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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, Scottish

Where did the English Boyd family come from? What is the English Boyd family crest and coat of arms? When did the Boyd family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Boyd family history?

The illustrious surname Boyd is classified as a habitation surname, which was originally derived from a place-name, and is one form of surname belonging to a broader group called hereditary surnames. Habitation names were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Topographic names, form the other broad category of surnames that was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree.

Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties. As a general rule, the greater the distance between an individual and their homeland, the larger the territory they were named after. For example, a person who only moved to another parish would be known by the name of their original village, while people who migrated to a different country were often known by the name of a region or country from which they came. Boyd is a place-name from in England from early times. But the name arrived from Brittany about the time of the Norman Conquest. As the story goes, Alan, Baron of Oswestry arrived from Dol in Brittany with his three sons, William, Walter, and Simon. Walter, Simon and Simon's son Robert Buidhe moved north to Scotland. It is thought that the as the son's hair was blond his name was so coined. In fact, the Gaelic word buidhe, means yellow.


Since the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules, Breton surnames have many spelling variations. Latin and French, which were the official court languages, were also influential on the spelling of surnames. The spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules. Therefore, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England after the Norman Conquest, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. The name has been spelled Boyd, Boyde, Boid, Boyt, McElwee and others.

First found in Shropshire where Alan, Baron of Oswestry (c. 1078- c. 1114) arrived from Dol in Brittany with his three sons, William, Walter, and Simon. Walter moved north to Scotland and became scion of the first Royal Stewart house of Scotland. Simon followed and his son being blond was named Robert Buidhe which was eventually to become Boyd. The Stewarts granted their cousins, the Boyds, extensive lands in Scotland.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Boyd research. Another 285 words(20 lines of text) covering the years 1263, 1306, 1460, 1467, 1549, 1550, 1580, 1646, 1661, 1692, 1704, and 1746 are included under the topic Early Boyd History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Boyd Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Boyd family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 161 words(12 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Boyd, or a variant listed above:

Boyd Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Alexander Boyd, who arrived in Maryland in 1674

Boyd Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Martha Boyd, who landed in Massachusetts in 1712
  • Jean Boyd, who landed in Louisiana in 1718-1724
  • Adam Boyd, who arrived in New England in 1723
  • Archibald Boyd, who arrived in New England in 1742
  • Dougal Boyd, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746

Boyd Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Margt Boyd, who arrived in America in 1804
  • Jas Boyd, aged 26, landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1804
  • Saml Boyd, who landed in America in 1804
  • Wm Boyd, who arrived in America in 1804
  • Charles, Boyd Sr., who landed in South Carolina in 1806


  • Louise Arner Boyd (1887-1972), American Arctic explorer
  • Eliza Stewart Boyd (1833-1912), first woman in America ever selected to serve on a jury
  • James Boyd (1888-1944), American novelist
  • William Clouser Boyd (1903-1983), American biochemist
  • Brigadier-General Leonard Russell Boyd (1891-1977), American Assistant Commanding General 93rd Division (1943-1946)
  • Mr. John Boyd (d. 1912), aged 35, English Saloon Steward from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking
  • Billy Boyd (b. 1968), Scottish actor and musician
  • Martin a Beckett Boyd (1893-1972), Swiss-born, Australian novelist from a notable family of artists
  • Stephen Boyd (1931-1977), Canadian (Northern Ireland born) film actor
  • Gilbert Allan Rowland Boyd (1903-1975), British nobleman, 6th Baron Kilmarnock of County Ayr, Scotland



  • The Boyds of Albany: Three Generations by Joanna B. Newton.
  • The Boyds of Boyds Tank by Frank Ewell Boyd.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Confido
Motto Translation: I confide.


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  1. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  2. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  3. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  4. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  5. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  6. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  7. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  8. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  9. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  10. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  11. ...

The Boyd Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Boyd Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 4 April 2014 at 22:26.

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