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Boswell Name Study

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Surnames/tags: Bosville Buswell Boswall
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This is a One Name Study to collect together in one place information about the Boswell surname and the many variants of that name. The hope is that other researchers like you will join our study to help make it a valuable reference point for people studying lines that cross or intersect. Please contact the project leader, add categories to your profiles, add your questions to the bulletin board, add details of your name research, etc.

There are many variations of the name used in historical records, and some like Buswell have developed into distinct branches. Here are some of the name variations that are associated with the name Boswell:

de Bosville, de Bosvil, de Bosuelle, (derivations of the original Norman name)

Boswel, Boswal, Boswall, Bosuell, Boswaill, Bosvil, Boswill, Bosswill, Bozwell, Boiswell, Baswell (these variations appear mostly in Scotland)

Buswell, (seems to have started in Clipston, Northamptonshire)

Many of these variations appear to be caused by scribes or priests writing the name as they heard it, as the family members were not literate at the time, and sometimes even siblings are recorded with different variations. This can create problems when choosing the correct Last Name at Birth (LNAB), and my view is that where the eccentricity in the name is likely to be caused by phonic interpretation, the LNAB should be Boswell, so they will show up in searches, and the phonic variation noted in "Other Last Names"

Origin of the Boswell/Buswell/Boswall name

There has been some discussion about the origins of the Boswell name, but it is widely thought the name in England evolved from the name de Bosville that is first recorded in the Roll of Battle Abbey. Most, if not all, of the Boswell lines that can trace their ancestry back to Norman times, can be traced back to one person, Sieur Robert de Bosville who, it is said, had a command in the Norman army at the battle of Senlac, or Hastings.

There is discussion on whether de Bosville was his surname, or the name of his estate, or the name of his village, or just a name descriptive of the place he came from, e.g. Bos + ville = "a town by a wood.

An internet search reveals that there is a village called Bosville in Normandy, half way between Le Havre and Dieppe. This seems a likely candidate for the origin of the name, as it is close to the centres of power of William of Normandy. There is certainly scope for more research here.

In 2023 the web site auxpaysdemesancetres.com give the following information: Bosville is a small rural village of the Pays de Caux, surrounded by the communes of Saint-Vaast-Dieppedalle, Grainville-la-Teinturière and Cany-Barville, it is located 3 kms from Grainville-la-Teinturière the largest town around. Bosville was an important village under Roman rule. Wells, walls, coins bearing the effigy of the Roman emperor Gaius Vibius Trebonianus Gallus (206/253) are discovered on the territory. The village communicates by the valley with Gravinum (Grainville-la-Teinturière) which leads to the Durdent. In 912, Bosville was part of the fief of Grainville under the suzerainty of the county of Longueville and with the hamlets of Bieurville, Ruville and Touffrainville formed a small independent seigneury. The domain of Bosville remained in the hands of the lords of Grainville until the eleventh century. Then, a new lord takes the name of the land granted to him. A lord of Bosville is one of the knights who, under the leadership of Duke William II of Normandy called the Conqueror (1024/1087), seized England in 1066. No sources are cited for this information.

Chris Gurney has written (Jan 2019): As we know, in the Farleigh Priory charter of Humphrey de Bohun, among the witnesses are Ilberto de Chaz, Bartholomew Bigod and William de Boesavill. The Bohuns came from the area south of Carentan, now represented by the villages of St. Georges de Bohon and St. Andre de Bohon; Ilberto de Chaz came from the village now known as Catz, a few miles east of Carentan, and Bartholomew was a nephew of Ilbert. To the north of Carentan, there is the village of Beuzeville-au-Plain, about 5 km NW of Carentan is the village of Beuzeville-la-Bastille, and east of Catz is the region now known as Les Veys. According to www.wikimanche.fr, these places were known about 1150 as Bosevilla in Plano, Bosevilla and Beusevilla super Vada, respectively. I think that we can therefore be confident that this William de Boesavill came from this area north of Carentan. I haven't been able to trace the other witnesses, but I imagine they were a group of friends from the same area. But note, there is no need for them to have been at Farleigh when the charter was signed; they could equally well have been at some legal centre, where legal documents were dealt with. This may have been at the King's court,or even in Normandy itself; this thought suggests that finding a name of a witness on a charter does not guarantee that said witness is anywhere near the place that the charter applies to. Therefore, all we can get from a witness name is that they existed, but not where. Unfortunately, the Farleigh charter is undated, but can be deduced to be about 1170 based on the names of the witnesses and the generations of Humphrey de Bohun, even though the Farleigh Priory may have been founded as early as 1120. If this date is correct, and William did go to England, this William is a relatively late arrival to England. But then I found this site http://www.chateaudeplainmarais.fr/fr/index.php?menu=histoire1 (When I first found it, it was all in French. But after a while, it now provides me with English text.) This refers to Robert Count of Mortain as the main lord of Beuzeville-la-Bastille in and before 1086. Their translation:- …to rely only on incontestable documents, Robert, count of Mortain, is the first lord of Beuzeville that we knew: in 1086, he assigns a prebend created for the college chapter of Mortain, in whom he grants more the dime (tenth?) of the fair of Beuzeville (deciman feric Bosonisville) (4).

One of the first acts announcing the existence of the castle of Plain-Marais is the register of fiefs drawn up under Philippe-Auguste (1165-1223): he mentions for feudatories Robert de Beuzeville, holding a quarter of stronghold of Haubert, and Henri de Beuzeville for a half -fief of knight. At the same time, we see Geoffroy de Beuzeville appear as a vassal of Richard d'Harcourt, Baron of Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte (5). Probably this is a separate branch of the house of Aigneaux: indeed, while the latter had, and this since well before 1066, the seigneury of Carneville, in the North Cotentin, we see according to the same chessboard, erected between 1200 and 1204, that Geoffroy de Beuzeville, heir and representative of Corbin d'Aigneaux, "its eldest "(6) (A fief of hauber is, in France, in the Middle Ages and under the Old Regime, a stronghold originally owned by a knight in Normandy and Brittany.)

