Sinclair Family

Clarence Henry Joseph 'Erin' Sinclair
Born 27 April 1940, Dunedin, NZ
Married, twice
Died 8 June 2011, Auckland, NZ

Clarence Gordon Sinclair
Born 20 Aug 1890, Darjeeling, India
Married, 23 Nov 1920
Died 2 August 1943

Oxford Gordon Sinclair
Mary McKenzie

Edward Joseph Jacobson
born 30 April 1844, Nykarleby Finland

Ellen Agnes Kelly
born 1854 Waterdord, Ireland

Ellen Agnes Josephine Jacobson
Born abt 1898, Glenomaru, NZ
Married, 23 Nov 1920
Died 16 January 1950

Biographical Details:

Clarence Henry Joseph ‘Erin’ Sinclair
Born, 27 April 1940, Dunedin, NZ
Married, twice
Died, 8 June 2011, Auckland, NZ

Picture to the right is of Erin around 1942.

Biographical Details:

Clarence Gordon Sinclair
Born 20 August 1894 (see below), in Darjeeling, India
Married, Ellen Agnes Josephine Jacobson on 23 Nov 1920, at his mother-in-law’s house in Glenomaru, NZ
Died 2 August 1943, Dunedin, NZ

There are two different birth years for Clarence. His Army Record states his birth year as 1890 and his Death Certificate & Tombstone have him aged at 49 years old (being a 1894 birth year). My assumption is that he lied about his age on enlisting to avoid the need for parental consent for those aged 21 or younger.

Arrives in New Zealand roughly around 1905 (+/- 10 years) based on ‘time in NZ’ on his death certificate.

My current guess is that his India based parents died (or where too sick to travel/support) and that the older brother, Robert, came to NZ sometime between 1900 & 1910 for railway work and brought his siblings (Clarence & Mary) with him.

It would appear that through the railway work the Sinclair’s settled in the very small township of Glenmanu – which was the base for the final stage of building the Catlins River Branch railway line. The building work from Houipapa started in December 1909 and reached its final terminus of Tahakopa on February 1915.

Again I’m guessing, but it appears that the war intervined and Robert left overseas (as part of the non-military war effort), Clarence enlisted and Mary Sinclair boarded with the Wilson family in Glenmanu.

After the war it appears that Robert went back to India (still connected to railways) and Clarence joined his sister in Glenmanu. Within a year Clarence was married to the youngest Jacobson daughter and not long after moved to Dunedin were they settled.

above, Clarence (on the right) sometime in the early 1920s.
below, Full picture of the above, note his prosthetic left foot which dates this after 1919. It is assumed that this is at the Jacobson farm in Glenomaru and sitting behind him is one of the Jacobson brothers (there were nine of them)

above, Clarence sometime between 1920-1930s – close up of photo below
below, Full picture (with blur & damage) note his prosthetic left foot.


Clarence’s Military Personnel record:

Clarence Sinclair was in the third body of the NZ Expeditionary Force in War World One. He was a Trooper: 9/881 in the Otago Mounted Rifles. At the time of his departure from NZ he was living at Concord, Burnside, Dunedin. His next of kin was his brother, Robert Sinclair (also living at Concord).

Private, Clarence Gordon Sinclair, 9/881, of the Otago Mounted Rifles. Discharged 14 November 1919 as being no longer fit for war service on account of wounds received in action.

Enlisted 14 December 1914 with an age of 24 years and 4/12 months. He is described as having a dark complexion, black hair, black eye colour, 114 pounds (51 kg), and 5 foot 5 inches tall.

His trade is listed as ‘farming’ and last employer Jensen Brothers. He noted that he had previously been rejected for military service as being “Not up to standard”.

He spent 4 years & 219 days service abroad.

His movement / casualty forms are in very poor state and difficult to read. It can been seen he arrived Egypt 27 March 1915, contracted influenza at ANZAC cove, and admitted to hospital in Malta on 27 Aug 1915. He served at Gallipoli, and France 1916-1918. He is evacuated to hospital again in July 1917 (reason unclear/unreadable) and is wounded in action on 26 July 1918. In Feb 1919 he is treaded for a gun shot wound during which time his left foot is amputated.

Medals received of:

  • 1914-15 Star
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal


He appears in the 1919 Clutha Electoral Roll as living in Glenomaru and employed as a farm hand. This township is also where his wife is from.

In the Archives NZ ‘Intentions to Marry’ he appears on 4 November 1920 (BDM/20/127 1920 page 3241). This states his residency at Glenomaru as 1 year, occupation of ‘farm hand’, and as not married before. The wedding occurs at the residence of Mrs E Jacobson, Glenomaru, South Otago on 23 November 1920 – with Rev Father Howard.

On his will, dated 3 July 1922, his occupation is listed as Farmer, his address is listed as 276 Castle Street, Dunedin, and he leaves everything to his wife Ellen Anges Sinclair.

He appears on the 1928, 1935 & 1938 Dunedin Central Electoral Roll as living at 1 Teviot Street, Dunedin, and employed as a hotel employee.

By 1940 he was employed as a ‘Night watchman’ (source: Erin’s 1940 birth certificate).

His death notice reads:

SINCLAIR – On July 30, 1943, at Dunedin, Clarence Gordon Sinclair, of 1 Teviot Street, South Dunedin, and late of 1st N.Z.E.F. (Main Body); aged 49 years. R.I.P. – Requiem Mass at St. Patrick’s Basilica, South Dunedin, on Monday August 2, at 9am – Private interment.

