The facts known about Alexander Sinclair at the start of this study were as follows:-
He was an individual who had possibly been resident in Glasgow, who had sailed from Liverpool to Virginia on 19 October 1698, on the ship Loyalty, whose master was Henry Brown. It was also known that he travelled as an indentured servant, possibly in the employment of a John Scott. The 1666 date for his birth is from a deposition in a land case relating to the Northern Neck Proprietory that he gives later in his life. It is an approximate age, with another depostion giving a 1669 birth date. In America, he became a planter in Virginia, probably exporting tobacco to both England and Scotland.
The main lines of research followed in this study were:-
1. Birth and Baptism records for Scotland around 1666.
2. Poll Tax, Hearth Tax and Stent Rolls for Glasgow and surrounding areas for the 1690ís.
3. Merchant and Burgh Records for Glasgow.
4. Merchant records for Liverpool.
5. Tobacco import and shipping records for Glasgow.
6. Tobacco import and shipping records for Liverpool.
7. Indenture records.
8. Early tobacco trade records for Glasgow.
1. Birth & Baptism Records For Scotland
The Church of Scotland parish records produced no birth or baptism records for an Alexander Sinclair in Glasgow, but several for around 1666 were found across the country as a whole, especially in Caithness and Orkney, the familyís traditional centre. However there are very few parishes in Scotland which have records dating back to the 17th century. Similarly the International Genealogical Index includes several Alexander Sinclairs born between 1656 and 1676, but none in the Glasgow area. (Appendix I).
Roman Catholic records for Glasgow St Andrews have not survived from before 1745, and similarly, there are no Episcopalian records for St Andrews-on-the-Green, Glasgow earlier than the mid 18th century. No marriage records were found for an Alexander Sinclair, but as he sailed from Liverpool as an indentured servant it is likely he would have been unmarried at this stage of his life. The only possible marriage record for Alexanderís parents in Glasgow was found for 5 December 1661; the marriage of John Sinclar & Elspeth McFarland. No records of any children born to this couple were found (Appendix I).
2. Poll Tax, Hearth Tax & Stent Roll Records
No records of any Snclairs were found in the Glasgow Poll Tax Records for Barony Parish 1698, or the Glasgow Hearth Tax Records for the parishes of Govan & Barony, 16941. However, on the Glasgow Stent Roll for 1697, three Sinclairs are recorded, including an Alexander in the west quarter of the city (Appendix II).
On the Renfrewshire Poll Tax Records for 1695 around 15 Sinclairs are recorded, concentrated mostly around Greenock, Inchinnan and Kilmacolm, including an Alexander Sinkler in Kilmacolm (Appendix III). However as this Alexander is married, possibly with children under the age of 16 (the threshold age for the payment of poll tax), it seems unlikely that this is the correct individual.
3. Merchant Burgh & Guild Records of Glasgow
Although tobacco trade in the City of Glasgow was very limited prior to the 1707 Act of Union, it is likely that some of the first people involved in the new trade were the established city merchants of other commodities who took advantage of this new opportunity of trade. Unfortunately lists of members of the Glasgow Merchant Guild do not exist prior to 1801, but lists of the Cityís burgesses and guild brethren have survived from 1573 (Appendix IV). Several Sinclairs and John Scotts were trading in the city and were elected to burgess or guildbrother positions. However there is no specific mention of an Alexander Sinclair, and it is likely that any membership would have been revoked if he had gone to America on a permanent basis, leading to a further reference in the lists.
4. Merchant Records, Liverpool
The equivalent records for the City of Liverpool are held in the Liverpool Town Books (from where the original information about Alexanderís departure for Virginia was obtained). These are held by Liverpool Records Office.
5. Glasgow Shipping & Import Records
The Port Glasgow Report Book, 1696-1697 was checked for entries for Henry Brown and the Loyalty from Virginia but none were found. Trade at this time was predominantly along the British Coast and Ireland, the Baltic ports and the Azores with very few ships recorded from the American Coast.
6. Liverpool Shipping & Import Records
The original import and shipping records for Liverpool are held at the Public Records Office, Kew, London in the Liverpool Port books 1565-1737. Microfilm copies of these records are held at Liverpool Records Office.
7. Indenture Records
The legal system of indenture of servants, subject to the payment of stamp duty, was not adopted in Scotland until after the Act of Union in 1707. All surviving indenture records for Scotland and England are held at the Public Records office, Kew. A few formal indenture agreements for the end of the 17th century do exist for Glasgow. these were checked but none were found to relate to the indenture of Alexander Sinclair to John Scott. Similarly, The Register of Deeds for Glasgow was checked from 1695 to 1705 but no legal agreements were recorded by either individual.
8. Tobacco Trade Records, Glasgow
It appears that the tobacco trade in the city commenced around 1707, although there are some tobacco imports recorded before this date6. City merchants were exporting goods to Virginia and some started to bring ships back with tobacco cargoes. However the tobacco trade was already well established in English ports such as Liverpool, and competition from Glasgow was not welcome. Some of Glasgowís merchants began to charter vessels in the English port of Whitehaven specifically for the import of tobacco and purchased their own vessel in the port around 1718. The cargo imported into Cumbria was then moved overland, across the Border, to the city for processing. If Alexander Sinclair was involved in the Glasgow trade he may well have been sending tobacco into the city in this way.
In the Registers of Companies for Glasgow one family of Scotts became very prominent in the tobacco trade and processing in the early part of the 18th century but it is not known if any of these companies or individuals were related to the John Scott in question:
Scott, Brown & Co., tobacco Merchants & Spinners
James Scott & John Brown
Henry Scott, Tobacco Importer
From the Stent Roll of 1697 it appears there was an Alexander Sinclair resident in the city at that time, and he may be the person in question. Birth and baptism records proved inconclusive; none were found for Glasgow but there were possible records found for Caithness and the north of Scotland. As so few records have survived from this time the results are not surprising.
No evidence was found that Alexander was a merchant in Glasgow prior to his departure for Virginia, although there were several John Scotts trading in the city. Similarly, no evidence was found that Alexander was importing tobacco into Glasgow at any time. It seems possible that he may have been recruited by John Scott in Glasgow or Liverpool but continued to trade through Liverpool or another English Port.
Suggestions For Further Research
1. Check the Liverpool Town books for any other entries relating to Alexander Sinclair and John Scott. This would be best done by a Liverpool based researcher familiar with working with this material.
2. Check the Liverpool Port Records and Indenture Records held at the public Records Office, Kew, London. Again this would be best done by a local researcher who is familiar with these records.
Glasgow City Archives Public Record Office Liverpool Record Office
Mitchell Library Ruskin Avenue Liverpool City Council
North Street Kew 3rd Floor
Glasgow G3 7DN Richmond Millennium House
Surrey TW9 4DU Victoria Street
Tel +44 141 287 2937 Liverpool L1 6JH
Tel +44 20 8876 3444
Tel +44 151 233 5817
Glasgow Stent Roll 1697 (DCC1/7)
William Sinclair One pound Weaver
John Scott Eight pounds
Mistress Sinkler for land £05..04..08
Alexander Sinclair One pound
The Stent Roll, explained
In order to raise sufficient funds for all their expenditure, the town council set their annual rates, or stent, listing the burghers who were required to make payment.
These payments were based firstly on the rental value of the land and houses which they occupied, and secondly on their incomes. This 'income' tax was termed their 'Personal Stent', and only those able to pay were subject to this burden. Although therefore not all households in the burgh are listed, is still of particular value to the genealogist as it gives the occupations of those listed.