Peter LINKLATER William LINKLATER Robert LINKLATER David LINKLATER Helen Mary TOWERS Mini tree diagram


13th Apr 1817 - 27th Aug 1858

Life History

13th Apr 1817

Born in Windywalls, Kirbister, Stromness, Orkney

27th Aug 1858

Died in 2, Jordan Lane, Morningside, Edinburgh, Scotland


  • All I know about Jacob's life concerns his death. An 'Inventory' exists, dated 10 December 1858, recording stamp duty of £30; estate valued follows in the table below. In the 'original', itself a contemporaneous, unsigned copy, the dates are all written out in full without numerals, and the names of all the debtors under each heading are given. Anything [within square brackets] is an addition of my own, otherwise what appears below is as in the original. Note that Jacob is named as "sole partner" but of a company named "J & J. Linklater"; who the other J. was I don't know.
     ÙCtabÙDAt Edinburgh the 10th day of December 1858 the following Inventory of the personal estate
     ÙCtabÙDof the deceased Jacob Linklater was presented by Mr John Walls S.S.C. [initials unclear]
     ÙCtabÙDInventory of the Personal estate of Jacob Linklater Provision Dealer Candlemaker Row
     ÙCtabÙDEdinburgh who resided at Jordan Lane, Morningside, Edinburgh sole partner of the firm of
     ÙCtabÙDJ. & J. Linklater Provision Dealers there, who died on the 27th day of August 1858.
    1. ÙCtabÙDCash in the Warehouse ÙCtabÙD£25 ÙCtabÙD
    2. ÙCtabÙDBook Debts due by sundries ÙCtabÙD  ÙCtabÙD
     ÙCtabÙD[There then follows a list of some 142 debtors owing a total of] ÙCtabÙD£557.15.6 ÙCtabÙD
    3. ÙCtabÙDBook debts due but dubious from the circumstances of the debtors ÙCtabÙD  ÙCtabÙD
     ÙCtabÙD[121 debtors owing a total of]
    of which it is thought not more than £250 will be received ÙCtabÙD£796.13.0 ÙCtabÙD
    4. ÙCtabÙDBook debts due but desperate ÙCtabÙD  ÙCtabÙD
     ÙCtabÙD[121 debtors owing a total of] on which no value can be put. ÙCtabÙD£274.4.4 ÙCtabÙD
    5. ÙCtabÙDValue of stock in trade Wareroom and office furnishings. ÙCtabÙD  ÙCtabÙD
     ÙCtabÙDHousehold furniture belonging to the deceased as per Inventory & Valuation ÙCtabÙD  ÙCtabÙD
     ÙCtabÙDunder the hands of Robert [?] Whitten Licensed Auctioneer and Appraiser 6 north Bank Street Edinburgh ÙCtabÙD£158 ÙCtabÙD
     ÙCtabÙDValue of deceased's Estate in Scotland ÙCtabÙD£989.0.0 ÙCtabÙD
     ÙCtabÙDAdd due by Thomas Isbister, Garth, Stromness ÙCtabÙD£10.0.0 ÙCtabÙD
     ÙCtabÙD  ÙCtabÙD£999.0.0 ÙCtabÙD
     ÙCtabÙD(Signed) Wm. Linklater ÙCtabÙD
     ÙCtabÙD(Signed) Jas. Laughton J.P. ÙCtabÙD
     ÙCtabÙDAt Stromness the 4th day of December 1858 years. ÙCtabÙD
     ÙCtabÙDIn presence of James Laughton Esq one of Her Majesty's Justices of the Pease [sic] for Orkney Compeared William Linklater Tailor Kirbister by Stromness Orkney who being solemnly sworn and examined Depones that Jacob Linklater Candlemaker Row Edinburgh who resided at Jordan Lane Morningside Edinburgh sole partner of the firm of J. & J. Linklater Provision dealers there died intestate on or about the 27th day of August 1858. That the Deponent has authorised a party acting for creditors who has entered upon the possession and management of his personal or moveable estate as executor dative qua nearest of Kin. That the Deponent knows of no settlement or other writing left by the deceased whatever to the disposal of his personal estate, or effects or any part of them. That the foregoing Inventory each page of which is signed by the deponent and the said Justice of Peace as relative hereto is a full and complete Inventory of the Personal Estate and effects of the said deceased wherever situated, and belonging or due beneficially to the deceased at the time of his death in so far as the same has come to the deponent's knowledge and that the value of the said estate situated in Scotland is of the value of eight hundred pounds and under the value of one thousand pounds. All which is truth according to the best of his knowledge and information as the Deponent shall answer to God.
     ÙCtabÙDConfirmation wanted ÙCtabÙD
     ÙCtabÙD(Signed) Wm. Linklater ÙCtabÙD
     ÙCtabÙD(Signed) Jas. Laughton J.P. ÙCtabÙD

    An executor dative was an executor appointed by court decreet in the absence of any executor having been named by the deceased. Compeared is a Scottish legal term signifying represenation in court either in person or by counsel. Reading between the lines, estates valued at £1000 or more attracted a higher level of duty than those valued at under £1000. What an extraordinary piece of luck then, that Jacob's estate was valued at £999. An apparent anomaly lies in conflicting statements as to the value of Jacob's estate; under number 5 above "Value of deceased's Estate in Scotland" is given as £999 whereas in the penultimate sentence of the final paragraph it says "the value of the said estate situated in Scotland is of the value of eight hundred pounds." No account is made of the £199 disparity. Presumably the £30 stamp duty would have accounted for part of it.

