Linklater Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Linklater Meaning
as a surname originated from place-names in the
Orkneys Islands that lie north of Scotland – either Linklater in North
and South Ronaldsay or Linklet in North Ronaldsay.
The Orkneys have a strong Norse heritage and the derivation of Linklater is from
Old Norse words – lyng meaning
“heather” and klett
meaning “rock.” Linkletter is a variant

Linklater Resources on

Linklater Ancestry

Scotland. There was an early reference in the Orkneys to
Christe Linklater as a landowner, probably at Linklater in Sandwick, in

His grandson Andro was to marry
twice, thereby creating two separate branches of the family. The Linklater line by his first wife remained
at Linklater for the next six generations until the land there was sold
in the
1660’s; while the Linklater line by his second wife owned Quoy Crystie
at Newgar
in Sandwick and were later to be found at Birsay.

emerged as the preferred surname
spelling. However, in the poll tax
records for Sandwick in 1690, it was the Linkletter spelling which

In the next two centuries
Linklater name spread as emigration from the Orkneys began:

  • some Linklaters were to be found further
    north in the Shetland Islands. Linklaters were in Tingwall parish
    there by
    the early
  • some went away as seamen, such as Peter Linklater on the ill-fated Bounty.
  • others
    moved to mainland Scotland, in many cases to Aberdeen or Edinburgh. Magnus Linklater for instance migrated from
    Orkney to Edinburgh in the 1820’s. His
    son Magnus was a sea captain on China clippers.
  • and many left for
    Canada after the
    Hudson Bay Company began recruiting in Orkney.

Eric Linklater’s roots
from his sea
captain father were in Orkney, although he himself was born in Wales in
and educated at a grammar school in Aberdeen.
His first novel, White Maa’s Saga
written in 1929, was informed by his family’s background in Orkney and
this was
followed by a succession of other popular novels. He
moved to the Orkneys in 1934 and died
there forty years later.

He and his wife
Marjorie were the scions of a Linklater media family.
There was
Magnus Linklater
, a leading
journalist of his day; Andro, a writer and
historian; and their sisters Alison, a painter; and Kristin, a voice
expert who
moved to America. Kristin’s son is the
American-based actor Hamish Linklater.

. Linklaters, based in London,
is a large
multinational law firm that is among the elite of British law firms. It was founded in 1838 when John Linklater,
then aged just twenty-one, entered into a partnership with Julian Dods,
initially known as Dods & Linklater, which later became

Linklater was born in London, but had Orkney/Shetland roots traced back
to the
early 1700’s. His father Robert, a
merchant, had moved from the Shetlands to London in the early 1800’s.

One Linklater line here began with James Linklater who came to Michigan
sometime in the 1860’s, settling in St. Clair county. His
Charles migrated to Texas which was where, two generations later, the
film maker Richard Linklater was born in 1960.

. There have been Linklaters and Linkletters in Canada,
Linklaters mainly in western
Canada and Linkletters in eastern Canada.

Linklater. Early Linklaters in Canada
were fur traders
and employees of the Hudson Bay Company.
They were to be found at the first HBC settlement at Moose
Factory on
James Bay in northern Ontario and, more noticeably, at its Red River
colony in

William Linklater built a trading post there at Sandy Point in
and was its first factor. The HBC
community soon clustered around Lac de la Crosse nearby.
Descendants of William were recorded as
working there until 1882. Another
Linklater line at the Red River colony began with Hugh Linklater who
arrived in
the 1820’s and continued with his son Peter who worked at HBC until

Linklaters there married native women.
Their offspring were known
which over time constituted a very distinct local

Linkletter. The Linkletter
name has been a name found mainly in the Maritime Provinces.

In the
John and Isobel Linkletter left their home in the Orkneys to settle in
Connecticut. After the Revolutionary War
in 1783 their Loyalist son George and his family departed for Prince
Island where they were given land by the Government near Summerside. The Linkletters continue to farm there. Lester Linkletter’s 1979 book The
Linkletter Family of Prince Edward
covered their history.

From this line came John Fulton
Linkletter, an evangelical preacher in Saskatchewan in the early 1900’s. He adopted in 1912 a
baby boy who took the name of Art Linkletter and who, after their move
California, became a well-known American radio and TV presenter. He and his wife Lois had one of the longest
marriages of any public person in America, lasting nearly


Linklater Miscellany

The Derivation of Linklater.  Linklater comprised two Old Norse words – lyng meaning “heather” and klett meaning
“rock.”  Old Norse being an inflected language, the
addition of “-r” is the nominative suffix.

The name was pronounced Linkilter.
Linklater was
originally written Lingklet, but a “k” came to be substituted in the
form because the “g” was pronounced as “k.”

