Our Pinkerton Family History


Early Pinkertons

The Potato Famine

Generation 1: Robert Pinkerton

Generation 2: Samuel Pinkerton

Generation 3: Robert R. Pinkerton

Generation 4: Arthur Robert Pinkerton

Generation 5: Ruth E. Pinkerton

Generation No. 1: Robert Pinkerton


Robert Pinkerton was born in Scotland and with two of his brother emigrated to County Antrim, Ireland as a young man.  In County Antrim, he met and married Jayne Lockridge in County Antrim. Robert and Jane had five sons and one daughter, all born in County, Antrim, Ireland. Although we do not know the dates, we know that Robert and Jane lived out their lives and died in County Antrim, Ireland.

Robert Pinkerton and Jayne/Jane Lockridge are something of a cipher in our Pinkerton family history - as a result of the massive destruction of early Irish records during the Irish Civil War we have almost no independent record of either of them. Among the few surviving records we find mention of Robert Pinkerton - there are 3 separate Robert Pinkertons listed in County Antrim for the 1825 Tithe Applotments, for example. What we do have are the mentions of Robert and Jane in the information provided by their son Samuel and Samuel's sons in interviews for a couple of early histories of Waupaca County, Wisconsin. In those histories, Samuel Pinkerton reports the info in the above paragraph and adds that his parents had six children - five sons and one daughter. He does not, unfortunately name them. He does, however, state that he was the youngest of the six. Knowing that there were six children and that the youngest was born in 1803, allows us to estimate that Robert Pinkerton and Jane Lockridge were married about 1790. If we also assume that both were about the normal marriage age for the period, we can then estimate that they were probably born around 1765-1770. These are reasonable estimates, but until we can find more definitive evidence, they remain merely estimates.

The only thing that we know about the lives of Robert Pinkerton and Jane Lockridge is that they were farmers. Samuel Pinkerton reported that he was raised on a plot of rented land - it was far more common for Irishmen to be tenant farmers than landowners during that time period. The farm would almost certainly have been quite small - the kind of farm where "more land was turned with the spade than with the plow" as one gazateer reported for the area.

What we do know for sure is that in the mid 1840s, two of Robert and Jane Lockridge's sons immigrated to America, as did the children of a third son. The records left by these Pinkertons allow us to identify three of Robert and Jane's six children:

Known children of Robert Pinkerton and Jayne Lockridge are:

  1. John Robert Pinkerton4, was born about 1796 in Antrim, Northern Ireland and died about 1876 in Washington county, New York1 2. He married Margaret Devine about 1824 in County Antrim, Ireland. Margaret was born about 1798 in Ireland and died between 1860 and 1870 in Washington County, New York. John and Margaret had children: Mary, William, Samuel D., Robert, and John. The son, Samuel D. Pinkerton, may have been the first of our related Pinkertons to come to America, arriving in 1846 and settling in Washington County, New York - the same county that our ancestor, and his uncle Samuel, settled when he arrived in 1847. Over the next several years, young Samuel D. Pinkerton helped his father and several siblings come to America.

  2. James Pinkerton was born about 1800 in Ballymoney,County Antrim, Ireland. He died there on 29 April 1865, and is buried in the Covenantor Cemetery there3. In about 1823-24, he married Rachel Warrick in Ballymoney, County Antrim, Ireland. Rachel was born about 1795 in County Antrim, and died there on 24 Jan. 1871. Children born to James and Rachel were: Robert, Samuel W., James, William, John, Andrew, and Sarah.

    Four of James and Rachel Pinkerton's children emigrated to America. Three of them, Samuel W. Pinkerton, his brother William and their sister Mary, played a significan role in our family's move to America. When they emigrated from Ireland to Washington County, New York, in 1848, they brought with them our ancestor Robert R. Pinkerton, age 6, his sister, Elizabeth, age 4, and their brother John, age, 2 bringing along the children of his father's brother4. These were the children of their uncle Samuel Pinkerton who, with his wife Mary, had come to America the year before to find a place for the family. Samuel W. Pinkerton and William later moved to Waupaca County, Wisconsin, for some years before finally settling in Page County, Iowa. James Pinkerton's son Robert also emigrated to New York, and lived out his life there, while son John Pinkerton took the road less traveled, eventually settling in Ventura, California.

  3. Samuel Pinkerton was born 1 January 1803 in Ballymoney, County Antrim, Ireland and died 15 October 1892 in Waupaca, Wisconsin. He married Mary Warnock on 10 April 1841, in Balleymoney, County Antrim, Ireland. Children of Samuel and Mary were: Robert, Elizabeth, John, James, Jane, Samuel and William.


  1. Commemorative Biographical Record of the Upper Wisconsin counties: Waupaca, Portage, Wood, Marathon, Oneida, Vilas, Langlade and Shawano by J. H. Beers & Co., (Chicago, Illinois: J. H. Beers & Company, 1895), 804.

  2. 1860 U.S. census, Washington, New York, population schedule, Hebron, p. 18, dwelling 162, family 163, John Pinkerton; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Feb 2011); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll 202.

  3. Convenantor Cemetery (Ballymoney, County Antrim, Ireland), James Pinkerton marker, Photographed by Don and Jane Pinkerton, 1051 East Harvard Rd. Burbank, CA 91501., 1990.

  4. New York. Registers of Vessels Arriving at the Port of New York from Foreign Ports, 1789-1919."Passenger Manifest, Sailing Ship Wolfville;" pages 1-2; citing Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M237,roll 72