According to historical records, people who carry the surname Lin are the descendents of Bi Gan, a loyal subject of King Zhou from the Shang Dynasty.
Bi Gan, the son of Prince Ding, son of Emperor Shang, was King Zhou's uncle. King Zhou was bloodthirsty and immoral, so Bi Gan stayed at the palace for three days and nights to try to persuade him to mend his ways. This enraged King Zhou and Bi Gan was killed.
When Bi Gan's pregnant wife, who bore the surname Chen, heard of her husband's death, she fled into some woods and gave birth to a baby boy, who she named Jian.
After the Shang Dynasty was toppled by the Zhou Dynsty, the position of Bi Gan's wife and son was restored. King Wu conferred the surname Lin (meaning woods or forests) on Bi Gan's son, because he was born in some woods.
By People's Online