Thus, if our family came from this area, Robert Count of Mortain, lord of Bosevilla (amongst others), may be the origin of the legendary Bosville companion of William the Conqueror. Robert of Mortain, Sieur Robert, was one of the few men definitely in the battle (though he’s not a Bosville, being the son of Herluin de Conteville). The humblest peasant or slave in that area would have bragging rights about his lord ever after! But then, since he was Lord of the ville of Bosevilla, perhaps he was our ancestor after all...?! There is also the charter of Enisan de Walton re Stone church, dated to c1130 and witnessed by Ingelger de Bohun and William de Boesavilla. The Quarr Abbey charter of Engelger de Bohun is dated to 1132, witnessed by William de Bosevilla. The association with Ingelger de Bohun suggests that these Williams (with brother? Gervase) are the same. I wonder if the 'a' ending to Boesavilla is significant (to both place and time)? William and Gervase are associated with Ingelger de Bohun, so might they come from the same area in about 1140, but the 'a' ending is dropped by 1170? If so, we also have Geoffrey and son Simon de Bosvilla about 1120-30 just to the east of Bayeux, and there is the Ricardus de Besewilla, the rent-collector for Ankerus of Lewes priory 1123-30.

Some researchers cast doubt on some of these claims of origin, and on the work by J.J.Boswell. Part of the problem is the variability of the spelling of surnames in the Middle Ages, and the reliability of some sources quoted.

So, for example, Chris Gurney writes (Dec 2018): "I can find no primary evidence for any Sieur de Bosville at the time of William the Conqueror. In particular, there is no mention of Bosville (in any of its spellings) in the Domesday books on line. (Though there are a lot of less important Richards and Roberts without surnames. But no Martins either.)

I can find no evidence of Bosvilles at Castleacre.

Elias de Bosville is mentioned in Yorkshire, and brother Fulk (probably deceased) and a sister who married William son of Raven. But contemporary documents clearly state that Elias had only one heir, a daughter named Lettice, so there can be no Bosville descendants from him. An Elias, son of Hugh, is mentioned, but no surname definitely attributed.

A quick search on Google shows that there was a William Blundeville who married Elizabeth Bosville, but that was in the late 1300's, not in the early 1100's... https://archive.org/stream/visitacionievisi32ryew#page/40/mode/2up

Wikipedia claims that Ada, the daughter of the second earl Warrenne, married Henry (1114 - 1152), eldest son of David King of Scotland, so it wasn't an Earl Warenne who went to Scotland. Henry was half brother to Simon (II) st. Lis; this Simon founded De la Pre abbey, and a Richard, Ralph and William de Beseville also made donations thereto. Perhaps they are the origins of the Scottish Boswells?

I have found a Michael de Bosseuille who had links with Faramus de Boulogne and Buckinghamshire. Perhaps he was the origin of the supposed ancestor Martin? JJB does not rate Glover, but I do rate Glover's entry that says Thomas (married to daughter of Hugh of Nash near Aylesbury) was the father of Sir John of Darfield. I have found a lot of links between the Basevilles/ Besevilles/ Bossavilles etc of Springfield, Surrey and Buckinghamshire, the key ones being Hugh de Chaccombe and the Le Flemings who were Lords of Darfield provide a path to Yorkshire."

To counter this Stephen Ralph Boswell writes (Dec 2018):

You said that you could find no evidence of a Bosville at the time of William The Conqueror. In 1999, my son, Paul, and I visited all of the places in England that our ancestors lived from 1066 until they came to America in about 1638. When we visited Battle Abbey, we bought a chart, in color, that had the names and crests of the principal leaders in the conqueror's army. One of the names on the chart was something like Bossuille, though not spelled that way. Someone, who may have known nothing about it, theorized that this was the Latin equivalent of Bosville. It is close enough that it could be evidence that there was a substantial Bosville among the leaders. In the next paragraph is a reference to the History of Norfolk, by Bloomfield. I have not seen that. Maybe some of the recipients have. Does it confirm that Sieur de Bossuille was, in fact, an important man in the conquest. And, does the fact that Sir Robert Bosville was the Treasurer of England, under King Rufus, show up in any contemporary records? Below are notes from my file on Sir Martin Bosville.

"Sieur de Bossuille, named Robert, came over with William the Conqueror; he had a command at the Battle of Hastings, and was named in the Roll of Battle Abbey. He settled in Castleacre, Norfolk, in feof to William, Earl Warrenne."

"The settlement of Sieur de Bossuille is confirmed in the History of Norfolk, by Bloomfield. He was succeeded by William, his son, in his residential estate, with others more to the south, which points to the conclusion that his father married in England,having issue, William and Clarembald.

"It is not clear whether Anthony and Richard were also his sons; they may have been brothers of Robert. Richard was certainly present at the Battle of Senlac [Hastings], and would have lands bestowed upon him independent of those awarded to Sieur de Bossuille. This would account for William succeeding to the paternal estate.

"Anthony is placed in this genealogy wholely on the strength of Glover's pedigree, which is, in the earlier part, clearly a fabrication (as explained in chapter ii). Although I insert Anthony's name in the pedigree, I have doubts if he ever existed, no other trace of him being discoverable; but as there was no succession, it does not affect the Genealogy.

"That there was a Richard or Roger is confirmed by evidence to be given hereafter; also that he had a son, Ralph, as well as a son, Fulcon. I think it possible, as already stated, that Richard may have been a brother of Sieur de Bossuille, but whether brother or son, the succession finishes with Ralph and Fulcon, and like that of Anthony, the placing of his name in the pedigree makes no material difference, the succession being satisfactorily traced from William.

"Sieur de Bossuille was undoubtedly a man of some position to have been given a command, and would have lands in proportion to his rank, not necessarily all in one county. Some of his lands appear to have been in the South, as both William and Clarembald bestowed lands on Faversham Abbey."

Source: Pages 8-10, History And Genealogical Tables of the Boswells, by Jasper John Boswell, printed in 1906.

