bequeath to my beloved Sisters Ann and Mary Sinclair the sum of One hundred pounds sterling each nearly the whole of which sum is now laying in the hands of Adam Isbester, Merchant Stromness and Joseph Halcro Trala[30] in the service of the Honorable[31] Hudson’s Bayy [sic[32] ] Company.      It is my particular wish that all the monies due to me by the Honorable[33] Hudson’s Bay Company and others save those due me by Adam Ivbester [sic[34]] and Joseph Halcro as aforesaid shall be received by Mr. Alexr. Lean my agent[35] in London and placed to interest in the Consolidated 3 per cents annuities[36] along with other founded property standing in my name and belonging to me, the interest arising from all which to be taken up annually for the sole benefit of my beloved wife Nayvoway and her children as provided by these presents and it is my wish that such portion of the interest to [sic[37]] paid annually into the hands of the Honorable Committee as may [sic] found necessary for the support of my family and the amount to be paid in goods required by them out of the Honorable Company’s warehouse agreeable to the sum regulated as necessary for that purpose by the Executors residing in Hudson’s Bay Any overplus sum of money that may annually arise after the sum is deducted for the use of my family shall be set apart and added to the stock bequeathed herein to the younger sons John, James, Thomas and Colin Sinclair should it so happen that William Sinclair my eldest son should die without issue the five hundred pounds 3 per cents bequeathed to him shall discend [sic] to and be added to the other property I have given John, James, Thomas and Colin Sinclair above mentioned and of all which property they are to share and share alike And I recommend my son William to the control and guardianship of


my Executors residing in Hudson’s Bay, until he arrives at years of discretion or to the age of twenty one when and not before he shall be at liberty to dispose of the interest of the property.     I have bequeathed to him as his own judgment and inclination may dictate and I hereby nominate, constitute and appoint Alexander Lean of Fenchurch Street, London, his son Mr. John Lean of the same place and Wm Hemmings Cook, Esq., and Mr. Alexander Kennedy of Ruperts Land to be the Executors of this my Will, revoking all former Wills by me at any time heretofore made and declared this only to be my last Will and Testament.      In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this fifth day of January in the year of our Lord On [sic] thousand eigh [sic] hundred and eighteen.     Wm. Sinclair (I.S.)     Signed sealed published and declared by the said William Sinclair Esq. as his last Will and testament [sic] in the pre-sence of us who in the presence of the Testator have hereunto subscribed our names.      Jas. Swain—Thos. Bunn— Wm. C. Woodthrop.

A quantity of wearing apparel belonging to me which I de-posited at Mr. Alam Isbesters Merchant Stromness. I desire to be given to my dear Brother Thomas Sinclair, as there is great reason to think that the same [sic] bequeathed to the four younger sons is ample and that the interest arising annually from which will far exceed their expenditure I wish to recommend to the Executors the propriety of allowing two of the younger sons to visit England (the Honorabl [sic] Committees permission being first obtained) to complete them in their situation after they arrive at the age of fourteen years and only to remain there so long as seems necessary to the friends executors and relations of the children in Hudson’s Bay— Wm. Sinclair——Jas. Swain—-Thos. Bunn——-Wm. C. Woodthorpe.

Taking into consideration the unsettled state of my personal property in this country and feeling the necessity of making a final arrangement of it I desire as follows,- It is my Will and determination to bequeath to my son William Sinclair all my books that are not disposed of, a gold seal and set of silver spoons with my initials on them, a tea caddy Dressing case with instruments, knives and forks and candlesticks. To my beloved friend Mr. Thomas Bunn, I leave the sum of Eight Guineas to purchase a ring which he will keep in remembrance of me. To Mr. W. H Cook my Executor I leave the sum of Ten Guineas for him to purchase agreeable to his own wishes some token of memorial of our long aquaintance and fiendship. To Mr. Alexr. Kennedy also my Executor I leave my Encyclo pedia [sic]. To Mr. Jas. Swain in consider-ation of the very long friendship and intimacy that has existed between us, I leave my watch chain. To Mr. Magis Kendall for his kind attention to me always, I desire that a full suit of my best superfine black cloaths be given to him. To Mr. Jas. Kirk-ness I give my silver watch and plan gold seal. And it is also my particular wish to leave to him all my wearing apparel includin [sic] shirts stockings neck cloths etc. for his own use and to do with as he may think proper. To Mr. Thos. Bunn, Mr. Jas. Kirkness and Josiah Cook, I leave all my crockery ware to be divided equally among them. It is my particular desire that all goods which may hereafter come to this country directed to me are to be under the direction of my Executors Messers Cook and Kennedy for the sole benefit of my family. All my private papers of every description to be put into the hands of Messers Cook & Bunn and they will immediately destroy all that is not relative to monied.


