Sir John Sinclair (1754-1835), 1st Baronet of Ulbster, was a Scottish politician and agricultural reformer, born in Thurso Castle to the family of Earls of Caithness, and educated at the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow and at Trinity College, Oxford.
His reputation as an economist and statistician had been established by the publication, in 1784, of his History of the Public Revenue of the British Empire and Statistical Account of Scotland, published in twenty-one volumes between 1791 and 1799, where he first used the word statistics in the English language, and which effectively became the first systematic attempt to compile social and economic statistics in the country, providing a unique record of life in Scotland in the 18th century.
He was created a baronet in 1780, and had pursued a successful parliamentary and government career, and carried out a copious correspondence with Washington and other heads of state. He also raised a regiment, the Rothesay and Caithness Fencibles in 1794, whose Highland uniform in Gordon Tartan he designed and is wearing in this full length portrait by Sir Henry Raeburn:
Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823), Portrait of Sir John Sinclair, 1st Baronet of Ulbster (1754 - 1835), Oil on canvas, circa 1794-5, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh.
An unusual George II period telescopic table, in solid mahogany, which almost certainly belonged to Sir John Sinclair. Currently in stock at Peacock's Finest
These telescopic tables were used to support various scientific instruments, telescopes in particular, which could often be seen in gentlemen's libraries.
The quality is in the detail: though obviously not made by a great cabinetmaker, the use of solid Cuban mahogany throughout, thoughtful brass fittings and overall good quality of craftsmanship signify that this particular piece was made for a gentleman.
Inscription on the table's extending stem, reading 'John Sinclair ...754', almost certainly referring to the 1st Baronet of Ulbster.
Beautifully figured and finely dished top of the table.