On page 5 of the book, Fortunes of a Family, by Lady Alice MacDonald of the Isles, published in 1928, in Edinburgh Scotland, the author makes the following statement:

"From both Pedigree and Memoirs [meaning the Memoirs of the Boswell Family, written by Godfrey Bosville] we learn that Sir Martin [or, Sir Robert, according to Jasper John Boswell, in his book, discussed immediately above this article] de Bosville was Treasurer of the Conqueror's Army. This assertion is to a certain extent borne out by the Roll of Battle Abbey in the History of Normandy (page 1028), which is in the Advocates Library, Edinburgh, [there is a note at the bottom of the page that says, SeeDouglas's Baronage, page 307] where we are told that the Sieur de Bosville had a considerable command in the army of William the Conqueror at the memorable battle of Hastings, where King Harold was slain. Whatever post he held, we find that Sir Martin [or Sir Robert] flourished and that he left children and lands behind him when he died and was buried at Missindry Abbey, which he is said to have founded. His wife was the daughter of Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, and they had three sons: Anthony, the eldest; Richard, ancestor of the Scottish branch of the family; and Clarembald, the Prior of Missindry Abbey (since called Faversham) in Kent.

"And the Memoirs go on to state that in 1087 Sir Martin [or Sir Robert] was Treasurer of England to William Rufus the King, and that he died in the fifth year of the same King's reign, 1092, at his manor of Chawforth in Buckinghamshire, having held the estate twenty-six years--that is, since 1066; and they go on to say that Sir Martin [or Sir Robert] gave lands to his younger children, which was customary at that time, as money was so extremely rare, and observe that Oxspring in Kent was most likely one of his estates, for it was then the method to join the name to the nature of the place, as Bosville--an ox and a town; and Oxmuir--an Ox and a moor;--the place where the Bosvilles first settled in Scotland in the Shire of North Berwick, Richard his second son going there with Queen Margaret in 1068--Oxmuir was once called Bosville's land. The crest, like the name of the land, alludes to Bosville--It is a Bull in a Bush."

On page 307 of The Baronage of Scotland, by Sir Robert Douglas, it says the following:

"All our antiquaries agree that the sirname of Boseville (now Boswell) is of French extraction.

"Sieur de Bosville, a man of rank and distinction, came from Normandy to England with William the Conqueror, had a considerable command in his army at the memorable battle of Hastings, where king Harold was slain, anno 1066."

"Sir Martin de Bosville, in Normandy, Treasurer to the Army of William The Conqueror."

Source: Page 226, The Fortunes Of A Family, Bosville Pedigree.

"Not quite ten miles due south of Saint-Valery-en-Caux in Normandy is the little village of Bosville (in these days a junction on the Rouen railway), which is still famous for its market and fair; and is still surrounded by the fertile pres sales, those good sea-mist swept meadows so excellent for cattle. Indeed, the oxen of this district were so famous that the very name of the village tells you so, Bos, being Latin for bull, and villa, for a country dwelling. This latter syllable has been turned into the French, ville=a town.

"From this spot came, in the eleventh century, the progenitor of the Bosville family--Sir Martin de Bosville, Knight.

"No doubt he had his castle here, where the later chateau now stands, close to the little church dedicated to St. Samson.

"For Bosville and its lord, the meeting in 1065, at Lillebonne Castle, whither Duke William of Normandy summoned his vassals to consult with them as to his projected invasion of England, must have been thrilling. Most of Duke William's people were not at all anxious to make the attempt, and considered that they should not be asked to fight beyond the sea. Whether Sir Martin agreed with them or not, the meeting was big with fate for many a Norman. For Duke William prevailed in the council and presently led his barons to victory over Saxon Harold at Hastings (in 1066), and England became a mine of rich gifts for them all.

"There is a paper at Thorpe written long afterwards by a descendant of the Norman knight--the fourth Godfrey Bosville--who composed Memoirs of the Bosvilles, a book which, alas! appears to have vanished, but to which reference is made by the historian Hunter in a note upon page 283 of his History of Hallamshire. The paper at Thorpe is probably part of the first rough copy of these Memoirs and is a mere fragment, but even so it is a valuable source of information as to the founding and growing of the family. Its very existence, even in its mutilated state, is rather a marvel, as its pages were all thrown about among old papers and letters in a box and were little thought of; indeed one finds upon them in several places the inscription, 'Of no Use.'

"Godfrey Bosville writes in a most discursive strain, often deserting family records to soliloquise over matters such as the wickedness of monopolies, the origin of the names of village inns, etc., etc.; still, much of interest about his family can be gleaned from the few pages left. The date of these scattered leaves is fixed by the fact that one of them, used on one side for the Memoirs, is on the other side of a letter not addressed to Godfrey Bosville but to Mr. Watson, his brother-in-law. This letter is chiefly a receipt for a bill of 120 pounds, and is dated 20th July 1758. But Godfrey Bosville evidently did not hurry over his writing, as Hunter, in the second volume of his South Yorkshire, in a note on page 349, gives a copy of the following declaration:

"I, Godfrey Bosville of Gunthwaite, in the year 1765, finished this account of the family according to the writings and have likewise wrote the Catalogue of the writings to which it refers, because in my younger days, I employed an attorney at a guinea a day, for three days; to destroy such as were useless; and I am afraid that he destroyed several that were at least curious. Since that time I have been taught, by Mr. John Wilson of Broomhead, to understand them in some small degree and have wrote upon them what they are, and have left this pedigree lest my successors should be guilty of the same folly with myself.'

"Godfrey Bosville seems to have been helped by an Alexander Bosville, who, though he begins his letters to Godfrey, 'Honoured Sir,' yet signs himself, 'Your most affectionate kinsman and humble servant.' A letter of his, dated from London on 19 July 1694,is addressed to 'Godrey Bosville, Esquire, at Gunthwaite Hall, to be left at Edward Firth's in Sheffield, Yorkshire.' From Hunter's pedigrees we learn that this Alexander Bosville belonged to the Braithwell branch of the family and was a printer in London(see page 207).

"The Memoirs seem largely to follow a Pedigree, still at Thorpe, drawn up for Francis Bosville of Gunthwaite in the year 1586 by Glover, Somerset Herald and Marshall to Norry King-of-Arms; this Pedigree, emblazoned with many coats of arms, is still in excellent preservation at the present date, 1928.

"Douglas in his Baronage, under Boswell of Balmuto (page 307) remarks, a propos of Richard having reached Scotland with Queen Margaret, that he more probably came to Scotland in the reign of Margaret's son David, who had been educated in England and had formed friendships with Normans there and had brought back some to Scotland with him, bestowing lands on them. The whole article in Douglas is very interesting, and so too is the one upon Boswell of Auchinleck."

Source: Pages 1-6, The Fortunes Of A Family (Bosville Of New Hall, Gunthwaite And Thorpe) Through Nine Centuries, by Lady Macdonald Of The Isles, Printed by T. And A. Constable, Ltd., Edinburgh, Scotland, 1928.

NB: The papers of the Bosville-Macdonald family, which includes the papers of Godfrey Boswell of Gunthwaite may be found at Hull University Archives, Hull History Centre, see this link: https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/search/archives/d2e99f53-0446-3ee8-b2c7-79ea092476f4 or this one: https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/data/gb50-uddbm

The large genealogical chart of the Bosvilles in St. Peter's Church in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada, starts out with a conflicting genealogy at the top, from the one in, The Fortunes Of A Family. The St. Peter's Church pedigree chart reads like this:

"Sieur De Boseuille, named Robert; came over with William The Conqueror, he had a command at the Battle of Hastings, and was named in the Roll of Battle Abbey. He settled in Castleacre, Norfolk, in feof." Children: [Note: In Fortunes Of A Family..., his name was Sir Martin Bosville].

1. Anthony De Boseville, Knight Of Castleacre. [This son is in Fortunes....]. 2. Richard De Boseville. [This son is in Fortunes Of A Family....]. 4. Clarmobald De Boseville. Was a Monk, and Prior of Faversham Abbey. [This son is in Fortunes Of A Family....]. 3. William De Boseville; of Castleacre. Succeeded to his father's residential estates, with others more south. He gave a large grant to Faversham Abbey in Kent Co., as well as other grants in Norfolk, being the Church of Newton, to the Monks of Lewes. [Note: This William de Bosville was a son of Anthony (No. 1, above), rather than a son of Sir Martin de Bosville, in Fortunes Of A Family....].

Children of 3. William: 1. John De Boseville, Knight Of Castleacre. 2. Otuel De Boseville. Mentioned in Pipe Rolls and charters as son of William. 3. Michael De Boseville. 5. A daughter who married John De Burch of Norfolk. This couple had a son, who became the King's Chamberlain. 4. Elias de Boseville, Knight, of Castleacre. Married a daughter of Adam de Newmarch. Was a Knight in feof of the Earl of Surrey and Warren; and settled in Harthill, Yorkshire, after his return from the Crusades, where he accompanied the 3rd Earl. Itis said, he brought his heart to England for interment at Lewes. Elias gave lands to Nostel Priory, and a Church to the Monks of Lewes.

Children of 4. Elias de Boseville: 1. Sir John De Boseville. Died 19 Henry III (1235); married Alice de Darfield, daughter and heir of Hugh de Darfield, of Darfield. [Note: This Sir John De Bosville was a son of John de Bosville and Agnes Folyot, rather than a son of Elias de Boseville, in, Fortunes Of A Family....]. 3. Elizabeth De Boseville. Married Sir William Blundeville of Newton, Norfolk. 2. Robert De Boseville. Accompanied the Lord Warren at Conningsborough, in Scotland; who was, afterwards, William The Lion, King Of Scotland, who ennobled Robert, and granted the lands of Oxmuir, in Berwickshire, for his services. This Robert was the progenitor of the Scotch Boswells.

Children of 2. Robert De Boseville: 2. Pagani de Bosvil. Bestowed lands on the Abbey of Kelao, 1240. He probably died without issue. 1. Adam de Bosvil. Succeeded to Oxmuir. He married a daughter of Philip Locquhore about 1240.

Children of 1. Adam de Bosvil: 1. Roger de Bosvil, of Oxmuir. Succeeded about 1249. o.b.: s.p. [without children]. 2. William de Bosvil of Roxburgh. Succeeded his brother, Roger, in the lands of Oxmuir.

Children of 2. William de Bosvil: 2. Richard de Bosvil, who had, also, other lands. Succeeded in Oxmuir, Boswell's lands, etc., about 1320. He had a son, William de Bosvil, who succeeded to Oxmuir. 1. William de Bosvil of Roxborough, named Aldermanus de Bosvile. He married Isabella de Merlington.

Children of 1. William de Bosvil: 2. Adam de Bosvil, of Roxburgh. Was Sheriff of Perth, 1342. 3. Alexander de Bosvil, of Roxburgh. 4. William de Bosvill, of Roxburgh. 1. Roger de Bosvil. Succeeded in Fife, where he had lands in marriage with his wife. He married Margaret, or Mariot, Lockors, daughter and co-heir of William Lockors, of that ilk.

Children of 1. Roger de Bosvil: 1. John de Bosvil, who succeeded his father. He married Margaret Melville, 1387.

Children of 1. John de Bosvil: 2. William de Bosvil, of Roxburgh. 1. Sir John Boswell, Knight, of Belgrevy. ob. 1429. Married Margaret, or Mariot, daughter and heir to Alexander Jardyn (brother of Sir Umphrey Jardyn of Applegirth), by his wife, Margaret Abernathy, daughter and heir to Sir John Abernathy.

"All of the above data is from the Boswell History by J. J. Boswell. All that follows is taken from the records of the College Of Arms, London."

There are few similarities between the above data, and that presented in, The Fortunes Of A Family. It is obvious that much research needs to be done to reconcile these discrepancies. I have chosen to follow the charts in Jasper John Boswell's book, because it seems to be a more scholarly work than the book, Fortunes Of The Family, by Lady Macdonald Of The Isles.

The Parent Tree Of The Boswell Family, prepared by Jasper John Boswell, and printed by Henry Jenkinson, of Leeds, England, 1n 1900, says the following about Sir Martin Boswell:

"Sieur de Boseuile, whose Christian name is said to have been Martin, came over with William The Conqueror. He had a command at the Battle of Seniac [Hastings], and was one of the surviving officers named in the Roll of Battle Abbey made the day followingthe Battle. He died at his Manor of Chawford, Buckinghamshire, 1092."

