Catherine Sinclair

Born 17 April 1800, died 6 August 1864

Catherine Sinclair was the sixth of thirteen children in the well-to-do Edinburgh family of Sir John Sinclair, agriculturalist and statistician. She acted as her father’s secretary until his death in 1835.

Having begun by writing fairly conventional children’s books, she won fame with her novel for young people, Holiday House, which carried an underlying moral message but was attractive to readers, recounting the high jinks of a household of lively children. It remained in print for 100 years and was followed by other popular publications for young children.

Catherine Sinclair was also a respected philanthropist in Edinburgh, establishing soup kitchens and doing other good works. She and her other unmarried sisters entertained mid-Victorian Edinburgh society in their hospitable house in George Street.

Her good works include the creation of the first drinking fountain in Edinburgh, at the junction of Princes Street and Lothian Road - the Sinclair Fountain was later removed, and held in storage until 1983 when it was placed by the Water of Leith pedestrian and cycle path at Gosford Place in Leith.

The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women
Based on an entry by Julia Rayer Rolfe