Larkin Surname Genealogy

There are two very different origins of the name Larkin, one Irish and
the other English.
Irish Larkin is an anglicization of the Gaelic Lorcan, a personal name meaning
“rough” or “fierce.” The progression to Larkin from
the original Ui Lorcain or O’Lorcain name began after the Norman
invasion. Under the English influence the O was discarded to
leave the name Lorcan or Lorkin. By the 18th century the name had
become anglicized to the more common Larkin.
The English version of Larkin is a diminutive of Lawrence, to
which has been added the suffix “kin,” meaning “relative of.” Its
first appearance as a surname was in 1250 in the village of
Chiddingstone in Kent where Theobald and Barthomew Lovekyn paid rents
for Lovekynesgardyn (or what was to become known as Larkins farm).

Resources on

Larkin Ancestry

The O’Lorcain name (followers of Lorcan) was in early times spread
across Ireland. Five distinct groups, for each of the five
provinces of Ireland at that time, had adopted the surname by the 10th
century, namely:

  • the O’Lorcain of Leinster.
    Their base was SE Wexford. They were dispossessed of their
    original lands at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion but remained in
    Wexford and nearby Kilkenny.
  • the O’Lorcain of Oriel. This sept was based in county
    Armagh and Larkins are still numerous there.
  • the
    O’Lorcain of Ui Maine.
    Their original lands were on
    the borders of Munster, Tipperary and Meath. However, Cromwell’s policy
    of dispersal drove many west to Galway.
  • the O’Lorcain of Meath.
    This has always been a small sept in numerical numbers, due perhaps to
    its proximity to the capital city Dublin.
  • and the O’Lorcain of
    Tipperary. This was an ecclesiastical family in Tipperary.

The O’Lorcain of Ui Maine have been the most numerous. At the
time of Griffith’s Valuation in the 1850’s, more than half the Larkin
population in Ireland belonged or were connected with this sept.
By that time, these Larkins were mainly to be found in Galway.
The Larkins of Meelick date back to the mid 17th century; and there was
also a cluster of Larkins at Ballinastoe, a market town on the main
road between Galway and Dublin.

Larkin emigration from Ireland began in the 18th century and picked up
pace in the second half of the 19th. Among those who left at that time
was Edward Larkin from Roscommon.

“Edward was never going to inherit the
family farm at Shanderry. So at the age of twenty he left for
America. His younger sister Anne never saw him again.
In a letter she wrote in 1912 fifty years later, she recalled the small
bible he had given her as a going away present.”

The English surname “Larkin” and the variant “Larkins” have been mainly
concentrated in the county of Kent. “Larkin” stretched a bit into
east Sussex and “Larkins” into East Anglia. But the numbers in
Kent were larger.

Chiddingstone on the Kent/Surrey border was an early place for Larkin
(Larkins brewery is located there now). But the main sightings
have been further east, along the Medway. The name appeared in
title deeds in Chatham and Gillingham in the late 16th and early 17th
centuries. Charles Larkin from Gillingham was honored by the Larkin
for his stand on parliamentary reform in
1832. And there was a well-known Larkin family among the
stall-holders in Canning Town in the early 1900’s.

However, the
most famous Larkin family in Kent was the one
was completely fictitious, the Larkin family that was created by
the writer
H.E. Bates and made into a TV series as The Darling Buds of May.

Lancashire By
the late 19th century, the largest number of Larkins in England was
to be found in industrial Lancashire. This was undoubtedly due to
the influx of Irish Larkins crossing to England in search of
jobs. But for many Ireland was never far away.

Michael Larkin was one of the Manchester martyrs
hanged in 1867 for seeking
to free the Fenian leader. Big Jim Larkin was born in Liverpool
of Irish parents from Armagh in 1876. He later returned to
Ireland and
threw himself into trade union organizing there.

