Lincoln Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Lincoln Surname Meaning

The surname Lincoln derives from the town of Lincoln in Lincolnshire in the east of England. Lincoln was an important center in the area during Roman times and during the Middle Ages. The name Lincoln defined someone from Lincoln who may in fact have been resident somewhere else.

Lincoln Surname Resources on The Internet

Lincoln Surname Ancestry

  • from England (East Coast)
  • to America (Massachusetts and Illinois)

EnglandLincolns are persons from Lincoln, not necessarily of Lincoln. London recorded the following Lincoln immigrants from Lincolnshire in its subsidy rolls of the 13th century:

  • John de Lincolne, draper (1266)
  • John de Lyncolne, cordwainer (1292)
  • and Hugh de Lyncolne, skinner (1309).

John Lincoln was a peddler who helped instigate the riots against foreign tradesmen in London in 1517. He was executed for his pains. A later John Lincoln was a well-known organ-maker in London in the early 19th century.

By the time of the 1881 census, London recorded some Lincolns, but Lincolnshire very few. They were in fact outnumbered by those in Norfolk to the south of Lincolnshire, followed by those in Yorkshire to the north.

The Lincoln name had appeared in Norfolk in the 13th century. William de Lyncolne was bailiff of Norwich in 1256. A Thomas Lyncolne was recorded as farming in the Norfolk village of Tasburgh in 1413 and these Lincolns stayed in the village for the next four hundred years.

Swanton Morley in Norfolk was home in the 16th century to Richard Lincoln, a wealthy churchwarden who built the mansion which is now The Angel pub. Richard Lincoln disinherited his son Edward from his will in favor of his fourth wife, thereby throwing the Lincoln family into penury and forcing his young grandsons Thomas and Samuel, then living in Hingham, to emigrate to America.

America. The new colony of Hingham, Massachusetts had amongst its Norfolk settlers six Lincolns who were the progenitors of almost all the Lincolns in America. They included Thomas Lincoln the weaver who was granted land in 1636 and his younger son Samuel, Abraham Lincoln’s ancestor in America, who received land there a year later. Samuel and his wife Martha had eight children who survived, three of whom lived onto their eighties.

Thomas Lincoln’s line led to Benjamin Lincoln, an American general during the Revolutionary War. It is a point that Lincolns in the South have tended to be named after General Benjamin Lincoln rather than after the President Abraham Lincoln.

One line from Samuel Lincoln led to:

  • Levi Lincoln and his son Levi, both Governors of Massachusetts
  • and Enoch Lincoln, brother of the younger Levi and Governor of Maine in 1827

Another line to Abraham Lincoln went from Massachusetts to New Jersey and then to Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois and to the log cabin there where Abraham grew up, the son of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy nee Hanks. That was the lineage covered in William E. Barton’s 1929 book The Lineage of Lincoln. At the time some disputed this lineage, maintaining that Nancy Hanks was indeed his mother but that his father was an Abraham Enloe instead. Barton dismissed this as idle talk and not supported by the facts.  

Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln had four children, but only their eldest son, Robert Lincoln, would survive to adulthood.

Lincoln Surname Miscellany

The Will of Thomas Lincolne of Tasburgh in Norfolk.  In 1475 Thomas Lincolne left in his will a strip of land in Foulesboth Pytll to be sold for “prayers to be said for my soul and those of my friends.”  He bequeathed two horses, land, and two bullocks to his widow Margery and his sons John and Thomas.

The Various Lincolns of Hingham, Massachusetts.  Early in the 17th century the little town of Hingham in Norfolk was torn by the religious dissension.  Robert Peck, the rector of Hingham. was among the dissenters and he headed a group of which held prayer meetings in private houses.  It was his associate Peter Hobart who led a party of twenty nine to the new colony of Massachusetts where they founded the town of Hingham, Massachusetts in 1635.

The following year lands were granted to the following Lincolns:

  • Thomas Lincoln the miller,
  • Thomas Lincoln the weaver,
  • and Thomas Lincoln the cooper.

In 1637 land was also granted also to Samuel Lincoln, the brother of Thomas Lincoln the weaver.

Another Thomas Lincoln of Hingham was a large landowner and he was known as Thomas Lincoln the husbandman, thus making him the fourth Thomas Lincoln who settled in Hingham.  This Thomas Lincoln had come from Wyndham in Norfolk in 1638 and married Margaret, the daughter of Richard Langer of Hingham, around 1642.  Two other Lincolns also settled in the region – Stephen Lincoln, brother to Thomas Lincoln the husbandman, and the young Sergeant Daniel Lincoln.

