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Bookplate of the Rev. Thomas Levett, Arms of Levett impaling Gresley, Packington Hall, Staffordshire

Levett is a surname of Anglo-Norman origin, deriving from that of the French de Livet, which is held particularly by families and individuals resident in England and British Commonwealth territories.


Assembled partygoers at Tranby Croft, 11 September 1890. The Royal Baccarat Scandal. Pictured are Capt. Berkeley Levett and Edward, Prince of Wales and others.

This surname derives from the village of Livet-en-Ouche, now Jonquerets-de-Livet, in Eure, Normandy. Here the de Livets were undertenants of the de Ferrers family, among the most powerful of William the Conqueror's Norman lords.[1] The name Livet (first recorded as Lived in the 11th century), of Gaulish etymology, may mean a "place where yew-trees grow".[2][3]

The first de Livet in England, Roger, appears in Domesday as a tenant of the Norman magnate Henry de Ferrers. de Livet held land in Leicestershire, and was, along with Ferrers, a benefactor of Tutbury Priory.[4] By about 1270, when the Dering Roll was crafted to display the coats of arms of 324 of England's most powerful lords, the coat of arms of Robert Livet, Knight, was among them.[5] Some Levetts were early knights and Crusaders; many members of both English and French families were Knights Hospitallers,[6] and served as courtiers.[7]

English Levetts[edit]

A Levett family settled in Derbyshire was extinct by the early sixteenth century.[8] A family of the name resident in Sussex at Warbleton and Salehurst[9] also held the manor of Firle[10] until it passed from family control in 1440 due to the debts of Thomas Levett,[11] whose bankruptcy also necessitated the loss of Catsfield, East Sussex. Sussex deeds indicate instances of 'Levetts' attached to place names, indicating possession by individuals and families of that name.[12][13][14] In 1620, John Levett, of Sedlescombe, Sussex, was forced by financial hardship to sell his half-interest in Bodiam Castle, inherited family land and property across Sussex and Kent, including at Ewhurst, Salehurst, Battle, Sussex and Hawkhurst, Kent, to Sir Thomas Dyke, for £1000; this represented the end of these Levetts as prominent landowners.[15]

Families of the name Levett (also Levet, Lyvet, Levytt,[16] Livett, Delivett, Levete, Leavett, Leavitt,[17] Lovett and others) would subsequently settle in Gloucestershire, Yorkshire,[18] Worcestershire, Suffolk, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Kent, Bedfordshire and Staffordshire.

By the mid twentieth century, only two prominent Levett families remained; that of Milford Hall, Staffordshire and that formerly of Wychnor Hall, Staffordshire (and Packington Hall).[19][20] Milford Hall passed in the female line to the Haszard family,[21] and Wychnor Park was sold by the Levetts to Lt-Col W. E. Harrison in 1913, this later becoming a country club.[22]

The Levett-Scrivener family (descending from a daughter of the Milford Hall family) retains the ruin of Sibton Abbey, which they have made available to historical societies and researchers;[23] the Levett-Prinseps (a branch of the Wychnor Park family) were unable to maintain Croxall Hall; it was sold in 1920 and the estate was broken up.[24]

By 1871, although family tradition of a common ancestor of the Milford Hall and Wychnor Park Levett families was mentioned in the latter pedigree, the earliest listed ancestors of each family were, respectively, William Levett of Savernake, Wiltshire, page to King Charles I at the time of his death in 1649, and Theophilus Levett, who died 1746.[25] Even the 1847 edition, produced at a time when Burke's publications were inclusive of vague, unproven 'family traditions' (a practice subsequently widely criticised),[26][27] makes no mention of any earlier ancestors or Norman origin in either family's pedigree.[28]

Capt. Levett Landon Boscawen Ibbetson, descendant of merchant Francis Levett, dueling in a trilobite exoskeleton. Drawn by his friend Gideon Mantell, fellow member of The Royal Society

Individuals of the name of Levett (and its variants) appear in all social strata: John Levett, a guard on the London to Brighton coach, was convicted of petty theft and transported to Australia in the nineteenth century; English records reveal Levetts embroiled in bastardy cases or relegated to poorhouses.[29] A Francis Levett was a factor living in Livorno, Italy, travelling back and forth to Constantinople for the Levant Company. He subsequently failed at British East Florida as a planter; his son Francis Jr. returned to America, where he became the first to grow Sea Island cotton.[30]

The execution of King Charles I of England, to which he was accompanied on the scaffold by courtier William Levett, Esq.

