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     Jacobina was raised in the "West Side" of Dunnet, Co. Caithness. Her father was a crofter (farmer) and fisherman, and they surely had a modest life on the northernmost coast of mainland Great Britain. At the somewhat surprising age of 36, she married for the first time. Her husband's age and home, given the context, are another surprise. He was about 23 and lived in Washington, Co. Durham, England. How they met isn't known, but they married about halfway between, in Edinburgh. The witness to the marriage was William Dunnet, most likely Jacobina's brother, who was living there at the time. Perhaps he brought about this unlikely union. The couple moved to West Dunnet briefly, then to rooms in the Kirkwall Hotel in Kirkwall, and Jacobina was soon a widow. She lost her son James two years after her husband when he fell into a well, perhaps the one shown in the 1880 Ordinance Survey map very near Seatter, their home between Kirkwall and Berstane Bay. The 1881 census calls her a dairy maid, and by 1901, she was at #6 Barker's Buildings, Junction Rd., "living by her own means," with her daughter and grandson Alfred.



Seatter is shown east of Kirkwall in this 1924 Ordinance Survey map. The family probably moved here after Peter died. A more detailed map shows a well just down the road. Did little James wander away from home to go exploring?

     After her daughter, again surprisingly, married into the prominent Garden family, the primary merchants of Orkney, she seems to have been taken into their fold. Later censuses would clarify this. By 1930 she was living at 20 Garden St., apparently under the care of the Gardens, particularly Margaret (Jolly) Garden. This is evident from letters she wrote to her grandson Alfred Sinclair. One last surprise to mention is that she had a gold watch, which was passed down to Alfred. This may have come from her connection to the Gardens, since there is no indication that she ever lived above a subsistance level beforehand. There is no inscription on the watch, and its maker, "R. Canada," hasn't been identified.
     Jacobina lived to nearly 93 years old, and is buried next to her husband Peter in St. Magnus Cathedral kirkyard. She was 60 years a widow. Her granddaughter Maggie Garden reported that at the funeral, her brother Bob was at the head of the coffin, brother Jim at the rear. A mystery "Uncle Dod" is also mentioned. Four flower wreaths were sent by her grandson Alfred and his wife, Bob and Maggie Garden, Jim Garden and his grandmother Margaret Jolly Garden, and son-in-law William Garden and his children (by his second wife).

children of Jacobina Dunnet and Peter Clark Sinclair:

Barbara Catherine, b. 29 March 1877
James William, b. 15 March 1879, d. 26 June 1882



vital records sources: Jacobina's birth comes from parish registers of Dunnet, when she was baptized on 15 October 1837. Her marriage is recorded in civil registration for Edinburgh and her death is also in civil registration for Kirkwall.


all text and photographs © 1998-2005 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted