The Orkney Connection

Sir William St Clair, founder of the Chapel, was the third and last St Clair Prince of Orkney.

The title came to the family through the marriage of his great-grandfather, William St Clair, 8th Baron of Rosslyn, to Isabella, daughter of, and heir to, Malise V of Strathearn, who was also Earl of Orkney and Caithness. After William’s death, his and Isabella’s son Henry was recognised as 42nd Earl of Orkney in 1369 and ten years later as the first St Clair Prince of Orkney.

He was awarded this title at a grand ceremony on 2 August 1379 and this appointment brought new status to the family.

On his death, c.1400, the title transferred to his son, also Henry, and then to William, the Chapel’s founder, who was installed at a ceremony on 9th August 1434.

In 1469, King James III married Margaret of Denmark and acquired Orkney meaning that William had to resign his right to the Earldom to the Crown. Sir William received Ravenscraig Castle in 1471, for the Earldom of Orkney and in February 1472, Orkney was annexed to the Scottish Crown permanently.

The connection to Orkney is marked through some suppliers to our gift shop including renowned jewellery designer Sheila Fleet and Orkney Distilling, who brand their Kirkjuvagr gin for us as ‘The Prince of Orkney’.

Rosslyn Gin

Available to buy online

The Official Rosslyn Chapel Website