transactions. York Fort, April 1st. 1813 [sic]. William Sinclair—Jas. Swain—-Thos. Bunn Witnesses.

Will and two Codicils proved in the preregative [sic] Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury 27th. November 1819 and Administration granted to Alexander Kennedy one of the Executors power being reserved of making the like grant to John Lean and William Hemmings Cook two other of the Executors when they should apply for the same.

AND FURTHER on this 7th February 1834 in the same Court Administration was granted to the said William Hemmings Cook. Power reserved for making the like grant to the said John Lean one of the executors when he shall apply for the same. Alexander Lean and the other Executor having formerly renounced the probate and execution of the said Will and Codicils.

[To be continued]

[1] Possessive apostrophe not visible in original.

[2] Original reads “past”.

[3] Original: “Son”.

[4] Original: “Five”.

[5] Original displays symbol similar to ‘PCts‘.

[6] Original: “To”.

[7] Punctuation not visible in original.

[8] Original: “Sterling”.

[9] Original: “Honble”.

[10] Possessive apostrophe not visible in original.

[11] Original displays symbol similar to ‘PCts‘.

[12] Original: “Sons”, punctuation not visible.

[13] Original displays symbol similar to ‘PCts‘.

[14] Original: “Mother”, punctuation not visible.

[15] Original: “Children”.

[16] Original: “Three”.

[17] Original displays symbol similar to ‘PCts‘.

[18] Original displays symbol similar to ‘PCts‘.

[19] Original displays symbol similar to ‘PCts‘.

[20] Original: “Sons”, punctuation not visible.

[21] Original displays symbol similar to ‘PCts‘.

[22] Original: “Mr Josh“, punctuation not visible.

[23] Original: “Sons”.

[24] Original: “And”.

[25] Original: “and”.

[26] Original shows a stumble: “the their”.

[27] Original: “Will”.

[28] Original: “Brotherly”.

[29] Original: “Cottage”.

[30] Original seems to read Traba, which might refer to a place name, more properly, Trava in Portugal, though I am surprised to find a Hudson’s Bay Company man with such an address. The only explanation I can think of is that he was trading in wines — Port wine in particular — but I am not sure why William Sinclair would have any monetary connection with him significant enough to warrant including this mention of Halcro in the will. Possibly, William, who was ill with ‘dropsy,’ was allowed to import Port wine on his own account as a medicament. See Judith Hudson Beattie, and Helen M. Buss eds., “Letters to Men on the Ships,” letter to George Gordon Neyland, 29th August 1813, Undelivered Letters to Hudson’s Bay Company Men on the Northwest Coast of North America, 1830-57 (UBC Press, 2003), 133; also Michael Payne, “‘The Healthiest Part in the Known World’: Prince of Wales’s Fort As Fur Trade Post and Community in the Eighteenth Century,” MHS Transactions Series 3, Number 35, 1978-79 season.

[31] Original: “Honble”.

[32] Original: “Bay”.

[33] Original: “Honble”.

[34] Original: “Isbester”.

[35] Original: “Agent”.

[36] Original displays symbol similar to ‘PCts‘, and reads “Annuities”.

[37] Original: “be”. Additional notes will be included when I have an opportunity to revisit the Archives of Manitoba.

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