Friday, November 20, 2015

Will of Magnus Linklater - Shantau

Addendum to previous post here.

At last I’ve been able to get a copy of Magnus Linklater’s will from the UK National Archives. A few years ago I tried but at the time it hadn’t been digitised separately from a huge bundle of papers from China and they wanted me to pay for them to do the lot, I’m not a millionaire so I declined!! Recently I rechecked and I was happy to see they had been done and this time it was only going to cost me about $NZ34, a lot better than the hundreds they wanted last time!

So here we have it, the final proof that I’ve been more or less correct in my research and assumptions. Wife Jane is not mentioned because sadly she had died the previous year:-

will-pg1 will-pg3 will-pg4

Sunday, April 28, 2013

James Linklater 1842-1899

And so we finally arrive at the youngest child of Magnus & May Linklater, James, my paternal great-grandfather.


James was born on 28 Oct 1842 & baptised 18 Dec 1842 at the same North Leith parish church as his siblings.


We find him at home in the 1851 census aged 9 with his mother, two siblings, a cousin & a great-grandmother living at 71 Shore, South Leith, Edinburgh. (The ‘great-grandmother’ bit is suspect though as May was 43 and ggm was 66, it doesn’t compute, but that’s another story). This is the only census of Scotland that James is found in, he’s not there in 1861 and by 1871 he was living in New Zealand. He arrived here about 1865/66 but out of all the siblings he’s the only one I cannot find on a passenger list! His death certificate in 1899 says he had been in NZ for 33 years. I could hazard a guess as to how he came here, his brother, Captain John, had been in NZ for a few years by then and in 1864 he went to Scotland to sit his Master Mariner’s examinations and also to pick up the ship ‘Wanganui’ to bring it back to NZ. He could very well have brought his brother back with him, as there were no passengers as such on this new ship that could be why there is no mention of him. It’s about the time James said he arrived in NZ although why he settled in Kaiapoi rather than Wanganui where John lived is beyond my ken!


On the 18 Jul 1871 in the Rangiora Registrar’s Office James aged 27 married Mary Elizabeth Williscroft aged 19, in front of witnesses Benjamin Ellis and Mary’s mother Elizabeth Williscroft. James is listed as an engineer and they were a bachelor & spinster. Unfortunately, that was in the early years when NZ certificates didn’t give a lot of information like parents’ names etc.


In the 1875 electoral roll he is listed as living in North Rd, Kaiapoi, a house on 1/8th of an acre on section 321, as far as I know that is where they lived for the rest of their lives becoming a well-known Kaiapoi family. The only knowledge I have of their house is from my father’s youngest brother Uncle Gordon, he told me years ago about going to visit his grandmother in Kaiapoi when he was very young, she lived in a large two storey house and while he was there the Waimakariri River flooded and he remembered standing at the top of the stairs watching the water creeping up step by step, luckily for them it stopped before it reached them, he would have only been about 3 or 4 as his grandmother Mary Elizabeth died in 1921 & he was born in 1917. I do have a photo of a two storey house that I’ve had for years but have no idea where it came from, I wonder if this is the house?


In Nov 1871 James was the engineer & driver of the ‘Pioneer’ road steamer which was to haul goods between Oxford & Kaiapoi. The early traction engines used too much coal & water, apparently it did very few trips according to these details I found in the MacDonald Dictionary of Canterbury Biographies at the Canterbury Museum, although the newspaper articles tell a different story!


road-steamer-engineer more-road-steamer more-road-steamer2

In 1874 he was the engineer to the Kaiapoi Fire Brigade and in 1878 he was the Clerk of the Works for the Waimakariri Harbour Board, superintending the erection of the machinery & dredge for the dredging operations which finally started in Jun 1879.

