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Jacobina was raised on the "West Side" of Dunnet, Scotland. Her father was a crofter and fisherman. 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, County Durham, England. They married at her brother George's home at 14 Breadalbane Terrace, Edinburgh, and the witness to the marriage was her brother William.
     It's possible to piece together an explanation of how they met. Peter's mother was Catherine Clark, who had him out of wedlock. She worked at a farm in Caithness at the same time as Jacobina's grandfather John Dunnet and several aunts. This may be how she met her husband James Calder, who was also a grandchild of John Dunnet and was living in the village of West Dunnet. The Calders eventually moved to West Dunnet, where they were neighbors of John's, who had moved back there. Jacobina was very likely living in West Dunnet up to the time she married, so Peter, who was living in the Calder household, surely met her there. However, the Calders had moved to England before the marriage, suggesting a romantic connection between Peter and Jacobina that continued after the move. There isn't any evidence of a marriage due to pregnancy, although it's possible, but there's no record of a birth or death of a child at that time.
     William Dunnet moved to Kirkwall to take over the proprietorship of the Kirkwall Hotel about 1876. Peter and Jacobina followed him there and Peter worked as a "boots." Their daughter Barbara Catherine, named for her grandmothers, was born probably at Jacobina's parents house in West Dunnet. Their second child, James William, was surely named for his grandfather James Dunnet (and maybe his step grandfather James Calder) and for William Dunnet. In different circumstances, the middle name might have been Angus, but Peter's father was not a part of his life, whereas William was clearly something of a patron to the couple.
     Peter died of lymphoma shortly after James was born. His grave in St. Magnus Cathedral kirkyard is marked by a stone that William likely provided for. In 1880, William rented Seatter farm just outside of Kirkwall to provision the hotel, and Jacobina was put in charge of it. In the 1881 census she's called a "dairy maid," but an obituary for William mentions that she managed the farm. At Seatter, James William drowned in a pond when he was 3, leaving Jacobina and Barbara to carry on.
     They were back in Kirkwall by the time of the 1891 census living on Mill Street. Jacobina was a "housekeeper." In 1901 they were at 6 Ulaff Place (called "Barker's Buildings"), Jacobina "living by her own means," with Barbara, a dressmaker, and grandson Alfred.

Seatter is east of Kirkwall. The farm pond in which little James died, although oddly shaped, must be the blue area behind the buildings.

By 1930 she was living at 20 Garden Street, and was looked after by Margaret (Jolly) Garden. She was the mother-in-law of her daughter, who had died in 1915. This is evident from letters she wrote to her grandson Alfred, in which she complained that she was being watched too closely. She had her grandchildren Margaret and James Garden with her now and then, James Garden being sent to live with her instead of living with his father's second wife and half siblings. Margaret's letters to "Pop" Sinclair say that the second "batch" of children were favored over the first, and this caused emotional stress. Emotional abuse and alcoholism had caused problems for generations before Pop and other branches of the Garden family.
     Jacobina lived to nearly 93 years old, and is buried next to her husband Peter in the churchyard of St. Magnus Cathedral. 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 Margaret, 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).

Jacobina (Dunnet) Sinclair in her old age. Pop's half-sister Maggie is with her in the first photo. These aren't happy faces. This family was touched by a lot of tragedy, and it was hard to find at least potentially happy situations while researching these people, going back from Pop, his half and stepsiblings through three generations of Sinclairs.

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.

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all text and photographs © 1998-2021 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted