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Title: The Boggs-Livingston Mystery Solved!
Posted by: Rob Livingston
Date: 30 September 2005

The Boggs families of America and Ireland have long held a tradition that they were originally Scots and their name was originally "Livingston".  Stories have been passed around that "The Boggs" was the name of an estate in Ireland that gave these Livingstons from Scotland their surname.  After a lot of tedious research and a stroke of luck, I believe I have finally resolved the mystery of the origin of "The Boggs" families and their ties to the surname "Livingston", or more correctly, "Levington".

It has long been my contention that placenames containing elements such as "Lin", "Len", "Line", "Lyne", etc., are somehow contractions of the element "Levin" - in grammatical terms, possibly a genitive or possessive form of the word.  A good example can be found in Argyll, where we have an early McLea landholding called "Leavinsaig", which alternatively is called "Linsaig". Communities adjacent to "Linsaig" still hold onto the earlier form of this placename element, those being "Leffinchapel", "Lephinmore", and "Lephinbeg".

In Midlothian, the village of "Livingston" sits adjacent to "Lin Manor", "Linwater" and "Linhouse" (seen in earlier maps as "Line Water" and "Line House").  On the "Leven" River in Yorkshire, England one finds "Kirk Levington", which in the Domesday Book of the 11th Century is called "Kirk Lentune".  "West Linton" sits on the "Lyne River" in the Scottish Borders, which is where one finds the village of "Skerling" (as in "Livingston of Skerling", a resident of the Isle of Lismore in the 1640s).  "Skerling" is translated as "Shire of Lyne".

As I was examining various maps of the area around the "Lyne River" in Cumbria, England (shown on a 1636 map as the Leven River), I bumped into a place specifically called "The Boggs".  Located on an old Roman road to the north of Carlisle and Hadrian's Wall, it is clearly associated with Westlinton to the north, "Kirklinton" to the east, and the old "Parish of Kirklinton".  If you want to see the exact location of "The Boggs", go to and enter (find) "Westlinton".  You will then have to zoom in several times and you'll find it just to the south of "Westlinton".  From the Mannix and Whellan's, "History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Cumberland" - - printed in 1847, I found the following information.

"Kirklinton Parish, Anciently called Kirk-Levington, extends about 11 miles on the south-side of the river Line…  Kirklinton hamlet, has an old church, which was of the earliest style of Norman architecture, and is supposed to have been built by Richard de Boyvil, afterwards de Levington, probably in the time of Rufus or Henry I…  

The barony of Levington was granted in the time of the Conqueror by Ranulph de Meschines to Richard Boyvil, whose posterity took the local name de Levington and settled here; but the chief of the family resided at Kirklinton, and a younger branch at Westlinton. After the reign of Henry III, the manor of Kirklinton, which includes the townships of Hethersgill and Middle Quarter, passed to six co-heiresses, whose representatives sold it to the Musgraves, of whom it was purchased by Edmund Appleby, who espoused Dorothy, sole heiress of the Dacres, of Lanercost, in consequence of which his son Joseph took the name of Dacre, and his descendants have since held this manor. The remains of an ancient castle, once a strong fortress, supposed to have been the seat of Richard de Boyvil, may be traced, at the distance of a few hundred yards. It commanded an extensive prospect, along the beautiful vale of Line, to Solway Frith; and the sea is said to have once flowed up this vale nearly to the present hall, where numerous foundations of buildings have been discovered, from which it has been conjectured that a town or port stood here."

I would guess that the Boggs families were either the younger branch of the Boyvil family, described here as settling at Westlinton, which is adjacent to "The Boggs", or residents working on the Barony of Levington lands at "The Boggs".  In another entry of Mannix and Whellan's Gazatteer for Thursby Parish, it is noted that, "The manor of Thursby passed in marriage to Guido Boyvil, a younger son of the house of Levington".

The Boyvils assumed the surname "Levington" from the land they came to possess after the Norman Conquest.  It is obvious that they did not originate it.  I would like people to note that the placename is "Levington", without the "s" one finds in "Livingston".  In the introduction to "Black's Surnames of Scotland", it is noted that "s" at the end of a surname often represents "son".  For instance, "Richards" is "Richard-son"; "Adams" is "Adam-son".  So the "Levings" in "Levingston" could well represent "Levingson town" rather than "Leving's town.  It should also be noted that the "g" in "Leving" is not necessarily original to the name - it is most likely a corruption of the name brought on by Anglo-Saxon influences.  This is supported by the above placename examples where the "g" appears in the nominative form (Kirklevington), but not in the genitive form (Kirklinton).  And it is the "River Leven", not the "River Leving".

Is the "Leving" in "Kirk Levington" a reference to a specific person or is it a description of something associated with the place such as "elm trees" (Welsh 'llwyfen' or Gaelic 'leamhain').  This is probably a good topic for another forum thread.

** This Thread has ended - Please do NOT attempt to resurrect it! **


Title:Date:Posted By:
The Boggs-Livingston Mystery Solved!30 September 2005Rob Livingston
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      The Boggs-Livingston Mystery Solved! Test30 September 2005Young Bachuil
         Passed Test30 September 2005Young Bachuil
   The Boggs-Livingston Mystery Solved!30 September 2005Andrew Lancaster

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