I remember my mother telling me that Dad’s mother was the 18th of 19 children but to this day I’ve only been able to find 14 of them, they are:-

May 1871-1880
John McKay 1873-1934
Emily Louisa 1874-1880
James 1876-1899
Magnus 1877-1953
Elizabeth Charlotte 1878-1942
Albert Edward 1880-1944
Emily Louisa 1882-1971
May 1883-1963
Rosaline 1884-1954
Marion 1886-1936
Joseph Frederick 1887-1896
Olive Wilson 1889-1943
Paul 1891-1949

On the last day of 1881 tragedy struck the family:-


Mary Elizabeth lost her two eldest daughters to a diptheria outbreak when they were quite young & it looks like she became quite depressed. At that time she had given birth to 7 children in 9 years the youngest one being only 4 months old so I'm not surprised she had depression! She fully recovered and went on to have 7 more children, she named her next two daughters after the two who had died. She probably never got over those deaths along with two sons who had died young. Joseph Frederick died at 9 years of age and James, who was an epileptic, was drowned aged 24 in 1899.

3drownings-web jamesdeathcert-web

On the 31 Mar 1891 her husband of 20 years, James, was committed to the asylum, the same year that she gave birth to her 14th child and it seems she was also admitted for a short time. If she did have 19 children I don't know where she could have fitted them in, 14 children in 20 years is a fairly tight squeeze!

committedtosunnyside-weblinklaterfamily-webJames died of valvular heart disease at Sunnyside Hospital on the 17 Feb 1899 and was buried in the cemetery at St Bartholomew’s Church in Kaiapoi, his grave and headstone was swept away years later in a flood of the Waimakariri River.


It wasn’t until I found Joseph’s death certificate that I found out who his parents were although even then there was no given name for his father, luckily the informant knew his mother’s maiden name.

In Dec 1903 Mary Elizabeth & some of her adult children were involved in a boating accident, the Miss O Linklater referred to in the newspaper article was my paternal grandmother, I’m glad she survived otherwise I wouldn’t have been me!

boatingaccident1903 On the 1 Nov 1906 Mary Elizabeth married Amon Smart, they had seven years together before Amon died on the 26 Jan 1913.

amon-smartMary Elizabeth passed away on the 13 Mar 1921 and is buried in the Kaiapoi Cemetery. She was the daughter of Joseph Williscroft and Elizabeth neƩ Baylis who had immigrated to NZ in 1858 when Mary Elizabeth was 7 years old.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Robert Sinclair & Barbara Linklater


Magnus & May Linklater also had two children who didn’t survive childhood.

Robert Sinclair was born 20 Apr 1829, baptised 28 Jun 1829 in the North Leith church. Robert died on the 25 Jan 1834 and two days later was buried in the North Leith churchyard:

3 paces south & 1 east from Wigham's stone. 4 years old, son of Magnus Linklater, seaman.

Barbara was born 19 Mar 1832, baptised 8 May 1832 in the same church. When she was aged 1 yr 9 mths she was very ill with Chincough & she died on the 9 Jan 1834, three days later she was also buried in the same churchyard:

3 paces south & 1 east from Wigham's stone. 1 yr 9 mths, daughter of Magnus Linklater, seaman.

I suspect brother Robert caught the same malady as Barbara as he died just a few weeks later.  Chincough = Whooping cough.

Thomas Linklater – Addendum

The death certificate for Thomas arrived today and although it certainly looks like it might be him there’s no proof apart from the fact that his wife married again soon after this date.



The Marine Hospital in Charterhouse Lane is now known as Charter House, originally founded in 1350 by Sir William de la Pole, the first mayor of Hull, as a Priory of Carthusian monks. With the further intention of establishing a hospital. The ‘Gods House Hospital’ was eventually established by his son, the charter being granted in 1384 when the first master was appointed. Initially housing 13 poor men and 13 poor women, and surrounded by fields through which the River Hull flowed, the institution prospered from income derived from its lands. Unfortunately this attracted the attention of Henry VIII who in 1536 closed the Priory and turned the monks out. The hospital, however, remained and over time acquired the name The Charter House.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Jean aka Jane Linklater

The only surviving sister of my great grandfather, James Linklater, was born on the 26 Dec 1834 in Couper St, North Leith, she was baptised in the same church as her siblings on the 15 Feb 1835.

