James Sinclair (1809 - 1881)

James Sinclair was born in Morayshire, Scotland in 1809, son of Lewis Sinclair, head steward of Sir William Gordon-Cumming at Altyre Estate. He was intelligent and hard working and he loved to draw especially flowers and plants. These qualities attracted the attention of Lady Cumming who arranged for him to work under T. A. Knight at Kew Gardens in London. This is where he learnt painting and landscape gardening. In 1835 he was writing articles in Loudon's "The Gardener's Magazine".

A chance came to go overseas, he was recommended to Prince Woronzoff, a wealthy Russian, to take charge of and develop his gardens in the Crimea, where he spent 13 years as a horticultural advisor. For the good work he was honoured with the Imperial Russian Order of St. Anne of Merit and arrangements were made for him to be granted access to all royal gardens in Europe. Travelling to many places including Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Tartary, South Russia, Moldavia, Wallachia, Transylvania, Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia; and by the cities of Constantinople, Odessa, Vienna, Dresden, Berlin, Potsdam, Magdeburg, Hanover, Cologne, Brussels, and Paris. Introducing an improved method of pruning vines, the introduction of apples and pears and of experiments in the growth of Albanian tobacco.

At Sebastopol, Crimea, he meets Mary Anne Cooper governess to Prince Woronzoff's children. They marry in 1846 and lived in a house in the palace grounds where their first child was born, Malvina Anne in 1849. Before the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1853, the Sinclairs head back to England. James publishes his first book of poetry in 1852. The family arrived in Melbourne, Australia in December 1852 to begin a new life.

He opens a shop in Bourke Street selling seeds in 1855. City of Melbourne allocates 1,000 pounds to develop Fitzroy Gardens. He works and lives with his family in a house in the gardens. Over time he publishes a number of books on gardening and poetry, including "The Gardener's Magazine" monthly from 1855 to 1856. Second daughter Exilina Mary born 1855 and son James born 1859. His first wife dies and in 1859 marries Ellen Roberts. In April 1881 James dies aged 72 years, in the house in Fitzroy Gardens.

The list of books written by James Sinclair on gardening and poetry, so far confirmed.

Date Book Name Published by
1852 The Beauties of Nature, and how far they transcend those of Art, in Landscape Gardening. London - Houlston and Stoneman
185-? The crucible of poetical celebrities, or, The beginning of the end, among poetical stars. London - ?
185-? The witness, or, The millennial sacred lyre. London - ?
1854 The fire that burns without ceasing : contemplated in two new songs, "Land of Tasmania", and the "Rum Fiend". Hobart Town - James Burnet.
before 1855 Treatise on the Heartsease. Unknown
before 1855 Treatise on the Dahlia. Unknown
before 1855 The Original Contributions on the Farm, Garden, Flower Garden, Fruit Garden, Arboretum, Wilderness, Trees, Fountains, Hedges, and the New Cultivator. Unknown
1855-1856 The gardener's magazine, and journal of rural economy. Melbourne - Slater, Williams, and Hodgson.
1855 The Victorian farmers' guide. Melbourne - R.M. Abbott and Co.
1855 The kitchen garden.  
1856 The Victorian fruit gardeners' guide. Melbourne - R.M. Abbott and Co.
1856 The Victorian landscape gardeners' guide. Melbourne - R.M. Abbott and Co.
1856 The Victorian flower gardeners' guide. Melbourne - R.M. Abbott and Co.
1856 The Victorian vine-growers' guide. Melbourne - R.M. Abbott and Co.
1856 The Victorian cottage gardeners' guide. Melbourne - R.M. Abbott and Co.
1856 The Victorian tree-growers' guide. Melbourne - R.M. Abbott and Co.
1856 Beauties of Victoria in 1856, containing notices of two hundred of the principal gardens round Melbourne. Melbourne - ?
1857 The Australian sacred lyre Melbourne - J.W. Sayers.
1859 Original Australian proverbs, and true love songs Melbourne - J.G. Hornblower.
1859 The Australian gardeners' chronicle: or, Calendar of operations for every month in the year, in the kitchen garden Melbourne - J.G. Hornblower.
1866? Every man his own gardener [manuscript] Unpublished