Scotsman James Sinclair's was an astute businessman and has been credited with being the most important of the founding fathers of Blenheim.
Sinclair, born in 1817, acquired much of what became early Blenheim which in his day was known as The Beaver, Beaverton or Beaver Town because of its tendency to flood.
His land holdings eventually included a wharf, wharf shed, stock yards, his own house, the hotel, the first courthouse and police station, Marlborough Provincial Council Office and a hall for hire – all located along Sinclair Street.
He first ran first the Beaver Inn and then the Victoria Hotel on the convergence of the Omaka (Taylor) and Ōpaoa rivers.
Mr Sinclair became the land agent in charge of marketing and selling 450 acres (182 hectares) of land owned by the Hon Henry Seymour and his son-in-law Alfred Fell.
Trading in 150-acre blocks, Mr Sinclair became the principal land agent in the area, He opened a store and acted as both banker and merchant to the pastoral runholders, and reportedly gained the confidence of both settlers and local Māori people through honesty and firmness.