Name:          Jean Linklater
Christening Date:     15 Feb 1835
Birth Date:     26 Dec 1834
Father's Name:    Magnus Linklater
Mother's Name:    May Mckay
Indexing Project (Batch) Number: C19506-5
System Origin:     Scotland-VR
GS Film number:     1067767
Reference ID:     2:18T59TK

In 1841 & 1851 she was at home with her mother & siblings in Shore, South Leith. On the 14 Jul 1854 in the South Leith church she married Crighton Clark also of South Leith.


A few years later he also became a Master Mariner, being presented with competency certificates in the years 1856, 1859 & 1864.




On the last one is a stamp to say that a Telescope had been presented to him by the British Government for services to shipwrecked seaman of the ‘Globe’ of Newcastle on 5 Dec 1863.

Crighton was the son of Crighton Clark & Isabella Rennie, born on the 31 May 1827 in Leith. By now Jean’s name was Jane, the two names seem to have been interchangeable in Scotland.

Jane & Crighton had seven children:- Crichton 1855; John McKay 1857; May 1859; Isabella Rennie 1862; Jane 1864; James 1868 and Margaret McKay 1871-1923.

On the 1st day of Nov 1885 Crighton Clark made a will in which amongst other things he left his gold watch to his second eldest son John McKay Clark. It is not known if Jane ever received her brother, Captain John McKay Linklater’s gold watch he left her in his will dated 1871 but possibly the two gold watches are one and the same.

goldwatch johnswilldated7-10-1871

Jane had earlier died on 5 Mar 1883 aged 48, so she may have passed the gold watch onto her husband. Crighton succumbed a year after he wrote his will, passing away on the 1 Dec 1886 at 6 Union St, Leith.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Thomas Linklater

Today it’s the turn of the last son of Magnus & May Linklater to be researched (except for James my great-grandfather, he’s going to be last).

Magnus & May had been living in North Leith when their first five children were born but by the time Thomas came along they had moved to Shore in South Leith, he was born there on the 17 Feb 1840 and baptised in the same church as the rest of his siblings, the North Leith parish church, on the 3 Apr 1840.


In the 1841 census he is living with his mother and three siblings in Shore aged 1 yr old. In 1851 he wasn’t at home and I found him living in the Orkney Islands at a place called Firth with his father’s brother James & his family, he was 12 years old, listed as a nephew & scholar, born in Leith.

1851-censusThis little snippet was to become the only piece of information we’ve been able to find to link his father Magnus to his parents, we haven’t been able to find a birth or baptism for Magnus, but there is one for James, who was the son of Thomas Linklater & Jean Muir of Sanday in the Orkney Islands.

At a young age, about 15, Thomas joined the Merchant Navy and was found as an ordinary seaman on the ‘Wanlock’ in 1855 and the ‘John Wesley’ in Inverness in 1856. He wasn’t found in the 1861 census so was probably at sea. There is another sighting of him in Australia in 1868, a 27 yr old able seaman on the ‘City of Brisbane’ arriving in Sydney. Unfortunately, with such a common name it’s hard to prove that the above are actually him!

In 1871 I found him living with his new wife with her parents in South Leith, although he was listed as a tailor I’m quite sure that should have read ‘sailor’! I then found this marriage for him:-


This will be too small to read so here are the basic facts:-

Thomas Linklater seaman bachelor 28 of Leith and Isabella Stewart Munro 21 of Leith were married on the 27th day of January 1871 according to the terms of the Church of Scotland. Thomas’ parents were Magnus Linklater seaman deceased and May Linklater MS MacKay. Isabella’s parents were Donald Munro provision merchant and Margaret Munro MS Wilson. The marriage took place in the burgh of Falkirk in the county of Stirling, Scotland.

Thomas & Isabella had a daughter named Margaret Wilson Linklater on the 16 Aug 1871, address Roberts Square, Falkirk, father Thomas was listed as being in the Merchant Navy. Margaret’s birth was reported by Caroline Conachie grand-aunt (another little piece of the puzzle slotted in nicely here). At the age of two years & 2 mths little Margaret caught bronchitis and died a week later on the 29th Oct 1873, they were living once more in Leith at 1 St Anthony Street. Her grandfather Donald Munro reported being present at her death.

margaret-wilson-linklater-b margwilsonlinklaterdeath-we

After that I completely lost sight of both Thomas & Isabella, I couldn’t find them in any census anywhere, no passenger lists, no newspaper reports, nothing!