However, the author of that chart, Jasper John Boswell, corrected that statement in his book, The Boswell Family, printed in 1906. He insists that the original Bosville who came with William "The Conqueror," was named, Sir Robert.

A major narrative history of the first 100 years of the Bosville family in England, beginning with Sir Martin Bosville, in 1066, was written by Alexander Bosvile, and given to his cousin, Godfrey Bosville, under the date of 7 November 1692. The narrative history was accompanied by a genealogical chart. It shows four sons of Sir Martin Bosville: Anthony (who married Hellena Ratcliff); Gulielmus [William] (who was a witness, with his wife, to the charter of Humphrey de Bohun about the foundation of the Priory of Earnleigh, in 1125)(which wife was not known, but with which he had a son named Hugh de Bosville); Ricardus [Richard] (who had a son named Ricardus, by an unknown wife); and _______ , [Clarembald, from other sources] (made by his father, Prior of Myssindry,which was founded by his father, which appointment forbid him to marry). Robert, (Sieur De Boseuille), came over with William The Conqueror. He had a command at the Battle of Hastings, and was named in the Roll of the Battle Abbey. He settled in Castlemere, Norfolk Co., England, in feof to William Earl Warrenne.

Source: Genealogical Table in St. Peters Church, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada.

A couple of days spent in the Bibliotheque Mitterrand in Paris has yielded an updated version of the origin of the name Boswell. Some family names are patronymics: Hansen, Janik, Richardson; others are names of crafts: Dyer, Baker, Smith; still others are place names, and this is where the name Boswell belongs. Back in the 6th century A.D., when France was not yet France but was still part of the Roman Empire, the countryside was covered with tracts of land we would call 'manors' and which in Latin were called 'villae'. Thus: Marcovilla, Claudiovilla, Juliovilla, each bearing the name of the Lord of the Manor. When the Franks invaded, their chiefs took the places of the Gallo-Roman feudal lords. Boson being a Frankish name, several manors in what was later to become Normandy were renamed Bosonvilla, and there are still to this day a number of communes in Normandy bearing the name of Beuzeville. Five centuries later (in 1066), William defeats Harold at Hastings, in southern England, and one of his henchmen is a noble from one of the places called Bosevil. As a member of the victorious party he is awarded tracts of land in England, and so what was up to then a place-name turns imperceptibly into a family name, at first Bosville, but later generally Boswell as the name is anglicized. The name Bosville survives in Yorkshire as the name of a prominent branch that intermarries with the Macdonalds of the Isles. The name is carried into Scotland a hundred years or so after Hastings and the Boswells of Scotland are proprietors of Balmuto and Auchinleck and produced the famous writer James Boswell in the 18th century. RBoswell@stny.rr.com.

Followups: * Re: The 6th century origins of the name Boswell M. A. Rigdon 11/09/01

o Re: The 6th century origins of the name Boswell Gordon McConnell 12/31/01

+ Re: The 6th century origins of the name Boswell Marianne Rigdon 1/13/02

# Re: The 6th century origins of the name Boswell Gordon McConnell 1/14/02

* Re: The 6th century origins of the name Boswell Marianne Rigdon 1/16/02

o Re: The 6th century origins of the name Boswell Gordon McConnell 1/16/02

+ Re: The 6th century origins of the name Boswell michael nichols 11/03/05

# Re: The 6th century origins of the name Boswell Norman McBurney 11/07/05

* Re: The 6th century origins of the name Boswell michael nichols 11/07/05

* Re: The 6th century origins of the name Boswell Gordon Mc Connell 11/07/01

2. You said that you could find no evidence of any Bosvilles in Castleacre. Here are some notes that are on my computer about the families of William de Bosville, and Elias de Bosville:

"William De Bosseville, of Castleacre, son and heir of Robert (1), succeeded to his Father's estates in Norfolk, and elsewhere, was a Knight in feof to the Earl of Warren and Surrey, is mentioned in many Charters. He largely endowed Faversham Abbey, and gave the Church of Newton in Norfolk to the Monks of Castleacre."

"This William de Bosseville, son of Robert, with Clarembald, by an English wife, succeeded to his father's estates, not only in Norfolk, but in London and elsewhere; he was a man of great distinction and repute, well recorded by charters, etc. He is first noted as a witness to a charter of Humphrey de Bohun, 1125, next in a charter of Geffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, 1141, and was a benefactor to the Abbey of Walden in Essex, founded by this Geffrey de Mandeville. He also gave large possessions to the founding of Faversham Abbey in Kent. He is also mentioned in the Pipe Roll of 21 Henry I, as a landowner in Essex, pp. 53, 60, and is also found in Hearn's 'Liber Niger,' p. 29, as a tenant of the Earl of Essex, (1 1/2 fees de vet fief) but what is here granted is the manor of Springfield Hall, which Ralph de Boseville formerly held of the House of Peverel of London, by the service of two Knights (see Pipe Roll, chapter II.) Sir William Peveril held Whittington Castle, and had also a house in London. He had a daughter of uncommon beauty, by name 'Mellet,' who was won after being fought for by the grandson of the first Earl Warren, son of Philip de Warren, of Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, the ancestor of the Irish Warrens."

"This William Peveril was a natural son of William the Conqueror, according to Banks in his 'Stemmata Anglicana,' se also Glover's History of Derby, pp. 372, 376.

"Geffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, in the charter of the King which I describe in Chapter III, names [William de Bosseville] him as a Knight. Why he should associate himself with Geffrey is easily accounted for: William de Warren, Earl Warren and Surrey, his Lord, was with the King [William the Conqueror] in Normandy, and took the side of the Earl of Essex in the struggle between King Stephen and the Empress Maud for supremacy. Being closely associated with the Mandevilles in Norfolk, William de Bosseville would necessarily attach himself to his Lord's party, and his being a tenant of the Earl of Essex, fell in heirship through the death of Ralph de Bosevile, the last of his brother Richard's family.

"His large donation of lands to the foundation of Faversham Abbey would naturally follow from family association. In Henry II's confirmation of the endowment which was made on the petition of the Lord Warren, his Lord, he undoubtedly followed a loyalfeeling, which was enhanced by the fact of his brother Clarembald being the Prior.