A notable individual of the name was the unschooled Yorkshireman who, having worked as a Parisian waiter, then trained as an apothecary. Robert Levet returned to England, where he treated denizens of London's seedier neighbourhoods. Having married an apparent grifter and prostitute, Levet was taken in by the poet Samuel Johnson.[31] While Samuel Johnson adopted one Levet as boarder, he was apologizing to another better-placed Levett who held the mortgage on Johnson's mother's home in Lichfield.[32]

Levetts elsewhere[edit]

Sign for Buxted, Sussex, commemorating first iron cannon cast in the Weald by iron foundry of Parson William Levett

Today there are many Levetts (the spelling of the name varies) living outside England, including in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand,[33][34] Canada, and Ireland.

In a few cases Levetts were forced by religious belief to flee England for the colonies. Among these were tailor John Leavitt and farmer Thomas Leavitt, early English Puritan immigrants to Massachusetts and New Hampshire, respectively, whose names first appear in seventeenth-century New England records as Levet or Levett.[citation needed]

People surnamed Levett[edit]

Individuals bearing the surname of Levett include:

Places named after Levett families and individuals[edit]

Hops token, 30 bushels, Exden Hop Farm, Newenden, Kent, Charles Levett, 1865

Places associated with Levett families or individuals[edit]

These places are or were associated with Levett families or individuals:

In media[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ The Origins of Some Anglo-Norman Families, David C. Douglas, Lewis C. Loyd, 1951. New edition, (1980). Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8063-0649-1
  2. ^ François de Beaurepaire, Les noms des communes et anciennes paroisses de L'Eure, éditions Picard 1981. p. 136.
  3. ^ Albert Dauzat and Charles Rostaing, Dictionnaire étymologique des noms de lieux en France, Librairie Guénégaud 1979. p. 406.
  4. ^ Keats-Rohan, K.S.B. (1999). Prosopography of Persons Occurring in English Documents, 1066-1166. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press. ISBN 9780851157221. Retrieved 2011-04-11.
  5. ^ Foster, Joseph (1902). Some Feudal Coats of Arms from Heraldic Rolls. London: James Parker & Co. p. 155. Retrieved 2011-05-04. robert livett feudal coats of arms.
  6. ^ Kerdu, Pierre Marie Louis de Boisgelin de (1805). Ancient and modern Malta, as also, the history of the knights of St. John of Jerusalem. 2. London. p. 310.
  7. ^ Ashburnham, J.; Ashburnham, G.A. (1830). A Narrative by John Ashburnham of His Attendance on King Charles the First from Oxford to the Scotch Army, and from Hampton-Court to the Isle of Wight ...: To which is Prefixed a Vindication of His Character ... and Conduct, from the Misrepresentations of Lord Clarendon. Vol. 1. Payne and Foss. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  8. ^ "General history: Gentry families extinct before 1500 | British History Online".
  9. ^ Attree, F. W. T. (1894). "List of Sussex Gentry at Various Dates, with Descriptions of the Arms of a Few Families not previously noticed". Sussex Archaeological Collections. 39: 122. doi:10.5284/1086058.
  10. ^ Way, Albert (1851). "Examples of Mediaeval Seals" (PDF). The Archaeological Journal. 8: 78. doi:10.1080/00665983.1851.10850815. open access
  11. ^ "Debts of Thomas Lyvet, West Firle, Chancery Records, The National Archives". nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  12. ^ "Archive of the Gage Family of Firle, 1255–1849, East Sussex Record Office, The National Archives". nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  13. ^ "Ashburnham family archives: deeds, 1200–1836, East Sussex Record Office, The National Archives". nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  14. ^ "Ashburnham family archive: Deeds (ASH/4501)".
  15. ^ Battle Abbey; Phillipps, T.; Webster, G.V.; Thorpe, Thomas, firm, booksellers, London (1835). Descriptive Catalogue of the Original Charters, Royal Grants, and Donations ... Monastic Chartulary, Official, Manorial, Court Baron, Court Leet, and Rent Rolls, Registers, and Other Documents: Constituting the Muniments of Battle Abbey ... Comprising, Also, a Great Mass of Papers Relating to the Family of Browne, Ennobled as the Lords Viscount Montague ... with Various Others Relating to the Sidneys, Earls of Leicester, and the Whole of the Webster Family Evidences, Embodying Many Highly Interesting and Valuable Records of Manor Lands in Sussex, Kent, and Essex ... The Whole Bound in Ninety-seven Volumes, Folio ... Price Twelve Hundred Pounds. Thomas Thorpe. p. 150. Retrieved 2017-01-07.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ Cooper, W. Durrant; Ross, Thomas (1862). "Notices of Hastings and its Municipal Rights". Sussex Archaeological Collections: 96. doi:10.5284/1085251. ISSN 0143-8204.
  17. ^ Dictionary of American Family Names. ancestry.com. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-508137-4. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  18. ^ Miscellanea Genealogica Et Heraldica. Hamilton, Adams, and Company. 1896. p. 82. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  19. ^ Burke's Landed Gentry, 17th edition, ed. L. G. Pine, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 1952, pp. 1184, 1517
  20. ^ Burke's Family Index, ed. Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 1976, pp. 104, 125
  21. ^ Burke's Landed Gentry, 17th edition, ed. L. G. Pine, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 1952, p. 1184
  22. ^ "Durham Mining Museum - W. E. Harrison, Lt.-Col., O.B.E., D.L., J.P., C.C."
  23. ^ Hope, W. H. St. J. (1892). "Sibton Abbey" (PDF). Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History. 8 (1): 54. open access
  24. ^ "Edingale Village" (PDF).
  25. ^ A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, ed. Sir Bernard Burke, 1871, vol. II, pp. 785-786
  26. ^ A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Colonial Gentry, Sir Bernard Burke, ed. Ashworth P. Burke, Harrison & Sons, London, 1895, p. 878 (end matter p. 2)
  27. ^ Time magazine, 'Twentieth Century Squires', 10 Dec 1951
  28. ^ A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, 1st edition, vol. I- A to L, John Burke and John Bernard Burke, 1847, pp. 724-725