Until recently, thanks to the eagle eyes of another Linklater researcher, Paul Crewe, I was able to come up with a death for Thomas in Yorkshire, England in 1874, he was aged 35, still waiting on the certificate to arrive to make sure it’s him (hopefully). Isabella married again in 1877 to Horatio Davidson in Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland and they had at least five children. On two of the children’s birth certificates (the two youngest were born in Scotland) they say they were married on the 24 Nov 1874 but their marriage wasn’t registered until the 4qtr of 1877, so there’s a little mystery there, to be solved at a later date!

Unfortunately, mainly for Thomas but also for me, his story is not such an interesting one as his two brothers but a story nonetheless, it’s just a shame there are no descendants for him, at least none that I know of.

Next time I’ll cover Magnus & May’s only surviving daughter, Jane & her husband Captain Crighton Clark.

Friday, October 5, 2012

John Linklater’s Will

It’s amazing what you find when you’re not looking! A few nights ago, when I should have been in bed, I was browsing through the NZ Archives online Archway for someone completely different when I decided to do a few searches for some other family names. Up popped two very interesting looking wills, one for John Linklater & the other his wife Elizabeth Ann. I was immediately awake but shortly to be deflated when I saw they were in the Wellington Archives (I live in Auckland). Before emailing them to find out I’d probably be paying an arm & a leg to get copies through the mail I decided to ask the NZSG mailing list if there was anyone who visited the Archives regularly who wouldn’t mind looking for me.

So thanks to Lesley & Peter ……. who came to the party I now have the two wills plus affidavits of all sorts in my hands, well on my computer but soon to be printed out!

I know I’ve already said in an earlier post that I had the final proof so this just puts the icing on the cake – John leaves to his sister a gold watch, she was Jean, later known as Jane, married to Crighton Clark, who I already knew to be the sister of my great-grandfather James Linklater.


Strange that he gave his wife’s maiden name and that she was ‘known as Mrs John Linklater since the sixth day of Sep 1857’, which begs the question, were they ever legally married? I’ve not found a marriage for them in NZ but it could have been overseas seeing he was a mariner. 1857 is also about 7 years after their daughter was born, she died in 1872 aged 22, listed as the only daughter of Capt John Linklater in the newspaper account of her death. Elizabeth had been previously married to Richard Husband Williams so perhaps she was never divorced from him and/or didn’t know where he was. His death doesn’t seem to have been registered in NZ so he may have left the country. Well, all sorts of intrigue there!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Final Proof

Recently the Great Britain, Masters and Mates Certificates, 1850-1927 have been made available to search on This database contains master and mate certificates issued to merchant seamen by the British Board of Trade.

I was over the moon because I found both brothers, John & Magnus Linklater, and their various certificates, that gave me the final proof that they were both the brothers of my paternal great-grandfather James Linklater. Full birthdates and places of birth were given on their application forms although Magnus seemed to think he was one year (exactly) older than his birth/baptism suggests.



Captain John McKay Linklater was in Scotland to pick up a new ship to sail back to NZ at the time of his examination, he gives his mother’s address in Leith.

So now I can close the books on these two brothers, just one left to find, the second to youngest brother, Thomas born 1840 and disappeared after 1873, he was also a seaman but doesn’t seem to have applied to pass the Mate or Master Mariner examinations.

More on Thomas soon…..

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Captain Magnus Linklater

Magnus was the brother of my paternal great-grandfather James Linklater of Kaiapoi, NZ. James was the youngest of the seven children of Magnus Linklater & May McKay and over the years I’ve managed to trace all of their children except for John, the eldest, and Magnus the 5th child. Just last year I found John who had come to live in Wanganui (see previous post on this blog) so that left Magnus.