"It appears that all the lands in the south held by various members of the family were here disposed of: 1st, Fulcon's, namely, Ospringe on Kent; 2nd, William's, Southwark and some other part of London; 3rd, Clarembald's, Westbrook in Ospringe, with Godwinstow and Bosindina in Surrey. These appear to have been considerable gifts, but perhaps at that time very little more than waste lands, and may mean but portions of lands in these places.

"William could spare his property for so good a cause, and having his settlement in Norfolk, would not feel the loss. With Clarembald a Monk, and Richard, Ralph and Fulcon dead, the southern association ceased. William de Boseville also gave the Church at Newton in Norfolk to the Monks at Castleacre Priory."

Source: Page 23-25, History and Genealogical Tables of the Boswell Family, by Jasper John Boswell, 1906.

"Robert de Bosseville was succeeded by his son William (so named probably after de Warren) in his estates at Castleacre and elsewhere; he also settled there and followed the fortunes of the Earls of Warren and Surrey, as much or more so than his father. From this William's public deeds and actions, we can gather the immense estates he possessed not only in Norfolk, but also in London and Kent, in every action of gift or otherwise he follows the Warren interest. He joins the forces of Geoffrey de Mandevilleas a Knight, not only because this Geoffrey was of Norfolk extraction, but because his Lord Warren, supported this Geoffrey de Mandeville (who was Earl of Essex) in the dispute between King Stephen and the Empress Maud for the English crown, his immediate Lord being in Normandy. He could have done it for nothing else but only by request or to please his Lord or in his interest, as he required no remuneration. He did have remuneration which he passed on to his son Otuel who was afterwards Geoffrey de Mandeville's chief tenant in Essex, and one of his Knights. Had De Mandeville's actions been more successful, perhaps William might have gained a title. William de Bosseville gave a donation by charter of land and a church in Norfolk to the monks of Lewes Priory, which was confirmed by his successors. This Priory was the pet institution of the Warren family, founded by the first Earl Warren and Gundred his wife; next find this William de Bosseville giving large estates to the endowment of Faversham Abbey, of lands in Southwark,Kent, etc. This endowment had a double interest to William, first, because it was made on the Lord Warren's petition for a charter; to be confirmed by King Henry II, and secondly, because his own brother Clarembald was Prior of the Abbey. This Clarembald also bestowed his estates in the south of England on the endowment, and with these large gifts by the various Bosevilles to Faversham Abbey, all connection with lands in the south of England ceases. The whole family of the Boswells appear after this to be settled in Norfolk on lands in the Warren fee. William de Boseville was succeeded in Castleacre by his son John who resided there. He married into the influential family of the Mounteneys of Yorkshire, in which county he must have had estates, and was buried in Barnborough Church, Yorkshire. John was succeeded at Castleacre by his son, Wakeline de Boseville, who married Agatha de Haddeston and succeeded to Haddeston, j.u., in addition to his father's estates. Wakeline was succeeded by Robert and Robert by his son William de Boseville of Haddeston, who dying s.p., his widow Marjory settled the Norfolk estates in 1314 on Robert de Boseville, a Yorkshire relative."

Source: Pages 92 and 93, History and Genealogical Charts of the Boswell Family, by Jasper John Boswell.

Source: Genealogical Chart and narrative history of the first 100 years of the Bosville family in England, from 1066; written by Alexander Bosville for his cousin, Godfrey Bosville, and dated 7 November 1692. William de Boseville, of Castlemere, succeeded to his father's estates, with others more south. He gave a large grant to Faversham Abbey, in Kent, as well as other grants in Norfolk, being the Church of Newton, to the Monks of Castlemere.

Source: Genealogical Table in St. Peters Church, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada.

There is no son of the immigrant, named, William, in The Parent Tree Of The Boswell Family, printed in Leeds, England, in 1900, by Henry Jenkinson.

Also, the son of William by the name of Elias, is listed as a son of Anthony de Bossuile, in this source.

"Elias De Boseville, son of William (2) of Castleacre, married a daughter of Adam De Newmarch, was a Knight in feof of the Earl of Warren and Surrey, and settled at Harthill, Yorkshire, after his return from the Crusades, where he accompanied the 3rd Earl. It is said he brought his heart to England for interment at Lewes. Elias gave lands to Nostel Priory, and a church to the monks of Lewes."

Source: Page 40, History and Genealogical Tables of the Boswell Family, by Jasper John Boswell.

"William de Boseville's son Elias accompanied the 3rd Earl of Warren and Surrey, who, after his imprisonment at Winchester by King Stephen for joining the fortunes of Geoffrey of Anjou and the Empress Maud, went to the Crusades with Louis, King of France. When this William, the 3rd and last Earl Warren and Surrey in the direct line, was killed, it is said this Elias [Bosville] brought his heart home to England for interment at Lewes Priory. Elias on his return from the Crusades was granted new lands by theWarren family under their lordship in the Connisborough fee, Yorkshire, where he settled. He married a daughter of the family of the Newmarches, who appear also to have been in the same Crusade with Elias, and probably they returned together, having the Warrenrelic in charge between them, for they appear to have had about an equal share of the lands at Harthill, etc., in the Connisborough fee. Connisborough Castle was then held by William, son of Ada Warren, daughter of the 2nd Earl, and sister of the 3rd LordWarren. Ada had married Henry, Earl of Huntingdon, the eldest son of David, King of Scotland, and by him had Malcolm, William and David. After King David's death, Malcolm the eldest son became King of Scotland, when Ada returned to England and resided atConnisborough Castle with her son William."

Source: Pages 93 and 94, History and Genealogical Tables of the Boswell Family, by Jasper John Boswell.

" Elias de Bosville, Knight, in feof to the 3rd Earl Warren and Surrey, accompanied him to the Crusades; married ________, daughter of Adam Newmarch, of Harthill, Yorkshire."

