Before he died my paternal grandfather wrote a book setting down his life story. My uncle had it printed and very generously gave all of my grandfather's, rather numerous, descendants a copy.
It contains the following:
"I now believe that John Samuel Sinclair never existed and was simply a fictitious person of that surname concocted by my grandmother at the time she decided to adopt the name of Sinclair, and only necessary in order to complete my father's birth certificate. In my own lifetime no one in the family has ever mentioned meeting or knowing a John Samuel Sinclair and no photograph or picture of him has ever been found. I can submit two further facts that, although circumstantial, clearly indicate that the fictitious figure of a John Samuel Sinclair was merely a subterfuge to hide the real name of my paternal grandfather.
Why did my paternal grandmother decide upon the use of the name of 'Sinclair'? A clue lies in a Burial Grant issues in consideration of a fee of Five Pounds and Five Shillings to Mrs Annie Sinclair granting exclusive rights of burial in a grave No: 4669 at Hanwell Cemetery in the county of Middlesex. This document is dated November 19th 1902; only some four years after the birth of my father and it records my grandmother Anne Darby's address at that time as being 67, Bolingbroke Road, West Kensington, London.
One has only to look at a street map of the Kensington area of London to see that Bolingbroke Road is only a stone's throw from 'Sinclair Gardens' and 'Sinclair Road'. It is easy to imagine that if that area of the city held some affection for Anne Darby she could well have decided to adopt the name as her own and passed it on to her son and his consequential heirs by falsifying the birth certificate."
He goes on to discuss how his records show that a John Samuel Hayes is likely the real father and the new name was probably designed to cover up the child's illegitimacy.
I've known about this for a while. I'm the only one of my generation to carry Hayes and the link to events more than a century ago is fascinating. It took until a few weeks ago, though, for me to have the idea of trying to find the two roads (Sinclair Gardens isn't actually a park) my family are named for.
Today myself and a friend made the trek over to West Kensington and found it:
It is an unremarkable but quite pleasant road near Kensington Olympia station most obviously notable for the cast iron shelters over some of the mini-balconies. I now have a fierce ambition to eventually own one of those houses! The only down side might be that if I ordered something delivered to Matthew Sinclair, 76 Sinclair Road it would sound like a hoax.