In 1943, source: death certificate, his occupation is listed as Porter, address 1 Teviot Street, and time in NZ as 40 years. His probate values his estate at £580.

above, Clarence Sinclair 1920s/30s
, Clarence Sinclair, about mid-1940s

Below: Dunedin’s Anderson’s Bay Cemetery, Block 158, plot 10

Biographical Details:

Ellen Agnes Josephine Jacobson
Born abt 1898, Glenomaru, NZ
Married, 23 Nov 1920
Died 16 January 1950, Dunedin.

Awkwardly, she has a older sister who is Agnes Ellen Jacobson – see below.


Last known address was 1 Teviot Street Dunedin.

In Ellen’s will, dated 7 Feb 1944, she leaves her estate to her son Erin. She also appoints Henry Coughlan as guardian – who lives at 486 Anderson’s Bay Road, Dunedin. Her estate is valued at £850 in 1950. I note that Henry Coughlan is a Hotel Manager (from the 1920 til his death Clarence Sinclair, Erin’s father, is employed in Hotels).

Her death notice reads:

SINCLAIR – On January 16, 1950, at Dunedin, Ellen Agnes, beloved wife of the late Clarence Sinclair, and loved mother of Erin, of 1 Teviot street, Anderson’s Bay; aged 50 years. Deeply mourned. R.I.P. – Requiem Mass at St. Joseph’s Cathedral on Wednesday, January 18, at 6.45am – Private interment.


Top-right, Ellen & Erin Sinclair, abt 1943
Right: Ellen Agnes Jacobson with her mother – early 1920s

Biographical Details:

Oxford Gordon Sinclair
Married, Mary McKenzie

Is listed as a Tea Planter – source: Marriage record his son C. G. Sinclair.

Children of Oxford & Mary Sinclair

  • Clarence Gordon Sinclair
  • Robert Sinclair (living in Dunedin 1914, and later (maybe 1920s) listed as Inspector of Way & Works, Chandpur, Post Office, Assam Bengal Railways)
  • Miss Mary G Sinclair (sister, address of ‘Care of: Mrs G S Wilson, Matuanui, Glenomaru’) alive in 1920 and was a witness to the Clarence’s wedding.

Edward Joseph Jacobson
Born, 30 April 1844, Nykarleby Finland
Changed name from Matts Edward Jakobsson (presumably soon after arrival in NZ)
Arrived NZ about 1872
Married, Ellen Agnes Kelly, 21 March 1875
Died, 21 July 1905 in Glenomaru, NZ
Buried, Romahapa Cemetery plot 9

Is listed as a Bushman on the marriage certificate of his daughter Ellen Agnes Josephine Jacobson.

Children of Edward & Ellen Jacobson:

  • Mary JACOBSON b: 1 APR 1876 in Glenomaru
  • Edward JACOBSON b: 26 AUG 1877 in Glenomaru. Died 18 Aug 1954.
  • Annie Elizabeth (TWIN) JACOBSON b: 22 DEC 1879 in Glenomaru
  • Agnus (TWIN) JACOBSON b: 22 DEC 1879
  • Thomas Alexander JACOBSON b: 21 DEC 1880 in Glenomaru. Alive in 1900 (adverstises a lost horse in Glenomaru). Married Isabella Cornwell Findlater on 2 Jan 1909. Died in Christchurch 26 Sept 1958.
  • James JACOBSON b: 6 AUG 1882 in Glenomaru. Died 10 October 1882.
  • Selina Margaret JACOBSON b: 20 MAY 1885 in Glenomaru
  • Henry William JACOBSON b: 7 JUL 1886 in Glenomaru. Died 16 August 1886.
  • Louisa Jane JACOBSON b: 11 OCT 1890 in Glenomaru. Known as Jean. She married Leonard Victor Gee (from Christchruch) and had three chirdren; Mona Gee b. 1910, Edward Victor Gee b. 1911, and Catherine Eileen Gee b. 9 Sept 1912. She died in 1959.
  • John JACOBSON b: 2 JUL 1892 in Glenomaru
  • Sydney (TWIN?) JACOBSON b: 15 JAN 1894 in Glenomaru
  • Reginald Martin JACOBSON b: 20 AUG 1895 in Glenomaru. Died 3 October 1895.
  • James Herbert JACOBSON b: 30 JAN 1898 in Glenomaru. Died 14 September 1898.
  • Ellen Agnes Josephine Jacobson b abt 1898 in Glenomaru

Edward Jacobson appears in the Clutha Leader on 27 February 1885 seeking tenders (labour only) to build a dwelling house in Glenomaru. By this stage he already has six childern and another on the way.

On 26 April 1895 he is elected to the Glenomaru school committee (Clutha Leader) not surprising as his childern would make much of the roll!

The Jacobson childern appear to like writing to the ‘Letters from Little Folk’ section of the Otago Witness:

1 June 1893:

Dear Dot, – I live at Glenomaru, and it is a very nice place. The measles are very bad here just now. Some of the schools are shut up through it, but ours is not. The bush is very thick up here. We climb trees for fuchsias and tear our clothes, and then I suppose you know what we get. We have a pretty black-and-white cat. Please would you give me a name for it. There was a play a Romahapa called “Life’s looking-glass.” I did not go as it was too far, and our buggy was not available. Yours truly, Agnes Jacobson May 18.


3 May 1894:

Dear Dot, I live at Glenomaru. We have one dog, and she has two puppies; please can you give me names for them. We have had rough weather down here lately, and we were a few days away from school. There is a lot of wood about Glenomaru, and we have grand sport among the trees and bushes playing at hide-and-go-seek. Yours truly, Selina Jacobson (aged 8 1/2 years).


Biographical Details:

Ellen Agnes Kelly
Born 1854, Waterdord, Ireland
Emigrated to NZ before 1876
Married, Edward Joseph Jacobson, 21 March 1875
Died, 23 June 1932, Home for the aged, Anderson’s Bay, Dunedin