In the 1841 census Magnus was at home with his mother & siblings, aged 4, his father was on the ‘Trusty of Leith’ ship which was in port. Here we have Magnus at home (aged 13) with his widowed mother in the 1851 census of the town of Leith & parish of South Leith, James (my greatgrandfather) and their sister Jane were also there along with their cousin & grandmother (don’t you love it when that happens):-


After that I’ve never found sight of him anywhere until late last year when in the course of researching eldest brother John on I stumbled across a Magnus Linklater in someone’s tree that had an excerpt from ‘Mildred’s Diary’, this is part of it:-

Mildred, or "Bobbie" as she was called by her fourteen grandchildren, was born in Tamsui, Formosa on May 6th, 1890.  Her father, Captain Edward Stevens, was a midshipman in the British Navy and ended up with the Chinese Maritime customs in China.  At the time of her birth he was the Harbor Master in Tamsui.
Her maternal grandfather, Magnus Linklater, was born in Leith, Midlothian in 1838.  He was a sea captain on China clippers. Apparently, the family all took to China as her mother, Marian Linklater, and aunts, ultimately settled in China.  Life was pleasanter and cheaper than in Scotland. Her father and mother met and married in China.

I immediately pounced on the words ‘born in Leith, Midlothian in 1838’. My Magnus was born in Leith in 1837, was this him? It would explain why I haven’t been able to find him in any UK census after 1851. It certainly seemed likely so I set about trying to find anything I could from the information in Mildred’s Diary. The owner of the tree wasn’t able to help with anything further except to say that Mildred had married Donald Smith & they had eventually settled in the USA?

So where to next? Google of course! I set about learning everything I could about Tamsui, Formosa (now Taiwan) and came across an interesting article on George Leslie MacKay, the first Presbyterian missionary to northern Formosa and in it a mention of Tamsui:-

The Ching dynasty had opened 4 seaports on the island of Taiwan to foreign trade in 1860. These were Kaohsiung, Anping and Keelung and Tamsui. By the 1870's Tamsui was a flourishing port for foreign trade in the north of Taiwan, located 15 miles down river from Taipei. It was in Tamsui that George L. Mackay arrived on the last day of 1871 escorted by Hugh Ritchie, a Presbyterian worker in South Taiwan. 

I also found a webpage for the ‘Tamsui Foreign Cemetery’, a graveyard for foreigners which traces its origins back to the late 1860s, a time when the first foreign merchants were establishing themselves at the port, mainly to trade opium for camphor and tea. Unfortunately no Linklater was buried there.

So now I knew there were foreign merchants establishing themselves in Tamsui I realised there should also be ships plying between Tamsui & other parts of the world including England/Scotland. I had already established that Magnus had passed his Master Mariner examinatiions in 1865:-

Index to the Captains Registers of Lloyd’s of London (Guildhall Library Ms 18567)
LINKLATER, John b. Leith 1827 C28531 Leith 1863 vol.9 1863-1864
LINKLATER, Magnus b. Leith 1836 C19728 Shields 1865 vol.9 1865-1868, 1870, 1872-1873; vol.21 1876

Could that be the Shields in Durham, England? I searched in the 1861 & 1871 census of Durham but no luck there, was starting to get despondent by now thinking I’d hit another brick wall but decided to scroll through the Lloyd’s Shipping Registers where I found these (not an easy task!):-lloyds1868-smallNaworthCastle1868-small

From these I was able to work out that the ship ‘Naworth Castle’ was built (& based) in Sunderland (Durham yeah!) in 1868 and that it’s first captain was Captain Linklater, the ship’s first voyage was to Ceylon. There are many men named ‘Captain Linklater’ in the British newspapers so I had to pinpoint the above seeing as he didn’t have a given name, this was my next breakthrough, the passenger list of the Naworth Castle when it called into Sydney, Australia in 1874:-



Captain Magnus Linklater & he’d signed it too! ‘Names of Passengers’ - Mrs Linklater & Infant - I perked up considerably at this, this Magnus was married & even had a child. If Magnus wasn’t in the census then surely his wife had to be, didn’t she? Back I went to the census & found one possibility in both census:-


Source Citation: Class: RG 9; Piece: 3780; Folio: 36; Page: 17; GSU roll: 543186
1861 Census
Coronation St, Sunderland
Jane Linklater wife mar 21 sailor's wife born Sunderland
Mary Ann Linklater dau 6mths infant born Sunderland
Ann Elder sister wid 28 dressmaker born Sunderland

Could this be them? Mary Ann could very well be the Marian mentioned in ‘Mildred’s Diary’.