Edward Larkin was an early settler in Massachusetts Bay colony, with
his name to be found in Charlestown records from 1634. John
Larkin, a tea merchant in Charleston at the time of the American
Revolution, is said to have lent the horse for Paul Revere’s ride. A
later descendant, Thomas Larkin, was one of the founding fathers of the
state of California.

“New England-born Thomas Larkin was
among the first Americans to pursue the California dream. In
1832, as a young man without a formal education, he travelled to
desolate Mexican California in search of his fortune. First as a
merchant in Monterrey, then as the American consul to California, and
later as a land speculator in booming San Francisco, he became an
extremely wealthy man.”

Another Edward Larkin was to be found in Newport, Rhode Island by
1655. A descendant, W.H. Larkin, traced the family history in
1935 in Chronicle of the Larkin
. A more modern undertaking has been Elizabeth
Larkin’s 2004 book Edward Larkin of
Rhode Island.

Clarence Larkin was a noted Biblical scholar and writer of the early
20th century. Genealogically, he came from a long line of Larkins
in eastern Pennsylvania. Some have attributed the line to Quaker
immigants from England in the 1600’s. Others have said that the
line came to Pennsylvania from Maryland and that a John Larkin,
innkeeper in 1644 in Ann Arundel county, was the progenitor of this

Irish Larkins
However, if you are a Larkin in America, there is a 70/30
chance that
your forebears would have come from Ireland (that is, on the basis of
the country of
origin when they arrived in America). By 1920 the largest
number of Larkins were to be found in New York, Massachusetts, and
Pennsylvania – points of immigration for Irish Larkins in the second
half of the 19th century.

Among those who travelled further afield were:

  • Michael and Mary Larkin from Galway, who arrived in upstate New
    York in the 1850’s and then went onto Rock Island, Illinois.
    Michael was a blacksmith. His son Charles became a prominent
    local builder.
  • William Larkins, also from
    Galway, who came to Boston in the 1850’s. He and his family later
    headed west to San Francisco where William established his
    carriage-building business, Larkins & Co.

Canada. One Larkin family
from Massachusetts were Loyalists who moved to Pubnico, Nova Scotia
after the Revolutionary War. Larkins still live there
today. Later came Larkins from Ireland. John Larkin and his
family arrived in 1825 and were pioneer settlers in the Ottawa area.

Australia and New Zealand.
For many Irish, their first experience of Australia was as a
convict. No fewer than fourteen Larkins from Galway were
transported to that country. Tom Keneally vividly described their
treatment in his book The Great Shame,
an account of Hugh Larkin his great grandfather-in-law.

The Rev. Patrick Larkin from Wexford was an Augustinian priest during
the pioneering days of North Queensland. He drowned in the Gulf
of Carpentaria in 1902. The Rev. James Larkin, another
Augustinian, stayed and built churches there.

William Larkin was an Irish priest who arrived in Queensland in 1862
and then moved onto New Zealand four years later. There he
started up The New Zealand Celt,
where his advocacy of the Irish cause got him into trouble.

“The trouble which arose during his
ministry in New Zealand highlighted the intensity of nationalism among
small groups of Irish colonists. It also revealed the persistence
of prejudice against the Irish among some English migrants.”

Leon Uris’s Redemption is a
fictional account of an Irish revolutionary Conor Larkin who migrates
to New Zealand to pursue the nationalist cause from there.

Larkin Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Larkin Names

Lorcain, abbot of Killeigh in the 11th century, was the first
recorded chief of the O’Lorcain of Ui Maine sept.
arrived in
California in 1832 and was one of the founding fathers of the state.
Big Jim Larkin, born into the
slums of Liverpool, was an Irish trade union leader and activist of the
early 1900’s.
Peter Larkin was a Canadian
businessman and political patron of the early 1900’s.
George Larkin was a star of
silent movies in the 1920’s who lost out when sound arrived.
Philip Larkin is widely
regarded as the greatest English poet of the second half of the 20th

Select Larkins

  • 12,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 9,000 in America (most numerous
    in New York).
  • 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland).




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