Samuel Lincoln – who came over as a youthful servant/apprentice – seems to have been the most modest of all the Lincolns in point of property.  But it was this Samuel Lincoln who, by the irony of democracy, became the progenitor of President Abraham Lincoln.

This proud connection for Hingham in Norfolk explains why the village hall there was named the Lincoln Hall and why the bust of Abraham Lincoln takes pride of place in the north aisle of St. Andrews church.  The memorial was bought by public subscription and unveiled by the American ambassador in 1919.

The General Benjamin Lincoln House in Hingham, Massachusetts.  Family history places the initial construction of part of the house as early as 1637, soon after Thomas Lincoln’s arrival in Hingham. However, there is no visible architectural evidence to support this assertion.

The various Benjamin Lincolns of this family were maltsters and the family had become wealthy by the mid 18th century.  General Lincoln’s father was one of the richest men in Suffolk county at that time. It was he who probably gave the house its L-shaped appearance, later expanded upon by his son.

The house still stands.  It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1972.  The original woodwork, mantelpieces, floors, fireplaces, unpainted intact clapboards from the 1715 addition preserved in the attic, and delft tiles installed around the parlor firebox have all remained in the house over the years.

When Abe Met Levi.  In 1848, Abraham Lincoln, the then Congressman from Illinois, arrived in Worcester, Massachusetts by train with his wife and two children to attend a Whig political convention.

They stayed at one of the best hotels in the area, the Worcester House, on the corner of Main and Elm Street.  Down Main Street, once lit by whale oil lamps, was the Meeting House then considered the center for local politics.  The hall was a rustic auditorium that uncomfortably held the thousand people that heard Lincoln’s 90 minute speech.

The next evening Lincoln and other delegates were invited to a dinner at Mayor Levi Lincoln’s mansion, at the top of a steep hill on Elm Street.   The men were distant relatives and talked extensively about their family tree. Levi was the city’s first mayor and had already served as Massachusetts Governor for nine years.

The Lincoln mansion is no longer there.  But it has been saved.  Fearing its demolition when the family heirs sold the property for development, it was rescued by the trustees of Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum. In 1952 they moved the house thirty miles away to Sturbridge, near a bank and a pizza pad.

Abraham Lincoln and His Beard.  When Abraham Lincoln, then President-elect, passed through Rochester, New York in February, 1861, en-route to Washington, his face was smooth-shaven.  It was said that in Rochester a little girl remarked to him:

“Mr. Lincoln, your face would not seem so long and you would look better if you wore whiskers.”

The President laughed, thanked the young miss, and went on his way.  Thereafter he let his beard grow.

Abraham Lincoln’s Descendants.  Robert Todd Lincoln was the only one of Lincoln’s four sons to live to adulthood.  He later served as Secretary of War under Presidents Garfield and Arthur. He lived onto 1926, the last surviving member of the Garfield and Arthur Cabinets.

Robert and his wife had three children, one son and two daughters.  Their son Jack died of blood poisoning at the age of sixteen.  Their two daughters, Jessie and Mamie, married and had children. But the Lincoln line ended there. The last person known to be of direct Lincoln lineage was Robert’s grandson through Jessie, Bud Beckwith, who died in 1985.

When Beckwith died, the three groups that were to inherit his millions – Iowa Wesleyan College, the American Red Cross and the First Church of Christ Scientist – were worried about his supposed son Timothy Beckwith, by then seventeen and living in the US with his remarried mother.  The groups made him an offer, some say of more than $1 million.  The teenager said yes and with that the Lincoln family tree withered into history.

Reader Feedback – Related to Abraham Lincoln.  I am a fifth cousin of Abraham Lincoln! All my family are deceased and I didn’t find this out until my cousin on my father’s side told me this. Now he is deceased. I would really like to see a family tree and would like to talk to George Clooney, cousin to cousin.

Jennie Gray (

Lincoln Names

  • John Lincoln from Grimsby was the King’s Secretary during the reign of Richard II in the late 14th century.
  • Benjamin Lincoln was one of Washington’s generals during the Revolutionary War.
  • Abraham Lincoln was America’s 16th President and one of its most famous. He was the man who led the country through the trials and tribulations of the Civil War.

Lincoln Numbers Today

  • 5,000 in the UK (most numerous in Norfolk)
  • 6,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

Lincoln and Like Surnames

The surnames found here cover most of the US Presidential surnames since the first President, George Washington.  Click on the surname below if you wish to know more of that particular President and his name.

ClintonJacksonNixonVan Buren


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Written by Colin Shelley

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