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Thread: Is Levy a Scottish surname?

  1. #1
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    Is Levy a Scottish surname?

    Levy is reasonably well known as a Jewish surname but I was a bit surprised to read a note on wikipedia saying it can also be a Scottish surname - mind you the two sources they cite for this claim are Irish ;-)

    So I dug out Black and spent some time rummaging through

    and eventually after MacDonleavy -> MacLae -> Dunsleve

    and some checking in the NRS catalogue and ScotlandsPeople old parish registers conclude that it is nothing of the sort. Not with that spelling anyway. There are a very small number floating around the *Lothians* in the mid 19th century but that is hardly good evidence for the wiki claim. The hits in the NRS catalogue all appear to be for the common noun not the surname.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levy_(surname)

    "Levy can also be a surname of French, Scottish, and Welsh origin. It is then a Highland’s shortening of the Irish Mac Duinnshléibhe (anglicized Donlevy). When eastern Ireland’s kingdom of Ulaid fell to John de Courcy in 1177, many of the MacDonlevy dynasty sought asylum in the Highlands of Scotland. Variant spellings of the Scottish surname Levy are Levey, Leevy and Leavy.[1][2]"

    Black has:
    MacDonleavy:see under MacLae
    but even he doesn't seem to cite any instances of 'Levy' that I can see and he was pretty thorough (amazingly so for the pre-Internet period).


    Of course as ever with these matters the Gaelic name might have survived transformed into something else I haven't checked.
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  3. #2
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    Next door neighbours in Dublin were Levy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jessie View Post
    Next door neighbours in Dublin were Levy.
    I should have checked the Irish census especially as it has the religion captured. Most of them are Jewish/Hebrew, a few RC of various occupations. None are natives of Scotland though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacUalraig View Post
    Levy is reasonably well known as a Jewish surname but I was a bit surprised to read a note on wikipedia saying it can also be a Scottish surname - mind you the two sources they cite for this claim are Irish ;-)

    So I dug out Black and spent some time rummaging through

    and eventually after MacDonleavy -> MacLae -> Dunsleve

    and some checking in the NRS catalogue and ScotlandsPeople old parish registers conclude that it is nothing of the sort. Not with that spelling anyway. There are a very small number floating around the *Lothians* in the mid 19th century but that is hardly good evidence for the wiki claim. The hits in the NRS catalogue all appear to be for the common noun not the surname.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levy_(surname)

    "Levy can also be a surname of French, Scottish, and Welsh origin. It is then a Highland’s shortening of the Irish Mac Duinnshléibhe (anglicized Donlevy). When eastern Ireland’s kingdom of Ulaid fell to John de Courcy in 1177, many of the MacDonlevy dynasty sought asylum in the Highlands of Scotland. Variant spellings of the Scottish surname Levy are Levey, Leevy and Leavy.[1][2]"

    Black has:
    MacDonleavy:see under MacLae
    but even he doesn't seem to cite any instances of 'Levy' that I can see and he was pretty thorough (amazingly so for the pre-Internet period).


    Of course as ever with these matters the Gaelic name might have survived transformed into something else I haven't checked.
    From

    Quote Originally Posted by Oxford Dictionary of English Surnames
    Levey, Levi, Levy, Lewey, Lewy, Leuie: Leuue 1066 DB; Ricardus filius Lefwi 1171-2 MedEA(Sf); Agnes filia Lewi 1221 AssSa; Thomas Leui 1228 Eynsham (O); Robert Levi 1275 SRWo; Geoffrey Leuwy 1301 ParlR (Ess). OE Leofwig 'beloved warrior’. Modern Levi is usually the Hebrew Levi ‘pledged' or‘attached'.
    Most of these names seem to centre around Lancashire in the 1881 census which could indicate Irish but Levey is SE England, however nothing to indicate Scotland
    Last edited by jdean; 06-07-2019 at 05:46 PM.

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  8. #5
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    When I look at my Surnames of Ireland book by Edward MacLysaght it says:

    (Mac) Leavy, Levy Mac Con Shléibhe (, hound-sliabh, mountain). This the name of an old Co. Longford sept akin to the O'Farrells. It is only occasionally used as an abbreviation of Dunlevy. The prefix Mac is now rarely retained.
    It is also included on the map in Longford.

    Ireland north surnames.jpg

    There's no Levy in my area that I know of but there are Dunleavy. In 1911 there were only three families (15 people) in Roscommon with the surname but all were Catholic. All 155 Le(a)vy in Longford were Catholic in 1911 so their surname origin was likely Irish.