    Fascinating as is this inventory it is sadly less informative than those in 16th and 17th century Orkney where possessions were itemised in more detail. Jacob's inventory is largely a recitation of debts giving no indication of how they might have been incurred. Nor is there any hint as to the type of commodities in which he dealt other than that they were "provisions" nor how he dealt in them other than that they apparently required a "warehouse." Were they loaded on the back of a wagon and delivered? or collected from his premises by his customers? There is no mention, for example, of any horse or vehicle as would have been the case in the older Orkney inventories. The fact that he had three debtors in Orkney suggests that he was not dealing solely in perishable goods; and one of them, James Sinclair, is himself described as a "merchant" so Jacob was presumably in a position to sell wholesale. The Shorter O.E.D. [1936] defines provision thus;

    Provision … 4. A supply of necessaries or materials provided; a store of something 1451. 5. spec. A supply of food; now chiefly pl. supplies of food, victuals, eatables and drinkables 1610.

    Butter was a major export from Orkney, held, it must be admitted, in low esteem - see below. It was one of several commodities used to pay scat [taxes] and rent as payment in kind [date?]. "At one time butter paid over half the land rents…A distinction was made between 'meat' and 'grease' butter. The better quality meat butter was kept for home consumption, and the poorer grease butter used to pay rent. This was assembled from the tenants and exported…Much of it went to Edinburgh where it was sold as 'Orkney' butter, but the farmers took little trouble over keeping it clean…It was churned as it came from the cow, unstrained and full of hair, and sold for smearing sheep and greasing coach wheels…There was probably no general improvement till the influence of the Colleges of Agriculture, founded about the time of the First World War..." [Fenton op.cit.]

    Jacob seems to have left no personal debts as a clue to what he was dealing in nor from whom or where he obtained his stock.

    The geographical distribution of the bulk of Jacob's debtors suggests that he secured his customers by travelling to them rather than the other way around. This was not necessarily true of the Orkney debts, which might pre-date his moving to, or setting up business in Edinburgh. There was of course regular shipping, weather permitting, between Orkney and Leith among other places and much further afield. But the distribution of his Scottish debtors is interesting. Time for a picture. Here is part of a map. There is no particular reason for choosing this one rather than any other, apart from the fact I like it. It is a bit early, as Jacob was born three years after it was published; had he needed a map, he might have used something published more recently.

    The inventory identifies debtors only by giving their names and the town where they presumably lived. Occasionally street addresses in Edinburgh are given. The great majority of Jacob's debtors were clustered in and immediately around Edinburgh, with hot-spots around Leith and Musselburgh to the east and Linlithgow, Boness, and Bathgate to the west. There were some debtors along the coast eastwards as far as Berwick, including two 'over the water' at Tweedmouth, but greater concentrations occur in the Borders at Kelso, Jedburgh, Hawick, Selkirk, and northwards to Galashiels and Peebles suggesting a nice round trip. Less densely represented is the area south west of Edinburgh, towards Biggar and into Lanarkshire. There are some stragglers towards Dumfries but the greatest other concentration is north of the Firth of Forth, along the coast including Dysart, Anstruther and Crail as far as St Andrews, and inland to include Cupar, Dunfermline and Markinch. To a casual observer there are three odd debtors out on a limb in Orkney; one, James Sinclair, noted simply as 'Orkney', and another in Papa Westray, were both debts seemingly hopeful of recovery. Another in Stromness while not 'desperate' is listed among those debts whose complete recovery is held in some doubt. Given that Jacob was born in Orkney it is perhaps only surprising that more debtors are not recorded from there.

    The inventory does not give the whole picture. Some of Jacob's customers must have paid their bills! Any customers who did not owe him money at the time of his death presumably do not feature in the inventory. That Jacob travelled to solicit business is suggested by the above concentrations being not just around population centres but located along arterial routes. By the same token, what was a customer from say St Andrews or Berwick getting from Jacob that could not be obtained nearer to home? It can't have been a commodity that was so unusual that they were compelled to travel to him to acquire it, otherwise where were the customers from say Stirling and Glasgow? both closer and easier to get to than St Andrews bearing in mind the Forth Rail Bridge did not open until 1890 and there was no road bridge to match until 1964. Also, I would expect a more random distribution of debtors if they were seeking out Jacob rather than the other way round. Presumably Jacob or his travellers did not cover those population centres within his sphere of commerce that are unrepresented in his inventory because there were others with established businesses already doing so. Or maybe he did cover them but for some inexplicable reason they all paid their bills!