  29. ^ "John Levett of Lewes, Newspaper Accounts of Trials 1842 & 1845, Rootschat.com". rootschat.com. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  30. ^ "Julianton Plantation, English Plantations on the St Johns River, Florida History Online". unf.edu. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  31. ^ Johnson, S.; Murphy, A.; Chalmers, A. (1810). Essay on the life ... Poems. Luke Hansard & Sons. p. 342. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  32. ^ Boswell, J. (1799). The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.: Comprehending an Account of His Studies and Numerous Works, ... By James Boswell, Esq. H. Baldwin and Son. p. 134. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  33. ^ "What's in a Name? Wychnor, A New Zealand Story, Stephanie Boot". hips-roots.com. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  34. ^ "Herbert Cuthbert Levett, The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Victoria University of Wellington". nzetc.org. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  35. ^ "Portrait of Ada Elizabeth Levett, Staff of St Hilda's College, Oxford, National Portrait Gallery, npg.org.uk". npg.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  36. ^ Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Royal Irish Academy, Hodges, Figgis & Co., Dublin, 1908
  37. ^ The 'Johanna, Countess of Pembroke,' named in this muniment is Isabel de Clare, 4th Countess of Pembroke, as the identification of her husband William Marshall makes clear.
  38. ^ John Leavitt's Family Gathers in Hingham for his 400th Birthday, The Patriot Ledger, June 30, 2008 Archived October 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ Boston (Mass.). Registry Dept; Whitmore, W.H.; Appleton, W.S.; McGlenen, E.W.; Watkins, W.K. (1900). Records Relating to the Early History of Boston ... Rockwell and Churchill, City Printers. p. 139. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  40. ^ "Photo of Letter from Erasmus Darwin to Matthew Boulton, 1766, concerning Boulton's plans to dine with John Levett, revolutionaryplayers.org". Archived from the original on 2010-08-08. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  41. ^ Lord Mayor Richard Levett was elected a member of the New England Company in 1698.[1]
  42. ^ "First Lady of Racing Also a Gifted Author, The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2008". smh.com.au. 16 August 2008. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  43. ^ "Stories by S. Levett Yeats, The New York Times, April 15, 1899" (PDF). query.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  44. ^ Packington Hall, home of Rev. Thomas Levett, Whittington, Staffordshire, ca 1900 Archived 2008-12-19 at the Wayback Machine
  45. ^ Burke, J. (1851). The Royal Families of England, Scotland, and Wales, with Their Descendants, Sovereigns and Subjects: By John Burke & John Bernard Burke. In Two Volumes. Churton. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  46. ^ Williams, A.; Mallett, W.H. (1899). Mansions and Country Seats of Staffordshire and Warwickshire: A Series of Descriptive Articles. F. Brown. pp. 1–64. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  47. ^ Richard FitzTurgis Charter for Roche Abbey, 30 July 1147, The Foundation Charters of Roche, cistercians.shef.ac.uk
  48. ^ The Parliamentary Papers reported a certificate of Archbishop Juxon that "the bearer William Levett was one of the five persons whom his late Majesty (Charles I) the day before his death did, in consideration of his loyalty and faithful service, recommend to the care and provision of his present Majesty."[2]
  49. ^ Beer and Biscuits, cottagepublications.com Archived 2008-12-19 at the Wayback Machine
  50. ^ "View of Levitstown from the River Barrow". kildare.ie. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  51. ^ ""Barrow boys", The Guardian, London, 21 August 2003". theguardian.com. 21 August 2003. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  52. ^ Fitz-Gerald, C.W.; Kildare (earls of) (1858). The earls of Kildare and their ancestors, from 1057 to 1773. [With] Addenda. p. 101. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  53. ^ Geological Survey (U.S.) (1919). Professional Paper - United States Geological Survey. The Survey. p. 14. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  54. ^ Levett Blackborne, grandson of Sir Richard, sold the Levett properties at Kew to the Royal family. Blackborne was a prominent Lincoln's Inn barrister in London, Steward of the Palace of Westminster, and of the Board of Green Cloth. Blackborne was also longtime adviser to the Manners family, Dukes of Rutland, to whom he was related, likely through an illegitimate child of the Duke, as well as an early investor in British colonies in East Florida and Nova Scotia.
  55. ^ Roche Abbey

Further reading[edit]

Printed sources

  • Sons of the Conqueror: Descendants of Norman Ancestry, Leslie Pine, London, 1973
  • The Origins of Some Anglo-Norman Families, Lewis C. Loyd, David C. Douglas, John Whitehead & Son Ltd., London, 1951
  • The Normans, David C. Douglas, The Folio Society, London, 2002
  • Regesta Regum Anglo Normannorum, 1066–1154, Henry William Davis, Robert J. Shotwell (eds.), 4 volumes, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1913
  • The Levetts of Staffordshire, Dyonese Levett Haszard, privately printed
  • "The Fortunes of Some Gentry Families of Elizabethan Sussex," J. E. Mousley, The Economic History Review, April 1959, Vol. 11, pp. 467–482
  • Prosopography of Persons Occurring in English Documents, 1066–1166, Volume 1, Katharine Keats-Rohan, Woodbridge, Suffolk, Boydell Press, 1999

Google Books

External links[edit]