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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]

Mr. James Sinclair

Mr. James Sinclair , Founder of Blenheim, was born on the 1st of November, 1817, at Nybster, Wick, Caithness, Scotland, and arrived at Wellington, New Zealand, by He was accompanied by his wife and their the ship “Agra,” on the 3rd of March, 1852, eldest child, then only six months old, and a nurse, who afterwards became well-known in Wairau as Mrs Charles Brindell. Mr. Sinclair soon removed with his family to Nelson. where he opened in business with a stock of goods which he had brought with him from Manchester. From Nelson he went to the Wairau and settled there, and though the effects of the memorable and historic massacre were still felt in the district, Mr. Sinclair soon gained the confidence of the Maoris by his firmness and scrupulous honesty, and almost at once secured a large and profitable trade with them and the settlers; indeed, so much was he respected that for many years he was both banker and merchant for the run-holders and farmers. As the settlement progressed Mr. Sinclair's business-like qualities produced prosperity for himself, and he acquired a considerable fortune, which greatly increased his influence, which he always exerted for the benefit of the district. He and his wife were literally the founders of Blenheim, for they built the first house there; and for over forty years they afterwards went on building up the whole settlement—she with the civilising social graces and hospitalities of a cultivated generous gentlewoman, and he with the intelligent energy of an educated man of wide business experience and indomitable public spirit. Mr. Sinclair was page 370 largely instrumental in having Marlborough separated from Nelson, and in having Blenheim made the capital of Marlborough. His wife died on the 23rd of December, 1895, aged sixty-eight, and he himself, on the 9th of August, 1897, aged seventy-nine. Mr. and
The late Mr J. Sinclair.

The late Mr J. Sinclair.

Mrs Sinclair were survived by four sons and one daughter—Mrs S. J. Macalister. The eldest son, Mr. J. J. Sinclair, was himself for nearly thirty years a prominent citizen of Blenheim, which he did much to advance, and he now lives in Christchurch. Another son, Mr. William Sinclair, was for many years Crown Solicitor at Blenheim; and another, Mr. D. P. Sinclair, also a barrister and solicitor by profession, is now (1905) Town Clerk of Blenheim.