    There may have been an origin in Ireland and Scotland. Here's the wikipedia page related to the Irish surname: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leavy
    Last edited by FionnSneachta; 06-07-2019 at 06:33 PM.
    Ancestry: Ireland (Paper trail ≅ 81.25% Roscommon, 12.5% Galway, 6.25% Mayo)
    Paternal ancestor (Y): Kelly b. c1830 in Co. Roscommon (Uí Maine)
    Father's mtDNA: Fleming b. c1831 in Co. Roscommon (H27e1)
    Maternal ancestor (mt): McDermott b. c1814 in Co. Roscommon
    Paternal great grandfather (mt): Connella b. c1798 in Co. Roscommon (T2a1a8)

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  10. #6
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    Levi in Wales is mostly from the Old Testament forenames adopted by members of the oldest dissenting chapels, then becoming surnames through the patronymic system. Having said that, the only time I researched someone with that name it turned out that he was the descendant of a Jewish family from Swansea.
    All 32 3xgreat grandparents were Welsh. Two 6xgreat grandparents from England and a few Irish or English surnames before 1800. Paper trail shows several C11th to C14th Anglo-Norman lines and C11th Norse-Irish lines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoebe Watts View Post
    Levi in Wales is mostly from the Old Testament forenames adopted by members of the oldest dissenting chapels, then becoming surnames through the patronymic system. Having said that, the only time I researched someone with that name it turned out that he was the descendant of a Jewish family from Swansea.
    Don't know any Levis but do know a Jeans family : ))))

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  14. #8
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    One of my closest matches on 23andme has the surname Levey. He's 100 percent Irish as far as I can tell.

    Cohan can also be an Irish surname.
    Ethnogene (most accurate so far IMO): Frisian 2.8%, Scottish 19.2%, Welsh 2.4%, English 29.0%, Irish 31.7%, Cornish 1.9%, Irish Traveller 4.0%, French 2.6%, Dutch 1.0%, German 1.8%, Western Indian 1.1%, Central/Southern Ashkenazi 1.0%, Norwegian 1.5%

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    Quote Originally Posted by mildlycurly View Post
    One of my closest matches on 23andme has the surname Levey. He's 100 percent Irish as far as I can tell.

    Cohan can also be an Irish surname.
    Thank you! I was wracking my brain yesterday trying to think of the other other surname that I know that is typically considered Jewish. The people in my area spell it Coen like the Coen brothers and I do have Coen relatives.
    Ancestry: Ireland (Paper trail ≅ 81.25% Roscommon, 12.5% Galway, 6.25% Mayo)
    Paternal ancestor (Y): Kelly b. c1830 in Co. Roscommon (Uí Maine)
    Father's mtDNA: Fleming b. c1831 in Co. Roscommon (H27e1)
    Maternal ancestor (mt): McDermott b. c1814 in Co. Roscommon
    Paternal great grandfather (mt): Connella b. c1798 in Co. Roscommon (T2a1a8)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jessie View Post
    Next door neighbours in Dublin were Levy.
    Yes my 2nd GGrandmother was a Bridget Leavy or Lavy (variant of Dunleavy?) and born in New York to Irish parents: Robert Lavy or Leavy etc... born 1820 in Ireland and Margaret Leavy born about 1820 in Ireland according to the 1870 US Census and the 1875 New York State Census! Bridget was bride to 2nd GGF Alexander J. Maguire from Ontario via Tralee in Kerry, Ireland (that is where my Maguire/McGuire matches come from as they were recent arrivals to Ontario from Southern Ireland - I have a ton of them!)... the census spellings were actually Leavy or Lavy... not Levy though that I know off... since my only European genetic communities via Ancestry DNA testing (and they were recent arrivals like most of my Irish family) they have to have come from Southern Ireland either Munster or Leinster as those are my two regions I get in genetic communities! Same with the Hayes and O'Hanrahans (married O'Dwyers) who came from around Limerick and Clare!

    In response to OP... so yes in my case Irish (and many cases I think!)... and as for the religion they were staunch Catholics ;-). The Maguires being descendants of Jacobites... they would not have married out of the Catholic religion (neither did the O'Dwyers for that matter - and I was raised Catholic etc, but I don't take it too seriously I'm more spiritual on my own terms etc) - I hear from my mother my Great Grandmother Maguire was very religious!

    Cheers,
    Charlie Cathal Dubh
    Last edited by Bollox79; 06-09-2019 at 01:37 AM.
    Y-DNA: 4th GGF Adam Weaver born 1785 in Pennsylvania (most likely German) - Sergeant, US 17th Inf, War of 1812: R1b-U106-Z381-Z156-Z305/306/307-Z304-DF98-S1911-S1894/S1900-S4004/FGC14818/FGC14823-FGC14816/FGC14817 shared with 6drif-3!

    mtDNA: 3rd GGM Bridget Dana b. 1843 Ireland - T2b2b - Pagan Migrant Icelander SSG-A3 (grave 4?) - Sílastaðir in Eyjafjarðarsýsla, North Iceland is T2b2b. Relative of King Bela III of Hungary (his Y-DNA and autosomal kinsman buried near him had mtDNA T2b2b1)!

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