About Names: “Cleveland Evans: Say it ‘Loud’, Lincoln’s approval ratings ebb and flow”

President Abraham Lincoln, From a painting by G. P. A. Healy, 1868 (Public Domain)

President Abraham Lincoln, from a painting by G. P. A. Healy, 1868 (Public Domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his January 29th column, he discusses the name “Lincoln”.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), 16th U.S. president, was born 214 years ago today. In 1867, the village of Lancaster was renamed Lincoln after the assassinated leader when it became Nebraska’s state capitol.

The surname Lincoln is derived from the city in England first settled around 100 B.C.E. Its original Celtic name, Lindon, “the pool”, described a deep spot along the River Witham. Roman army veterans settling there called it “Lindum Colonia”, which became Lincoln in English.

Most surnames derived from a place name mean one’s medieval ancestor had left town. Last names were all originally nicknames. It made little sense to call John “Lincoln” while he was living there. If he’d moved elsewhere, “John (from) Lincoln” made clear which John one was discussing.

Some medieval person moved from Lincoln to Hingham in Norfolk County, England, establishing the surname Lincoln there. When Massachusetts was settled in the 1630s, several Lincolns helped found the town of Hingham in that colony.

Samuel Lincoln (1622-1690) arrived in 1637. Through son, Samuel Jr., he was great-great-grandfather of Levi Lincoln Sr. (1749-1820), U.S. Attorney General under Thomas Jefferson. Levi Lincoln Jr. (1782-1868) was governor of Massachusetts 1825-1834. Younger brother, Enoch (1788-1829), was governor of Maine 1827-1829.

Benjamin Lincoln (1733-1810) was a Major General during the Revolution, prominent in the battles of Saratoga and Yorktown. His great-great-grandfather was Thomas Lincoln (1600-1691), probably a distant cousin of Samuel’s who landed in Massachusetts in 1635. Benjamin Lincoln was nationally famous; counties in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee are named for him.