Captain Arthur David Linklater (1870-1951)



I am become a name

My grandfather, Arthur David LINKLATER was born on the 8th July 1879 at 10.15 a.m. in Leith and died on 6th February 1955 at Maidenhead. He was a Master Mariner. He was always known to me and other immediate family members as ‘Dum’ and signed himself thus in the few letters I have from him to my parents - see images below. In formal letters and documents he used his proper name as also in those to his immediate family such as the Roxburgh sisters, Naena and Evelyn [first cousins - of whom more anon] to whom he was always Arthur.


So ‘Dum’ seems not to have been a childhood nickname; just why he came to be known as Dum I don't know. It was presumably not a reflection on his mental acuity, as anyone who can correct a ship's chronometer by lunar observation ain't ‘dumb’. I asked my father, but he didn't know either, even though he also always called him Dum in my lifetime. However, my father identified Dum as “DAD” in photo albums of his compiled before he left home, which didn't happen till more than ten years after they had returned to live in England, so maybe the Indian origin is a red herring. I don't know at what point ‘Dad’ became ‘Dum’. I fail to see why I should not contribute to the general confusion, so I shall refer to Arthur David Linklater as Arthur on ‘formal’ occasions and as Dum in a domestic context. My mother tended to refer to him as Captain Links, as didhis chums and deep water friends. The relict of his erstwhile employer, Lady Franiy Dhunjibhoy Bomanji and her daughter Mehroo, wrote to him as Captain Linklater. When not signing or referring to himself as Dum he also referred to himself as “Link” or “Links” and occasionally signed himself thus. Dum met his wife-to-be, Elsie May Harris née Soundy, in India and married her on 9 June 1917 in Bombay. He sometimes addressed her in rather quaint terms such as “Peach Blossom”; in his diaries he always refers to her as “W.P.”, but again I neither know why nor what it signifies. Perhaps Dum is such a term of endearment? or an Indian word?


As can be seen in the images of his signatures above, whether signing himself as Dum or Arthur or A. D. Linklater he always did so with a flourish, using a large, bold script which, while neat and well formed is not the easiest hand to read. This is especially true of his writing as a young man - see above examples from his Journal. The image at left contains two ‘blanks’ - words which even Dum failed to decipher when he came to prepare a typescript of his journal some time around 1937. Above centre is another example from his Journal for 1898 which includes one of Dum's finest drawings [Early Period]. At right is an example from 1900, the last year in which he kept a regular sailing Journal. On occasions he also wrote in a minuscule hand that could pass muster as the death-throes of an insect drowning in ink. It bears only a slight resemblance to his ‘proper’ handwriting and is to be found principally as marginalia.

Apparently he did not speak with a noticeable Scots accent. This was one of the few questions I remember asking my father when I first read Dum's Journal; I wanted to know what sort of voice I should have in my mind's ear. Unfortunately it never occurred to me then to ask the other questions that I ask myself now about his Journal - and life in general.


There's no avoiding it; here is where Arthur David Linklater stood among my forebears especially in relation to the Roxburghs. For more detail see the Linklater family history. Arthur (1879-1955) was the oldest of five children born to James Stevens Linklater (1850-1899) and Amelia Agnes Bell (1852-1917). Amelia was one of four children born to Jeremiah McLelland Bell and Mary Flint. Their three other children were Adelaide (1852-1917) who was unmarried, William (1856-1922) who married ‘Aunt’ Maggie but had no children, and Mary (1866-1932)1 (below left) who married Robert Anderson Roxburgh2 (below right). They had three children; Helen Anderson R. (1894-1973), always known as Naena, Mary Evelyn R. (1896-1973), always known as Evelyn and a still-born son. Naena and Evelyn, shown below with their mother, were therefore Dum's first cousins. Neither ever married or had children. Much of what little I know of other family history comes from notes that Naena and Evelyn compiled, an example of which concerning Dum - or Arthur as they properly called him - follows.


  1. Arthur usually refers to her as “dear old Auntie May”
  2. Arthur usually refers to him as “dear old Bob”)

© 2016 Quivis

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