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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

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.

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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.


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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.

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

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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.

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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 United States in the 17th Century


  • Alexander Boyd, who arrived in Maryland in 1674

Boyd Settlers in 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 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


Boyd Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Peter Boyd settled in Conception Bay in 1706
  • Peter Boyd who settled in Conception Bay, Newfoundland in 1706

Boyd Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Alex Boyd, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1801
  • Angus Boyd, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1801
  • Anne Boyd, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1801
  • Cath Boyd, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1801
  • Mary Boyd, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1801


Boyd Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Robert Boyd, a stone-mason, arrived in Van Diemenís Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Robert Boyd, a brewer, arrived in Van Diemenís Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • William Boyd, English convict from Warwick, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 29, 1828, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • Ellen Boyd, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on December 14, 1835, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Austraila
  • John Boyd arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Fairfield" in 1839


Boyd Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • William Boyd landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • Alexander Boyd arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Wyvern" in 1856
  • J. Boyd a farmer, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Romulus" in 1862
  • John Boyd arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Claramont" in 1863
  • Samuel S. Boyd arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Gertrude" in 1863


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  • 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
  • Mr. Fullerton Rimmer Boyd, English Boots Steward from Waterloo, Lancashire, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived 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

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  • The Boyds of Albany: Three Generations by Joanna B. Newton.
  • The Boyds of Boyds Tank by Frank Ewell Boyd.
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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. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  2. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  3. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  4. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  5. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  6. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  7. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  8. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  9. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  10. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  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 8 January 2015 at 12:49.

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