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Bulloch History by Roger Allen
Historic origins of the Akins name
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    Haakon I (or Haakon the Good) was the third king of Norway (from 935 to 961). The Norwegian first name Hååkon (also spelled Håkon, Hakon or Haco) means "High Son". When his half-brother, Eric Bloodyaxe, succeeded King Harold, his other brothers helped Haakon seize power. The Southern Islands (Inner & Outer Hebrides, Kintyre, and the Isle of Man) were Norwegian territory. Therefore, it wasn’t surprising when King Haakon the 1st’s daughter (known as the Princess “Saucy Mary”) married Scottish Mackinnon Clan Chieftain Findanus in 900 A.D.
    The MacKinnons had assisted King Robert I of Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence, and were rewarded with their island estate. They ruled from “An Caisteal Moal,” which after Findanus’ marriage to Mary became known as “Dun Akin”. This fortress overlooked the narrow sound between Skye and the mainland. It is said that Findanus and his bride ran a heavy chain from Skye to Lochalsh and levied a toll on all shipping passing through. The legend is that Mary, following payment of the tolls, would flash her bosom as the ships passed.
    The Scot’s tried to buy back the islands, but the Norwegians weren’t interested in selling. This led to war. Haakon the 4th led over 120 ships, which carried a force of between 12,000 and 20,000 men, into battle on the Scottish mainland in 1263. The Norwegian “Leidang” (or peasants’ army) was defeated by Scottish King Alexander III at the Battle of Largs, after which the Scots regained their territory. The Straits were renamed Kyle Akin in honor of his bravery.
    This naming of the castle is the first known incidence of the use of the name Akins in Scotland. Members of the Clan Akins were among the thousands of Scots who eventually moved south to the Scottish Border Highlands region.  Across the border in Ireland new variations of the Akins names’ spelling began to be seen: Aikins, Akins, Eaken, Eakin, Eakins, Ekin, and Ekins. Little of the family records of this time have survived, unfortunately, for Lord Oliver Cromwell’s ships, which were carrying stolen Scottish and Irish family histories as the booty of war sank off of Berwick-upon-Tweed with nothing saved.
    In a somewhat curious twist, there is some evidence of Flemish merchants (people from the northern half of Belgium in the Flanders region) who traveled to Scotland’s eastern coastal areas. The Flemish name “Aachen” refers to a province of Western Germany located near the Belgian and Netherlands borders, where there was a thriving linen industry, which conducted trade throughout Ireland, Scotland and England in the 1200’s. This could have become the name “Akins” as well.
    “Aken”, “Akin”, and “Aiken” are all said to mean, literally, “Oaken”. The Scottish clan “MacEachen” name could be very easily shortened over time to “Eaken” or “Aiken”. The Gaelic family named “Eachainn” (which means “Horse-lord”) may have a connection to the ancestors of some of the contemporary Aikins families. Furthermore, the Irish clan O’Hagan (some say an early progenitor to Aikins) inaugurated Irish Chieftain O’Neil.
    The Scots-Irish were very interested in the new Virginia settlement of James Towne (colonized in 1607). Members of the Clan Akins were among those who came to America. Between 1717 and 1776, some 250,000 Ulster Scots left Northern Ireland mainly for the United States, including over 6,000 who arrived at the port of Philadelphia alone. They soon made their mark in the “New World.”
    Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at Bulloch County's historical past. E-mail Roger at roger
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