Boston Family Crest, Coat of Arms and Name History


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The surname Boston is English and is considered geographical or patronymic in origin. The surname Boston is believed to have derived from a location in county Lincolnshire called “Botwulf’s stone”. This location was named for the original landowner or possibly Saint Botulf who built a monastery in this region during the seventh century. The medieval English name “Botwulf” is a compound word. The prefix, “bot” translates to “peace” and the suffix, “wulf” translates to “wolf”.

The use of surnames was a common practice in medieval France, however, it was not until after the Norman invasion and conquest that it became commonplace in England. The small size of the settlements and villages which existed during the earlier periods across most of England often meant there was no need for surnames as everyone within these communities knew each other and a given name would usually suffice. However, as communities grew and people began to migrate on a larger scale, the Norman aristocracy’s penchant for using surnames was found to serve several practical purposes; it gave the government a reliable way to track people for tax and census purposes, and it allowed people the ability to distinguish themselves, one from another. Those not of the noble class would often be identified by their given name plus their occupation while others may have been identified by their given name and one of their parent’s names. There was a boundless supply from which surnames could be formed, in addition to the use of patriarchal/matriarchal names or reference to the individuals occupation, there were things such as defining physical traits, a familiar geographical location or a topographical landmark found near the individual’s home or birthplace, the name of the village in which the person lived, and so much more. Over the course or time, surnames came to represent not just individuals but whole families.

The multiple occurrence of variations in the spelling of surnames, is attributed to a lack of consistency regarding guidelines for spelling in use by the scribes who recorded such information dating back to ancient times. Many of these record keepers were in the habit of spelling phonetically, however, what may have sounded one way to one person may have sounded completely different to another. The issue of multiple spellings of names in records was compounded by the diversity of languages in use in European countries at this time. Due to these issues, variations in the name can include, but are not limited to; Boston; Bowstone; Bouston; Bostoun; Bauston; and Baustone as well as others.

One of the earliest record of any variation of this surname can be found in the tax rolls from Suffolk county in 1273, wherein is listed William de Boston. The tax rolls, were a series of census and tax records kept by the English Treasury by order of King Edward I, with the oldest dating back to the 12th century. These documents are considered the oldest concentric set of records documenting English governance in the United Kingdom spanning a period of over seven centuries, these records have proven invaluable to researches over the years.

When the Pilgrim founders sailed to America from England on the Mayflower, their initial port of embarkation was the port of Boston. The Mayflower then sailed to Devon and loaded the last group of colonists aboard before crossing the North Atlantic. The city of Boston, Massachusetts was founded nine years and ten months after the Pilgrims settled in Plymouth it was the founders way of paying honor to the port from which they helped to create a ‘New England.’ It is one of the oldest cities in North America, settled by Western Europeans, and was one of the foremost cities in the American war of independence from Great Britain.

With the discovery of the Americas and the addition to the British Common Wealth of countries such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, immigration to these new worlds was inevitable. One of the first settlers on record to America bearing this surname was Henry Boston who landed in 1643 and settled in Virginia. Immigrants to Canada included brothers, Thomas and Cumberland Boston who arrived in 1757 and settled in Nova Scotia. One of the earliest Bostons on record to Australia was Walter Boston who arrived in 1809 and settled in South Wales.

Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Boston are found in the

United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Canada. State by state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Boston live in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. At last count there are thirty five municipalities, towns, and ports named Boston, scattered all over the globe.

There are a number of persons of note who bear the surname Boston; British children’s author, Lucy Boston; American Naval Captain, Ward Boston, Jr.; Scottish theologian, Thomas Boston; and British journalist and writer, Richard Boston among others.

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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) Vert a lion ramp. ar. crowned or. Crest—A horse’s head in armour ppr.
2) Ar. three bats’ wings sa.

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