Source Citation: Class: RG10; Piece: 5009; Folio: 69; Page: 73; GSU roll: 847381
1871 Census
6 D'Arcy Tce, Bishopwearmouth, Sunderland
Jane Linklater wife mar 31 master mariner's wife born Sunderland
Mary A Linklater dau 10 born Sunderland
May Linklater dau 4 ditto
Jane Linklater dau 2 ditto

Looking even better, May was the name of Magnus’ mother. Also, in 1861 Jane was the wife of a ‘sailor’ but by 1871 he had progressed to a ‘master mariner’ and it was in 1865 that Magnus had passed his master mariner examinations, better & better but still no link to Magnus & this family as yet. The new LDS website,, was my next stop where I lucked out (if you are of the opinion that ‘lucked out’ is a good thing) big time:-

Marriages Mar 1861
Davison  Jane     Sunderland  10a 441   
Linklater  Magnus     Sunderland  10a 441


Yes! We have lift off! I knew this was the right marriage because I had found a marriage for Jane’s sister Ann, Ann Davison to William Elder. But was this Magnus the one born in Leith, Scotland? Seems like he should be but how to prove it? Jane & her children weren’t listed in the 1881 or any subsequent census in the UK so it seemed like they might be the right family, probably leaving the UK soon after their three daughters were buried. Daughter Jane (in the 1871 census) had died in the 4qtr of 1871 & they had subsequently had another daughter named Minnie Jane born/died 1872 then Florence Minnie born/died 1873:-

FreeBMD Deaths Dec 1871
Linklater  Jane  3  Sunderland  10a 419

name: Minnie Jane Linklater
gender: Female
burial date: 06 Aug 1872
death place: Southwick, Durham
age: 0
birth date: 1872
residence: Southwick, Durham

name: Florence Minnie Linklater
gender: Female
burial date: 03 Sep 1873
burial place: Durham County
death place: England
age: 0
birth date: 1873
residence: Hendon

I found this list on which looked promising:-

Some matches are to a relation of the subject because you ticked the 'search all' box.
Surname(s) Forename(s) Relation Year of Event  Event Type  Place Recordset View 
Linklater Magnus  1873 Birth  Sea  BT_158_04  Full Details  Page Image 
Linklater Magnus Father: Magnus Linklater  1873 Birth  Sea  BT_158_04  Full Details  Page Image 
Linklater Magnus  1873 Birth  Sea  BT_160_05  Full Details  Page Image 
Linklater Magnus Father: Magnus Linklater  1873 Birth  Sea  BT_160_05  Full Details  Page Image 
Linklater Florence Jane Father: Magnus Linklater  1876 Birth  Sea  BT_160_05  Full Details  Page Image 
Linklater Mary Father: Magnus Linklater  1884 Marriage  China  RG33_012  Full Details  Page Image
Linklater Florence Father: Magnus Linklater  1904 Marriage  China  RG34_04  Full Details  Page Image

Not having any credits left there I looked for them on & found the following. First we have Magnus born 1 Dec 1872 on a merchant marine ship at sea in the Gulf of Siam, most probably the ‘infant’ listed on the ‘Naworth Castle’ when she called into Sydney in Jun 1874 and his sister, Florence Jane, also born at sea in 1876:-

name: Mangus Linklater
gender: Male
baptism/christening place: England
birth date: 01 Dec 1873
birthplace: Merchant Marine, at Sea, Great Britain
father's name: Mangus Linklater
indexing project (batch) number: C01403-7
system origin: Great Britain-EASy and VR
source film number: 1419470

name: Florence Jane Linklater
gender: Female
birth date: 27 Jun 1876
birthplace: Merchant Marine, At Sea, Great Britain
father's name: Magnus Linklater
mother's name: Jane Davison
indexing project (batch) number: C00621-0
system origin: Great Britain-EASy and VR
source film number: 1483323

Florence is most probably the ‘Auntie Florrie’ referred to in ‘Mildred’s Diary’:-

Mildred's sister, Theresa, was born in Shanghai 18 months before her. They lived in Pagoda Anchorage near Foochow on the Min River when Mildred was between five and ten. Their mother's younger sister, Auntie Florrie, lived with them and gave them lessons.

