This is a world famous Scottish, and sometimes Irish, locational surname. It originates from the barony of Pinkerton near the town of Dunbar, in East Lothian, Scotland. It is first recorded in the year 1296 when the landowning nobility of Scotland were required to sign allegance to the short lived republican government of John Balliol overthrown by the famous Robert, the Bruce, in 1306. One of the signatories was Nicol de Pynkertune, and it is said that a surviving example of his seal, although not his coat of arms as this is not known, is inscribed with a mastiff dog and the name Sir Nicolai de Pinkerton.A knighthood in those far off days was less formal than today. It may have implied that he was a trained horsemen with his own armour, and available for service to who ever paid best. The name "moved" to England in the late 14th century when Patrick de Penkerton, so much for spelling, was living under protection in England. Whether this was temporary or permanent is not known. It seems that in the 15th century the barony became part of the estates of the earl of Argyll, and that Pinkertons settled in Ireland from about 1641. The surname Pinkie is also associated with the name, but this is not correct, the Pinkie's being from the lands of Pinkie in Midlothian. The original spelling was Pontekyn, becoming Pinkie in the 16th century.
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