    Eight hundred pounds in 1858 was a sizeable sum. In 1841 for example, Orkney women could earn an average of about 6d a day at semi-skilled work such as straw plaiting. I don't at present have figures for men but say they earned double - 1 shilling a day - and say they worked 6 days a week, 50 weeks of the year, they would earn £15 per year. A ploughman in the 1870s earned around £20 p.a. In the 1880s fishermen were getting about £24 a season. Any way you look at it, eight hundred quid would have been a sizeable sum in 1858, but what happened to it is not known other than the obvious supposition that William, as "nearest of kin", got the lot. But there could have been other calls on Jacob's money; there were three brothers, including William, and their respective broods of at least 13 nephews and nieces, one of whom, John Beaton Linklater, was named as the 'informant' on Jacob's death certificate and his address given as 54, Candlemaker Row. Whether this was one and the same property as Jacob used as his warehouse I do not know. Nor do I know if 54, Candlemaker Row was a better or more prestigeous property than that in Jordan Lane. 54, Candlemaker Row is certainly more central and today is a three-storey building with shop on the ground floor, whereas the Morningside property is a four-storey residential building. Nor do I know whether Jacob owned all or any part of 2 Jordan's Lane was a tenant. John Beaton Linklater was a son from Peter Linklater's first family with Janet Linay. "At the birth of his son in July 1858 he is described as a commercial traveller, so he was more than likely an employee of his uncle Jacob." [Information from Brian Chalmers who brought the inventory to my attention - but the relatiuonship need CHECKING.] Rather more likely it seems to me, was John Beaton Linklater was the other 'J.' of J. & J. Linklater Provision Dealers and thus a partner. [CHECK: older brother? or what? and if he outlived Jacob, did he hand the business or any part of it on to James Stevens Linklater?]

    It is interesting that William 'deponed' that he was next of kin. [I need to check Scottish intestacy laws.] On the face of it he was but only in the sense that he was the oldest brother and, their father having died three years earlier, the head of the family. But intestate estates are now divided equally among next of kin [in England; is this true in Scotland?] and, in this case, there were three brothers, not to mention John Beaton Linklater or whoever the other 'J.' was. The brothers were William (b. 1813) then Robert (b. 1814) and David (b. 1815) from whom my family descends. William certainly had a raft of kids to look after; eight surviving at the time of Jacob's death, four boys and four girls. Two of the boys became 'professionals', one a doctor, Dr Samuel (1853-1914), the other a vicar, Rev. Jacob (1846-1898). His eldest son William (1842-1893) died in Australia, as indeed did the Rev. Jacob. The other son, William (1840-1863) died young. Educating children for medicine and the church required money. The four girls of course didn't count! Three of them emigrated to Oregon the other to Australia. All married but I have no information about children.

    Jacob seems to have been very slack about his cash control; he was owed nearly as much as he left, of which about £550 was written off as unrecoverable plus another £274 as 'desperate' which I assume means what it says on the tin. Some of the debts were quite substantial; several over £30, £40 and £50, the highest being £71.

    There is an amusing oddity; one debtor is identified as "Tom Wilson (alias Big Tom Wilson)". As he only owed £1:14:10d I expect they let him off on account of the sobriquet.

    James Stevens Linklater, one of Jacob's nephews and only son of Jacob's brother David, was about 8 years old when his uncle Jacob died so would not have benefited directly. Whether William parted with anything in David's direction is not known. David was recorded in the 1851 census as a shoemaker but as a 'merchant' come the next census in 1861. David was to die suddenly in 1874. Within five years his only son James had married and set up in business on his own account as is testified on the birth certificate of his first son, my grandfather Arthur David Linklater, according to which Arthur was born on 8th July 1879 at 14 Summerside Street, Leith to a father described as a "provisions merchant", just like his uncle Jacob. There may or may not have been a legacy but it is quite possible that skills, knowledge, contacts and know-how passed from Jacob, evidently successful himself, through David and his surviving wife Janet neé Irvine, herself described as a 'merchant' as well as post mistress at Aith for many years, to their only son James Stevens Linklater, who, following in his uncle's footsteps, left Orkney to settle in Leith and was the last of my ancestors to have been born and bred in Orkney.

    Jacob lived at Number 2, Jordan Lane, Morningside. Jordan Lane seems to have been an alternative name for the cul-de-sac named Jordan Bank on the map below taken from Alfred Lancefield's Survey of Edinburgh and Leith published by Johnston in 1851. In W. & A.K.Johnston's 1856 'Plan of Edinburgh & Leith & Suburbs' it is called Jordan Lane; in John Bartholomew's 1893-4 'Plan of Edinburgh & Leith & Suburbs' it is called Jordan Bank. Today it is called Jordan Lane. Jordan Lane/Bank is just north of the Jordan Burn and immediately opposite the entrance to the Lunatic Assylum. Jacob was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard with which he would have been familiar as his warehouse in Candlemaker Row abuts the kirkyard. From there he can keep an eye on things until the final reckoning.


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