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Hereditary Chief of Clan Sinclair
Biography of The Earl of Caithness
(written 2012)


Born on 3rd November 1948 Malcolm Ian Sinclair, the Lord Berriedale (the title given to the eldest son) he inherited the earldom and that title following the death of his father Roderick, the 19th Earl of Caithness in 1965. The title dates from about 871 when Caithness, Orkney and Shetland were part of the Norwegian Realm and Rognvald, Jarl (Prince or Earl) of Moeri was granted the title of Earl of Caithness and Orkney by King Harald of Norway. In 1455 King James II of Scotland, with Caithness but not yet Orkney and Shetland under Scottish rule, regranted the peerage of the Earl of Caithness to Sir William Sinclair of Rosslyn. That is why Malcolm is both the 58th Earl (including the Nordic dynasty) and 20th under Scottish law and hereditary chief of Clan Sinclair.

Malcolm was educated in Scotland and then at Marlborough College in Wiltshire, England. Before going to the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester to obtain his qualification as a Chartered Surveyor he spent a year travelling and working abroad in the USA, Australia and Africa. Having completed the three-year course at Cirencester Malcolm worked for a firm of land agents in Oxfordshire, England to obtain his final qualification. Following his marriage in 1975 he decided to carry on working in Oxfordshire and following a change of jobs began working part of the time in London and soon shifted his business life full time to London. His hereditary peerage gave him the right to sit in the House of Lords and politics soon became an important feature in his life together with his business. In 1984 his career changed again when Mrs Margaret Thatcher, the Prime Minister invited him to join her reforming government. He started as a Whip and Lord in Waiting to The Queen before progressing to an Under Secretary of State at the Department of Transport and then Minister of State at, successively, the Home Office, Department of the Environment, the Treasury, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and back to the Department of Transport. He is the only hereditary peer last century to have served in the three great Departments of State (Foreign and Home Offices and Treasury) and while in the Treasury was also Paymaster General. He was created a Privy Councillor to Her Majesty The Queen in 1990.

After his wife died in 1994 he resigned from Mr John Major's government to spend more time with his children Iona and James. The Lady Iona Sinclair was born in 1978 and after schooling in Oxfordshire spent a year travelling and working abroad. She completed her honours degree at Edinburgh University and is now a successful stockbroker in London. James, The Lord Berriedale was born in 1981. Following schooling in Wales he too completed a year's work abroad before becoming qualified in the hospitality and hotel business.

Since 1994 Malcolm has been doing consultancy work for various companies and jointly founded Victoria Soames Ltd., and more recently Rickett-Tinne, a flourishing London Real Estate Agency. As one of the 92 remaining hereditary peers he also still takes an active part in politics from the backbenches in Parliament and besides participating in UK law making currently serves on the committee checking legislation from Brussels on Agricultural and Environmental matters. He also dedicates a lot of his time to the Sinclair Clan around the world. He is Chief Executive of the Clan Sinclair Trust, the main aim of which is to preserve the historic ruins of Sinclair Girnigoe Castle in Caithness the only castle in Scotland listed by the World Monuments Fund and open them as a tourist attraction. He was Convenor of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs from 2004 to 2011 and helped organise the very successful Gathering and Convention as part of the Scotland Homecoming in 2009.

© Clan Sinclair Association Inc. United States of America
www.clansincairusa.org