Select Linklater Surname Genealogy

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

Select Linklater Resources on The Internet

Select Linklater Ancestry

Scotland.   There was an early reference in the Orkneys to Christe Linklater as a landowner, probably at Linklater in Sandwick, in 1424. 

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. 

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

In the next two centuries the 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 1700’s.
  • 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 1899 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 Linklaters. 

John 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.

America.  One Linklater line here began with James Linklater who came to Michigan sometime in the 1860's, settling in St. Clair county.  His grandson 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.

.  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 Manitoba.

William Linklater built a trading post there at Sandy Point in 1799 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 1880.

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

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

In the mid-1700’s 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 Edward 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 Island 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 to 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 seventy-five years

Select Linklater Miscellany

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

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

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

Click here for reader feedback
Click here for return to front page