First name

Text source


Johann von Sinclair was born on 7 January 1640 and died on 9 February 1731, Royal Polish Major-General, Chief Commander (Oberkommandant of Danzig) (Leopold, Freiherr von Ledebur, Adelslexicon der Preussischen Monarchie,Vol. 2, p. 448).

He is recorded in some sources as being a Major in the Dutch army in 1697, when – if the date of birth given above is correct – he was already 57! The only John Sinclair identified at that time in Ferguson Scots Brigade was a captain from 1694 and still serving in the Scots Brigade with the rank of Major until 1704 (and then called Johan) so it appears there may have been conflation in earlier sources, or the date of arrival in Danzig is incorrect.

Johann came to Danzig as Major in 1698, was promoted to be colonel in 1704 and was Major-General at his death in 1731, when if the date of birth is correct he would have been 91.

He showed interest in the improvement of the city of Danzig and was buried with great pomp in the Marienkirche in Danzig, where his funeral monument with long Latin inscription, but no biographical details, existed,  the shield with his coat-of-arms above the monument however had disappeared and been lost.

In an extremely German nationalist account he is described as French, was Chief Commander of Danzig from 1716 – 1731 and received an officer’s patent as Major-General from the King of England=George I. (4000 Jahre bezeugen Danzigs Deutschtum/Die Alleinherrschaft der deutschen Literatur und Dichtung in Danzig,

Unlike Ludwig von Sinclair (1680-1738) SSNE 6094 who was in Swedish service and Kammerherr of Stanislaus Leczynski, the rival of August the Strong, Johann von Sinclair was presumably in the service of August the Strong, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony.

The funeral sermon at the funeral of Johann von Sinclair in the Marienkirche Danzig on 8 March 1731 was given by Paul Swietlicki, since 1730 Polish preacher at the Annenkirche in Danzig, later Deacon and Pastor at the Johanneskirche. Swietlicki (1699-1756) had travelled widely and after study in Strasbourg, Rostock and Wittenberg was in France and then 1726-28 in England as tutor to young Counts von der Lippe. He was in London, Oxford and Cambridge and knew leading English theologians and the Archbishop of Canterbury of the time. After a further stay in France he received the call to be Polish Preacher at the Annenkirche Danzig in 1729 and travelling via Strasbourg, Frankfurt/Main, Kassel and Wittenberg arrived in Danzig in 1730. His funeral sermon on Sinclair is one of only three mentioned in 1778 (Gottfried Reyger, Nachricht von dem Leben Herrn Paul Swietlicki, Pastoris an der Johanniskirche in Danzig, in: Neue Sammoung von Versuchen und Abhandlungen der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Danzig, of which Swietlicki was a founder member, Vol. 1, Danzig 1778, pp. 291-296, freely available in Google)

A copy of the funeral sermon by Swietlicki survives in the collection of funeral sermons in the Library of the University of Leipzig, Sign. Fam 556. It seems a copy of the sermon “Ruhmvolles Leben des … Johann von Sinclair … zeigete bei solemner Beerdigung den 8ten Martii 1731 in einer geringer Trauer-Rede” (56 Seiten, Schreiber, Danzig, 1731) is available on Google Player.

Swietlicki is still well remembered today, is mentioned in the edition of the correspondence of Johann Gottfried Gottsched etc.


Sources: T. Fischer, The Scots in Eastern and Western Prussia (Edinburgh, 1903), pp. 135-136; James Ferguson, The Scots Brigade in Holland vol. II (Edinburgh, 1899), pp. 28 and 33. 

This article has kindly been provided by Angus Fowler and updated by the editors with Ferguson thereafter.

Service record

Departed 1697-12-31, as MAJOR
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Departed 1731-12-31, as MAJOR GENERAL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY