In Memoriam Arthur W. Sinclair October 13, 1914—February 25, 2011
The Prince William County Bar Association mourned the loss of its last living founding member with the passing of Judge Arthur Williams Sinclair. Efforts to assemble a tribute to him brought into view a picture of a man whose impact on the local legal community, and community at large, were quietly profound.
- Arthur W. Sinclair attended Augusta Military Academy and Washington & Lee University and graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in law.
- In 1939 he became the fourth generation of Sinclairs to practice law in Manassas and joined his father’s firm, located in the same building as the Peoples National Bank of Manassas, an institution his grandfather and namesake helped to establish.
- In 1941 he, along with his father, C.A. Sinclair, became founding members of the PWC Bar Association.
- In 1943, during WWII, he served in the Army in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
- In 1946, he returned to the practice of law in Manassas and assumed representation of the Peoples National Bank, later becoming Chairman of its Board. He also served as Town Attorney for Manassas and as Commissioner of Accounts.
- In 1950, he was sworn in by his father, C.A. Sinclair, as the youngest Circuit Court Judge, at the age of 35, serving the 16th and later 31st judicial circuits until his retirement in 1980. He was the longest serving judge in Virginia at his retirement and adjudicated cases as a substitute judge until he was 90 years old.
Judge Arthur W. Sinclair, right, is sworn in by his father, County Treasurer C.A. Sinclair, left, as the fourth judge to serve the then 16th Judicial Circuit, covering Alexandria and the counties of Fairfax and Prince William. Judge Paul H. Brown, background, presided. About 65 persons attended, among them, most of the lawyers of Prince William County. After the swearing in Judge Sinclair was honored at a luncheon given by the Bar Association at Stone House Inn.
- Judge Sinclair was entrusted with the many condemnations for the construction of I-95 and I-66 and other difficult civil and criminal cases over his tenure on the bench. When asked to join the Virginia Supreme Court, he declined to remain in Manassas.
- Judge Sinclair was a founding member of the Evergreen Country Club, the first President of the Prince William County Historic Preservation Foundation, and a Lay Reader and Superintendent of Sunday School at Trinity Episcopal Church.
- When the University of Virginia and Virginia Polytechnic Institute opposed the expansion of George Mason University to Prince William County, it was Judge Sinclair who chaired a committee that was ultimately successful in obtaining approval from the state to allow the project to move forward.
- In 1992, the PWC Bar Association established the Arthur W. Sinclair Professionalism Award to annually recognize a member of the local bar association for the qualities for which Judge Sinclair was known: possessing a reputation for candor, maintaining the highest standard of professional conduct, promoting confidence in the legal system and providing service to the community.
- In 2001, as part of the 60th Anniversary Celebration of the PWC Bar Association, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Joint Resolution 710, commending The Honorable Arthur W. Sinclair for his long and distinguished pubic service and his exemplary personal and professional conduct.