Finally these two deaths:-

name: Magnus Linklater
gender: Male
death date: 01 Apr 1884
death place: Double Island, Swatow, China
age: 45
birth date: 1839
occupation: Pilot
indexing project (batch) number: B02052-1

name: Jane Linklater
gender: Female
death date: 24 Jul 1883
death place: Double Island, Swatow, China
age: 42
birth date: 1841
marital status: Married
spouse's name: Magnus Linklater
indexing project (batch) number:

Both so young to have died within a year of each other, I haven’t been able to find out the circumstances of their deaths yet.

Then I noticed these two baptisms which lead me on to find the marriage of daughter Florence Jane:-

name: Florence Aileen O'Neill
gender: Female
birth date: 03 Jan 1905
birthplace: Chin Wang Tao, China
father's name: Gordon O'Neill
mother's name: Florence Linklater
indexing project (batch) number: C02099-8

name: Douglas Gordon O'Neill
gender: Male
birth date: 12 Jun 1908
birthplace: Chin Wang Tao, Chihli, China
father's name: Gordon O'Neill
mother's name: Florence Linklater O'Neill
indexing project (batch) number: C02099-8


Married at the All Saints Church, Tientsin, North China, Florence’s father is Magnus Linklater, master mariner & one of the witnesses is M Stevens, her sister Mary Ann who married Capt Stevens. This ties in with another excerpt from Mildred’s Diary:-

At that time due to slower communication and travel by the time news was received that his wife was very ill, he arrived in Marseille the day his wife was buried. He did not want to leave his children in school in England. Auntie Florrie offered to help raise his family, however she soon met and married and went to live in Tientsin, taking Teddie with her.

Also a marriage for her sister May:-


These two I had to bite the bullet & purchase credits at to view. By now I still haven’t found that perfect source to say that this Magnus Linklater is the one I’m looking for but I think there is enough circumstantial evidence to more or less prove it is him. I’ve not found another Magnus Linklater born/baptised in Leith, Midlothian within five years either side of 1837.

I did find a will for a Magnus Linklater listed in the English National Archives which is possibly his but so far I haven’t been able to work out how to order it, I gave up after getting frustrated by going around & around in circles:-

Probates in China at National Archives
FO 917/336
Linklater, Magnus

This has been the most satisfying outcome from my research & I couldn’t have asked for a better result, well perhaps for all of it to have been free would be nice, but I’m not complaining!

I note that from the eight children (that I’ve found) of Magnus & Jane that only four survived to adulthood, the eldest Mary Ann, the third child May, the seventh Magnus & the youngest Florence. The three girls all married & I don’t know what happened to them after that. Son Magnus it seems didn’t marry, I found him back in Durham in 1891 living with his mother’s sister, Mary Cox. In 1911 he was at a boarding house in Wales, listed as a single ships’ fireman, then in 1912 he was listed as a crewman on board the ‘Wakanui’ departing Canada & arriving in Sydney, Australia. A year later on the 9th March 1913 he met an ignominious death in Botany Bay:-


On the 18th March a post mortem & Coroner’s Inquest was held but there was no evidence to show how he came to drown. Thank goodness for that Christmas card, without that we would never have known what happened to him. It seems by the time of the inquest they had found out who he was because it shows his place of birth as being ‘at sea, Gulf of Siam’.


Lastly a few pages from a book I found online and a couple of photographs of Swatow (Shan T’ow) where Magnus & Jane were living when they died.



I now have more details on other family members of further generations so if you think you might be connected to this family somehow please contact me.

A big thank you must go to Barbara who published ‘Mildred’s Diary’ in her family tree, without that I would still be mystified.

References:; FreeBMD; Trove-NLA; Scotlands People; Church in Cleveland; The Takao Club; Maritime Archives; BMDregisters;; Google Books.


Dawn Scotting