"This William de Warren, Earl of Surrey, was accompanied to the Crusades by several Knights, amongst other by one Helias de Bosevill, who he states was his favourite Knight, so much so that he brought his heart to England to be buried in Lewes priory. This Helias, he further notices, was of a very illustrious family who were long associated with the Warren family, being the son of one William de Bosevill, an eminent Knight dwelling on the Earl of Warren and Surrey's estates; and lastly he mentions as fa ras this history is concerned that this Helias had a son Robert, who was a constant companion of William, son of Ada, William the 3rd Earl's sister's son, who afterwards ascended the throne of Scotland, where he was supported by faithful adherents. This Robert was the founder of the Scotch Boswells."

Source: Pages 23 and 71, History and Genealogical Tables of the Boswell Family, by Jasper John Boswell.

"Anthony Bosville, Knight...son and heir of Sir Martin, married Helen, daughter of Thomas Radcliff, Knight, and had three sons, William, John, and Elias. This latter [Elias] gave lands to Nostell Abbey in Yorkshire, and his gift was confirmed in 1159,the fifth year of Henry II, according to Dugdale's Monasticon (vol. ii, page 37). This benefaction to Nostell by Elias de Bosville, the first of that surname to be found in South Yorkshire, where Bosvilles were afterwards so numerous, was confirmed by William'de Warren,' son of Prince Henry of Scotland, Count of Northumberland, by Ada, a sister of the last Earl of Warren of the old line. This William 'de Warren' became, in 1165, William The Lion, King of Scotland. Hunter, in his South Yorkshire (vol. i, pages376 and 377), enters a copy made by him of this confirmation which he found in the great Chartulary of Nostell (now in the Cotton Library, Vesp. E 19 f.57). The name of Elias is there recorded as Helias de Bossavilla, and Nostell is called Nostlat. Huntersays that this document shows that the Warren part of Barnborough was held by Elias de Bosville before the Newmarches. All this seems a proof of the old tradition that a Bosville was the friend of that Earl of Warren who became King William The Lion of Scotland."

Source: Pages 7 and 8, The Fortunes Of A Family, by Lady Alice Macdonald Bosville, 1928.

"Elias de Bosville. Benefactor of Nostell Abbey, Yorkshire."

Page 226, The Fortunes Of A Family, Bosville Pedigree.

This is a duplicate of RIN 8870, which has a completely different ancestry, and descendancy, in the Bosville genealogical charts in the St. Peter's Church, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada.

In the Parent Tree Of The Boswell Family, printed by Henry Jenkinson, Leeds, England, it says that Elias de Bosvile, third son, gave lands to the Nostel Priory. Under Elias Bosville on this chart, there are two children: "Sir John Bosvile, Knight, died19th Henry 3rd," who married "Alice, daughter of Hugh de Darfield, by Clara, his wife;" and "Robert de Bosvile [who] went to Scotland with William de Warren of Conisbro, who was, afterwards, William The Lion, King of Scotland, who rewarded him for his serviceswith the lands of Oxmuir, and others. No children are listed under Sir John Bosvile and Alice de Darfield on this chart. The wife of Robert de Bosvile is not listed, but two children are listed: Adam de Bosvile, of Oxmuir; and William de Bosvile, of Roxburgh.

This is a major discrepancy, and needs further research.

Elias de Boseville, Knight of Castlemere; married a daughter of Adam de Newmarch; was a Knight in feof of the Earl of Surrey and Warren, and settled in Hartbill, Yorkshire, after his return from the Crusades, where he accompanied the third Earl. It issaid he brought his heart to England for interment at Lewes. Elias gave lands to Hostel Priory, and a Church to the Monks of Lewes.

Source: Genealogical Table in St. Peters Church, Cobourg,

3. Your comments about Elias having no Bosville heirs doesn't match with the information that is in the above sources. Could all of the authors be wrong, or did one person make the mistake, and all of the others copy the information. That is common in genealogical research. In my file, I have three children of Elias: John de Bosville, eldest son, Knight; Robert de Bosville, Nobleman; and Elizabeth de Boseville. His son John, was the one who married Alice de Darfield in most of the sources available to me.

See here for more on the Normans and their origins, including the extract below. http://clanhay.net/HISTORY/Normandy_Roots.php

"But the majority of the Scots names that derive from the incoming Norman-Scots have their roots in Normandy and the places from which they sprang are still in existence. The port of Dieppe is a good place to start ..... and shortly after leaving here on the coastal D75 road is St. Valery. A short detour inland is the hamlet of Bosville from whence sprang the famous Norman Scots family of Boswell. They first obtained lands in Berwickshire but by marriage later acquired lands in Fife and Ayrshire. "

The lines of descendants from Robert de Bosvile formed two main groups, in Yorkshire and in Scotland, where the first use of the anglicised version of the name Boswell is seen in Sir John Boswell, Knight of Balgrevy, who died in 1429, and who was the ancestor of all the Scottish Boswells that have been traced to date. In Yorkshire the name changed even earlier with Thomas Boswell of Ardsley who married in 1362 Alice, the daughter of John de Gunthwaite, and started the Gunthwaite line of Boswells. Before these two men, earlier generations had all used the name Bosville or de Bosville, but as spelling was quite variable in those days, it was also rendered as Bosvil, Bosueille, Boseville, etc.

It is highly likely that there are other lines, especially those descended from younger sons (cadet lines) which have not been traced back this far, or connected to the lines already traced, but it is difficult to trace these lines back without good documentary evidence.

Extract from THE BATTLE ABBEY ROLL WITH SOME ACCOUNT OF THE NORMAN LINEAGES. BY THE DUCHESS OF CLEVELAND, Published LONDON : JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.1889. found at http://www.battle-abbey.co.uk/battleabbeyrollw01battuoft_tjw.htm#Busseuille

"Busseuille, or Bosevile (Leland). The Bosviles probably derived their name from Boschevile, a town between Pont Audemer and Honfleur, now famous for its market and fair. Or, according to another authority, from Boseville, near Caudebec. A William de Boseville is a witness to a charter of Humphrey de Bohun in 1125. Michael, son of William de Boseville, was a benefactor to Warden Abbey, Beds, and is spoken of by Geoffrey, Comes de Maundevyle, as his knight, in the same chartulary. Again, a Richard and Ralph de Boseville were early benefactors to the house of De la Pré, near Northampton ; and in support of the presumption that this Ralph was of the same family as the Bosvilles of Yorkshire, it is observed that the device upon his seal was an ox issuing from a holt of trees, a badge used afterwards by the Yorkshire family.

