The English version of the Larkin name is a diminutive of Lawrence (Larry or Lar), to which has been added the suffix "kin," meaning "relative of."  Its possible first appearance as a surname was in 1250 in the village of Chiddingstone in Kent where Theobald and Barthomew Lovekyn paid rents for Lovekynesgardyn (or what was to become known as Larkins farm). The English surname "Larkin" and the variant "Larkins" have been mainly concentrated in the county of Kent.  "Larkin" stretched a bit into east Sussex and "Larkins" into East Anglia,  although the numbers in Kent were larger.

Chiddingstone on the Kent/Surrey border was an early place for Larkin (Larkins brewery is located there now).  But the main sightings have been further east, along the Medway.  The name appeared in title deeds in Chatham and Gillingham in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.  Charles Larkin from Gillingham was honoured by a memorial commemorating his stand on parliamentary reform in 1832. There was a well-known Larkin family among the stall-holders in Canning Town in the early 1900's.  By the late 19th century, the largest number of Larkins in England was to be found in industrial Lancashire. This was undoubtedly due to the influx of Irish Larkin folk crossing to England in search of relief from hunger and distress during the Great Famine.. 

The Irish Arms:  Our clan emblem represents a papal knighthood awarded to Sir Teig Ó Lorcáin, recorded as having “died in Genoa in January 1589 A.D., coming from Rome”. Checquy gules and argent, a cross azure. Burke's General Armoury p585; Heraldic Scroll of Ireland - Mullins. This would appear to be the only officially recorded Larkin arms for Ireland. The Heraldry Society of Ireland suggests it to have "the highest probability of being native Irish." O'Lorcáin - O'Lurkaine, Lorkan, Lorkin, Larkin, Larken, Larkan, Larkings &c... descendant of Lorcán (diminutive of Lorc -rough or fierce). The name of several distinct families in different parts of IRELAND. The Blue cross ( a cross azure) represents a shield awarded to a participant in the crusades; the red squares (checquy gules) represent war, while the silver (checquy argent) represent peace. This checkerboard pattern may also reflect the King of Ui Maine, Maine the Great, who is sometimes referred to in the annals as "Maine of the Checkerboards".

The Galway Sept of the Larkin Clan, which originated in the ancient kingdom of Hy-Many in County Galway,  have their own arms. This was as a result of the marriage of Brían Lorcán to Mary Lawrence about 1640. Brían Lorcán was head of the Larkin families, and Mary was the daughter of Walter Lawrence of Ballymore; whose family had established the town of Lawrencetown, County Galway. These arms represent the coming together of the two families; the cross regule (branched) of the Lawrence's with the Milesian Lion of the Gaelic Lorcán family. These arms can be seen in situ at the graveyard of Meelick Church, County Galway; within which was the Larkin Chapel and their ancestral burial vault.

Above is a rubbing of the arms depicted on the tomb of Anthony Lorcan who was buried within the Larkin Chapel in 1744, alongside his wife Elisabeth McDermott. The Cross regule is taken to be scarlet, as is the original Lawrence cross; and the Milesian Lion is in blue, as is always the heraldic convention within Connacht.

Copyright © 2010 Pádraic Ó Lorcáin. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10 May 2010 13:44:49.

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