The Origin of the LIN Surname
King Zhou of Shang (reigned 1154 BC to 1122 BC), the last king of the Shang dynasty, had three uncles advising him and his administration. The king's uncles were Bi Gan (also spelled Pi Kan), Qi Zi, and Wei Zi. Together the three men were known as "The Three Kindhearted Men of Shang" in the kingdom. Bi Gan was the son of Prince Ding, son of Emperor Shang and, thus, was King Zhou's uncle.
Unfortunately, Zhou was a cruel king, and the state's citizens suffered tremendously. His three uncles could not persuade him to change his ways. Failing in their duty to advise the king, Wei Zi resigned. Qi Zi faked insanity and was relieved of his post. Only Bi Gan stayed on to continue advising the king to change his ways. "Servants who are afraid of being killed and refrain from telling the truth are not righteous," he said. This put him in danger of incurring the king's wrath. Bi Gan stayed at the palace for three days and nights to try to persuade the bloodthirsty and immoral king to mend his ways.
The stubborn king would not relent and had his uncle, Bi Gan, arrested for treason. Upon hearing this, his pregnant wife (surname Chen) escaped into the forest to protect her unborn child from death. She knew, in time, the king would execute Bi Gan and his entire family. The baby was born in the forest. Alone with no one to help, she grabbed hold of two trees and gave birth to a baby boy whom she named Jian. When she reached the nearest town, she gave her child the surname Lin (Chinese character depicted by two trees).
Before long, Shang Zhou was overthrown and killed by Zhou Wu Wang (Zhou Dynasty, 1134 BC to 256 BC). Zhou Wu Wang knew about the courageous court adviser Bi Gan and sought his wife and child. When he found them, he honoured them in respect of Bi Gan. The mother and child were restored back into the royal family. The new king conferred the surname Lin (meaning woods or forest) on Bi Gan's son, because he was born in the woods.