Show ContentsBois History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Bois is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. 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. The name Bois is derived from the Old French word "bois," which means "wood," and indicates that the original bearer lived near a wooded area, such as a forest. [1]

Early Origins of the Bois family

The surname Bois was first found in various parts of Scotland including Hugo Delboys who witnessed a confirmation charter by Hugh, Bishop of St. Andrews c. 1185-1188 according to the Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae. A few years later, Richard del Bois witnessed a confirmation charter of fishery in Torduf between 1194 and 1211. [2]

About the same time, Walterus de Bosco witnessed a charter by Robert the Bruce c. 1190. Robert Boys was listed in Dumfriesshire c. 1259. Willelmus de Bosch or de Bosco, cancellarius domini regis, appears frequently as witness in the chartularies of Soltre, Glasgow, Kelso, Brechin, and Arnbroath between 1189-1222. Gaufridus de Bosco, Humphrey de Bosco, and Thomas de Bosco appear as charter witnesses between 1215-1245. Robert Boys is recorded in Dumfriesshire, c. 1259. [2]

The Scottish branch of this ancient Norman family likely moved north from England to their first place of landing and settlement after the Conquest, as many of the earliest records of the family in Scotland were almost 100 years later. By example, Robert de Bois held estates in Buckinghamshire in 1086. The De Bois-Herbert family were barons of Halberton, Devon c. 1050.[3]

"Sir Humphrey de Bois, of Dryfesdale, who was slain at Lochmaben in 1333, is supposed by Dalrymple to have been the ancestor of Hector Boece, the historian." [4]

Early History of the Bois family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bois research. Another 128 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1150, 1296, 1413, 1719, 1465, 1536, 1543, 1594, 1543, 1594 and are included under the topic Early Bois History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bois Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Boyce, Boyes, Boze, Bois, Boise, Boice, Boas, Bost, Bust, Boast, Boost and many more.

Early Notables of the Bois family (pre 1700)

Notable among the family at this time was Hector Boece (sometimes spelt Boethius, or Boyce) (1465-1536), a Scottish philosopher and first Principal of King's College in Aberdeen. John Boste or Boaste (1543?-1594), was and English Catholic priest, "born of a good family at Dufton, in Westmorland, in or about 1543, and educated at Oxford. He was imprisoned in the Tower, where he was 'often most cruelly rack'd, insomuch that he was afterwards forced to go crooked upon a staff.' When he had so far recovered as to be fit to travel, he was sent back to the north, and...
Another 99 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bois Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bois Ranking

In Quebec, Canada, the name Bois is the 560th most popular surname. [5] However, in France, the name Bois is ranked the 612nd most popular surname with an estimated 7,728 people with that name. [6]

Ireland Migration of the Bois family to Ireland

Some of the Bois family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 60 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Bois migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Bois Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John Bois, who landed in Virginia in 1705 [7]
  • Jacques Du Bois, who arrived in Louisiana in 1719 [7]

Canada Bois migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Bois Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century
  • Mathurin Bois married in Chateau-Richer, Quebec in 1672
Bois Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Jacques Bois married in Rivière-Ouelle in 1704
  • Jacques Bois, son of René and Reine, who married Anne Soucy, daughter of Jean and Jeanne, in Rivière-Ouelle, Quebec on 5th March 1704 [8]
  • Jacques Bois, son of Jacques and Anne, who married Angélique Mignier, daughter of Michel and Angélique, in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, Quebec on 30th November 1730 [8]
  • Bernard Bois, son of Jacques and Anne, who married Madeleine Pelletier, daughter of Jean-François and Madeleine, in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, Quebec on 26th November 1736 [8]
  • Charles Bois, son of Pierre and Jeanne, who married Geneviève Letarte, daughter of Joseph and Catherine, in L'Ange-Gardien, Quebec on 5th November 1742 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Bois (post 1700) +

  • Raoul Pene Du Bois (1914-1985), American costume designer and scenic designer, nominated for two Academy Awards in the category Best Art Direction
  • William Pène du Bois (1916-1993), French American author and illustrator
  • Travis Du Bois Jr., American politician, Mayor of Waco, Texas, 1970-71 [9]
  • George Du Bois, American politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Albany County 2nd District, 1900 [9]
  • Coert du Bois (b. 1881), American politician, U.S. Consul in Paris, 1919-20; Naples, 1920-21; Port Said, 1922; U.S. Consul General in Batavia, 1927-30; Genoa, 1931; Naples, 1931-35; Havana, 1938 [9]
  • Major-General Thophile-Eugne-Dsir-Marie Bois (1880-1974), [10]
  • Brigadier-General Samuel Bois (1890-1958), French Commanding Officer during World War II [11]
  • Rob du Bois (b. 1934), Dutch composer, pianist, and jurist
  • Daniel "Danny" Bois (b. 1983), Canadian professional ice hockey winger
  • Yve-Alain Bois (b. 1952), Algerian historian and critic of modern art
  • ... (Another 5 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  3. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  4. Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 1 of 3
  5. "The first 1,000 family names by rank, Quebec (in French only)" Institut de la statistique du Quebec,
  7. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  8. Internoscia, Arthur E., and Claire Chevrier. Dictionnaire National des Canadiens Français 1608-1760. Vol. 1, Institut Drouin, 1958.
  9. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 13) . Retrieved from
  10. Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, October 3) Thophile-Eugne-Dsir-Marie Bois. Retrieved from
  11. Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, October 3) Samuel Bois. Retrieved from on Facebook