The pronunciation of Linklater as Linkilter is an example of
a reversal of letters to facilitate pronunciation.
This was common in Scotland and Orkney at one
time.  For example, grass was pronounced girse
burnt pronounced brunt.

Peter Linklater of the Bounty.  Peter Linklater was born in
Tingwall parish on the Shetland Islands in 1758.  He
was reportedly recruited in the Orkneys at
Stromness by one of Captain Bligh’s officers to replace a carpenter’s mate who
had died on the voyage.

He signed on as the Quartermaster on the Bounty
n August 1787.  After the mutiny on
the vessel in April 1789,
he joined Bligh and his loyalist followers in being set adrift in the
launch boat.

During the 3,500-mile voyage to Timor, he and crewmate
William Purcell
accused Bligh of sneaking extra rations for himself.
Bligh retaliated by having both men briefly
imprisoned after their arrival at Coupang.

Bligh insisted that Linklater was in good health when
Bligh left Batavia
(Djakarta in present-day Indonesia) in early  1790.    However, he died in Batavia two weeks later, apparently of malaria, before
he could
arrange passage for himself to England.

Magnus and Veronica Linklater.  Magnus Linklater, the son of the writer Eric Linklater,
was born in the Orkneys in 1942.  He
pursued a career in journalism, beginning
at The Express in Manchester before moving
to the Evening Standard in
London.  Then came fourteen years on The Sunday Times, working his way up to
the position of executive editor before leaving to become a managing
editor at The Observer in 1983.  He
became editor of The Scotsman in 1988.

He was described by his colleagues as the last
of the gentleman editors.  He is reported
to have enjoyed the dinner party side of The
job.  He mixed with the
Scottish establishment and peppered the paper with double barrelled
Yet for all that he fitted so naturally into the paper and its milieu,
it was
his first job in Scottish journalism.

His membership of the great and good was at odds with his writer
father’s humble roots.  Eric Linklater
was the son of a master mariner, an Aberdeen grammar school boy made
through his prolific production of popular novels.

Magnus left the editorship of
The Scotsman in 1994 after a row with
the newspaper’s management about its direction.
His departure came as a shock.  In
six years Linklater had built himself an image that was almost
inseparable from
the newspaper itself by becoming a spokesman for devolution.

In 1967 Magnus had married Veronica Lyle, the
grand-daughter of Sir Archibald Sinclair who had served in Churchill’s
Cabinet.  While Magnus scaled the journalistic
ladder in Fleet Street, she
set out on a social work career.  To
many she was nothing short of a saint,
changing the children’s lives at the school she had founded for them at Butterstone in Perthshire.  She was made
Baroness Linklater of Butterstone in 1997.

Linklater Metis in Manitoba.  Metis was the term given to the offspring of European women under what was called “a marriage according to the
custom of the country.”  Over time a
distinct Metis culture developed, with the main numbers to be found
around the
Red River colony in Manitoba.  These were
the records of two Linklater Metis.

John Linklater

John Linklater was
recorded as “a half-breed” at Fort Frances in Manitoba in 1871.  His scrip application four years later
indicated that he was born in 1805 of a Scots father and an Indian
woman.   He had been employed by the
HBC and was
likely the son of an Orkney fur trader and an Anashinabe woman.

William Linklater

William Linklater, perhaps
his son, made a scrip application as head of a family.
He was born in 1832 in Winnipeg, the son of
Metis parents John Linklater and Elizabeth Saunders, and married
Caroline McKay
at the HBC trading post at Fort Pelly in Saskatchewan in 1858.  He was still living at Fort Pelly when he
claimed support for his wife and ten children.

Linklaters and Linkletters in Canada Today

Linklater Linkletter
Province Number Province Number
Manitoba    400 Nova Scotia    250
Saskatchewan    200 PEI    100
Ontario    500 Ontario    350
Elsewhere    300 Elsewhere    300
Total   1,400 Total   1,000

Reader Feedback – Linklaters to Australia.  My great grandad James Linklater was born in Edinburgh in 1842.  Some of his descendants are now in Australia.  Terry Linklater (


Linklater Names

  • John Linklater was the co-founder in London in 1838 of what became the international law firm
    of Linklaters. 
  • Eric Linklater was a
    Scottish writer of novels and short stories popular in the 1930’s and 1940’s. 
  • Art Linkletter, born Arthur
    Kelly, was a well-known radio/TV presenter in America from the 1940’s to the 1960’s. 
  • Richard Linklater is an American filmmaker from Texas.

Select Linklater Numbers Today

  • 1,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Orkneys)
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Linklater and Like Surnames 

These surnames originated from the northern part of Scotland, either the northeast of the country, the Scottish Highlands, or in one case (the surname Linklater) the Orkney isles north of Scotland.





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