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British Industrial History

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John Sinclair (1754-1835)

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Sir John Sinclair, first baronet (1754–1835), agricultural improver, politician, and codifier of "useful knowledge"

1754 born at Thurso Castle, Caithness, on 10 May, the third but only surviving son of George Sinclair (d. 1770) of Ulbster (sic) and his wife, Lady Janet Sutherland (1720–1795), sister of the seventeenth earl of Sutherland.

1770, aged sixteen he inherited estates in Caithness yielding approximately £3000 a year, and the superiority of Wick and of much of the county.

1776 he married Sarah Maitland (d. 1785), the daughter of a London merchant, Alexander Maitland, who brought him a dowry of £9000.

1780 Elected MP for Caithness

1784 Purchased a seat in Lostwithiel, one of Lord Edgecumbe's Cornish pocket boroughs

1786 Conferred baronet.

1788 After the death of his first wife, he married Lady Diana MacDonald (1769–1845).

1790 Introduced the concept of statistics for informing the legislative process

1793 Promoted a Board of Agriculture as a means of publicizing agricultural developments, advising the government, spreading information, conducting experiments, and promoting legislation. Pitt agreed to the setting up of the Board on an annual grant of £3000, with Sinclair as its unpaid president and Arthur Young as salaried secretary.

1811 Declared bankrupt.

1823 Died in Edinburgh

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of Sir John Sinclair, ODNB