Elias de Boseville, who flourished before the year 1159, when Henry II. confirmed his donation to Nostell Priory, was probably the ancestor of the latter. He appears to have been a person much connected with the Newmarches, to which connection the Bosviles owed the five fusils in fesse they bore on their shield, afterwards distinguished by three bears' heads, or some other figure in chief. Sir John Bosvile, living 1252 and '54, married the heiress of Darfield. They were afterwards seated at Ardsley and Newhall, Chevet, and Peniston-Coningsburgh, Warmsworth, Braithwell, and Ravenfield, Yorkshire, and Belhouse Grange, Notts. Their vast possessions must have placed them in the very first rank of the gentry of the North. Robert Bosvile was Constable of Pontefract in 1333. Thomas Bosvile, the last male, who died in 1639, desired in his will that he might be buried among his ancestors in the quire of the parish church of Darfield." Hunter's South Yorkshire. At the east end of the south choir one of their monuments, with effigies of a knight and lady of the time of Richard II. the knight wearing the collar of SS as a Lancastrian badge is still to be seen.

The name did not perish with this Thomas, but continued to be represented by various junior branches ; and one of them, that had been seated at Gunthwaite, in the same county, from the time of Henry VI., survived till 1813. The first Boseville there was Richard, who died in 1501, and had Gunthwaite and other lands by gift of his mother ; but he and his two immediate successors chiefly resided at Beighton, in Derbyshire, where they were farmers of the estate of Lord Dacre of the South. In the following generation, Ralph, a younger brother of Godfrey (the first of that name of the family), acquired a large fortune as clerk of the Court of Wards, and " bought Bradbourne, near Seven Oaks and Eynsford in Kent, where the descendants of his two sons, Henry and Sir Robert, were among the principal gentry of the county as long as they continued." Another Bosville, the heir of Gunthwaite, " was a captain in Ireland, and there either slain or lost in a bog." His son, Godfrey, married Margaret Greville, a cousin of Lord Brooke, settled among his wife's kin, at Wroxall, in Warwickshire, and adopted their politics. He represented Warwick in the Long Parliament, held the rank of a colonel in the Roundhead army, and was present at the defence of Warwick Castle and the taking of Coventry in 1642. The last heirs-male were the two sons of another Godfrey Bosville (obt. 1784), and both of them soldiers; one lain in Flanders, and the other died s. p. in 1813, leaving two sisters, married to Lord Macdonald and Viscount Dudley. The elder, Elizabeth Lady maid, inherited the property, and her son Godfrey added the name of Bosville to his own.

At Rossington, a few miles from Doncaster, lies buried Charles Bosvile, one of this family, " still remembered in the traditions of the village as having established a species of sovereignty among the gypsies, who, before the enclosures, used to frequent the moors about Rossington. His word amongst them was law ; and his authority so great, that he perfectly restrained the pilfering propensities for which the tribe is censured, and gained the entire good will for himself and his people of the farmers and the people around. No gipsy for many years passed near Rossington without going to pay respect at the grave of him whom they called their king; and I am informed that even now, if the question were asked of any of the people who still haunt the lanes in this neighourhood, especially about the time of Doncaster races, they would answer that they were Bosvile's people He was a gentleman with an estate of about £200 a year, and is described by De la Pryme, of Hatfield, as * a mad spark, mighty fine and brisk, and keeps company with a great many gentlemen, knights, and esquires, and yet runs about the country.' " —Hunter's South Yorkshire. He was the predecessor of Bamfylde Moore Carew, who several years later, adopted a similar mode of life. The headstone on his grave had disappeared even before Hunter's time ; but it continued for a number of years to be a place of pilgrimage for the gipsy tribes, who used to visit it once a year, and there perform some of their accustomed rites. One of these (a curious survival of the old heathen libations) consisted in pouring a flagon of ale upon the grave.

I have met with the name in several other counties. "In 1180, 100s rent in Higham and Wykin were given by Robert Bloet, in fee simple, to Guarinus de Busa Villa." —Nichol’s Leicestershire. In Norfolk, Boseville's Manor (or Hedeston), was named from Walkelin de Boseville, who acquired it in 1199 by his wife, Agatha de Hedeston. It continued for nearly two hundred years in the name, for the last possessor, Adam de Boseville, died in 1363. "

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Hi Alan,

I would be very interested to know the link you have found between Michael de Bosseuille and Faramus de Boulogne. There is a charter concerning Faramus de Boulogne and the Boseville family (ref:- BEC/27, King’s College Cambridge Estate Records KCAR/6/1/0, Abbey of Bec) and I would be very interested to know if there was a family connection. Any help would be very much appreciated. Thank you and kind regards James

posted by James Verrier-Jacobs
Hi James,

I think the only proven link is the charter you mention, and it is deduced from that charter that there is likely to be a family connection, but nobody has evidence of what it is (at least at present, as far as I am aware!)

posted by Alan Boswell
This might eventually be of interest to researchers. It apparently relates mostly to James Boswell, estates and papers of the nobility.

There is a description of the contents, but it appears there is room for more detailed study. https://archives.yale.edu/repositories/11/resources/894

posted by J Briller
Some sources of information are listed on this page, but I think it would be a good idea to set up a separate page for "Boswell" sources, linked to this page, so I will do that soon.
posted by Alan Boswell
My family is connected to the Gunthwaite line through my mom's mother's ancestors. We live in South Dakota, USA. Over here, I believe we are all "Buswells" with a "U" rather than "O" -- Isaac Buswell Sr. was the emigré from England to America in the 1630s.

I am uncovering some local history books published in New England that are now available online. Is there a central place to post sources such as titles of these volumes, along with a summary of what Buswell history is documented within?

posted by Romy Klessen
I have entered many Boswells into Wikitree and I am keen to find links to the many other branches of Boswells and related family names that I know are out there.

In particular, the links from the UK Boswells to the US Boswells and the Irish Boswells are not well documented.

posted by Alan Boswell