First name
Social status

Text source

David Sinclair (d. 1656) of Finnekumla in Älvsborg, Sweden, was born in Scotland. The Swedish peerage notes him the son of William Sinclair of Seba and his wife Barbara Halcro, the daughter of Baron Hugo Halcro, although this could not be supported in the Scottish peerage. Scottish lairds were commonly called barons in seventeenth century Sweden. David came to Sweden in 1630 or 1631 with his elder brother John and his father, and they all entered military service. John became a lieutenant colonel in 1632 but died soon after at Thorn in Poland. David Sinclair appears to have begun his military career as an ensign in Colonel Robert Cunningham’s regiment in 1633, but he also served in Andreas Dynn’s recruited squadron that year. He appears to have been in William Gunn’s recruited infantry squadron in 1636 (as a lieutenant in William Mudie's company [SSNE 3149]) but the following year he had returned to Cunningham’s regiment, serving alongside his father. In 1638 Sinclair was a lieutenant in his father’s regiment. There are no further references to Sinclair in the Swedish military records for the next eleven years. From 1640 onwards he was involved in the Scottish and later English civil wars. He was lieutenant colonel in John, 9th Lord Sinclair's regiment of foot from 1640-42. This regiment occupied Aberdeen from October 1640. In 1642 the regiment was sent to Ulster and in May seized and garrisoned Newry until February 1644. He was known as a staunch Royalist in Swedish circles and used to bear the Stuart symbol of a white cockade. However, after king Charles I’s execution, David reappeared in Swedish service in Johan Wittkopf’s cavalry regiment as an unspecified officer in 1649. He also served in Joakim Ernst Goertzke’s cavalry regiment that year. David was soon promoted to lieutenant colonel and then became the colonel of a foreign recruited cavalry regiment after 1650. Realising the futility of the Royalist cause, David used his father’s money, which had been set aside for the family’s return to Scotland, to buy property in Sweden. On 14 December 1651 he married Catherine Maclean [SSNE 5436], the daughter of the Scottish merchant based at Gothenburg, John Maclean [SSNE 1631], who had also become a staunch Royalist. They had three children, although they buried a son on 16 November 1652. One of the survivors, William [SSNE 3519], later became Baron Sinclair. Sinclair served as an interpreter for the Cromwellian ambassador Bulstrode Whitelocke [SSNE 4438] on his 1654-5 embassy to Sweden, and the political tendencies of his and his wife’s families must have made for interesting conversations. According to the ambassador’s diary, Sinclair went to great lengths to inform Whitelocke of the size and strength of Gothenburg’s fortifications, perhaps in an effort to reveal the power available to the Scottish royalists in Sweden. Sinclair’s integration into Swedish society continued as he was ennobled and introduced to the Swedish House of Nobility in 1655. He remained in military service on the Polish campaigns of King Karl X and was fatally wounded by a cannonball whilst leading a charge at Warsaw in 1656 and died on 19 July (one source notes it as 1655). Although he died shortly afterwards his name as the colonel of a regiment was still listed in the Swedish military muster rolls until 1661. He was buried at Christina church in Gothenburg 11 January 1657.

Sources: Swedish Riksarkiv, P. Sondén, Militärachefer i svenska arméen och deras skrivelser; Swedish Riksarkiv, Biographica Microcard E01819 5/8; Swedish Krigsarkiv, Muster Rolls 1633/16-22, 25; 1634/12-23; 1635/20-26, 29-31; 1636/17, 20-22; 1637/13-16; 1638/21; 1649/19; 1655/1; 1656/3,9,10; 1657/1; 1661/2; Swedish Krigsarkiv, Katalog over rullor, vol.1, pp.335, 372; G. Elgenstierna, Svenska Adelns Ättartavlor, vol. 7, p.273; R. Spalding, ed. The Diary of Bulstrode Whitelocke, 1605-1675 (1990); E. Furgol, A Regimental History of the Covenanting Armies 1639-1651 (1990); W. Berg, Samlingar till Göteborgs Historia Christine Kyrkas Böcker för Vigda, Födda och Döda, (Göteborg, 1890), pp.10 and 457; H. Marryat, One year in Sweden including a visit to the isle of Gotland (1862); Hans Landberg, Lars Ekholm, Roland Nordlund and Sven A. Nilsson, Det kontinentala krigets ekonomi: Studier i krigsfinansiering under svensk stormaktstid (Uppsala, 1971), p. 35. This latter source is good for the financing of his regiment via John Maclean. See also, p. 130.

Service record

Arrived 1631-01-01, as ENSIGN
Departed 1639-12-31, as COLONEL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1640-10-01, as LIEUTENANT COLONEL
Departed 1642-12-31, as LIEUTENANT COLONEL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1649-01-01, as COLONEL
Departed 1650-12-31, as COLONEL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1651-01-01, as COLONEL
Departed 1656-12-31, as COLONEL + CHIEF
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1655-01-01, as COLONEL
Departed 1656-12-31, as COLONEL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY