Livingston Surname Genealogy

The origins
of the Livingston surname
in Scotland are from
the place-name Livingston in West Lothian, first founded by a man named
in the 12th century.
Early Livingston spellings were various. Livingston
and Livingstone
are the main variants today.
Livingston prevails in America. But
Livingstone outnumbers Livingston in
Scotland and elsewhere.

Livingston Resources on

Livingston Ancestry

Scotland. Livingstons in
Scotland divide into Lowland and Highland Livingstons. Both Lowland and
Highland Livingstons have believed that there was some linkage between
the two
groups. But none has really been

Lowland. The line from Leving at Livingston in West Lothian

  • to Alexander Livingston, the first around
    1250 to take the name of Livingston
  • to his
    grandson William Livingston, the first of the Livingstons of Livingston
  • and to Sir Bartholomew Livingston, the last
    of these Livingstons, who died at the
    Battle of Flodden Field in 1513.

However, another line
had sprung from
Sir William Livingston who had accompanied King
David II on his expedition to England in 1346.
Afterwards he acquired the barony of Callendar in Stirlingshire
heiress he had married.

Sir James Livingston of Callendar was created Lord
Livingston in 1458. His descendant
was a guardian to the young Mary Queen of Scots a century later and his
Mary was one of the four Marys in her retinue.
A later Alexander Livingston became the Earl of Linlithgow in
1600, a
title that was then forfeited when his descendant James Livingston came
out on
the Jacobite side in the Rising of 1715. This
Livingston dynasty ended
conclusively with the second Jacobite
defeat in
1746. The family story was told in Edwin
Livingston’s 1920 book The
Livingstons of Callendar

Subsidiary branches of the line
were those at Kilsyth, Dunipace and Westquarter. One line led to
the Rev. John Livingston at Jedbergh on the Scottish Borders and to his
son Robert who founded the Livingston family in New York.

Highland. These Livingstons
originated from the Isle of
Lismore and the districts of Lorn and Appin in Argyllshire on the
Scottish west
coast. Their original Gaelic name was
MacLeay from Mac an Leigh, meaning
“son of the physician.”

In 1641 James Livingston of Stirling, Baron of Biel, was
granted a lease of the lands and the rights of the bishopric of Argyll
and the
Isles. In this capacity he resided for a
while at Achandu castle at Lismore. It was probably then that the
adopted the name of Livingston.

They became the hereditary keepers of the
crozier of the Bishops of Lismore (from St. Moluag who had died in 592)
and granted
the title of the Baron of Bachuil.
But they
were never a clan of much wealth or power, being
always dependent on more prosperous neighbors to lease or croft them
land to farm
or graze their cattle.

Of descendants, Donald Livingstone was one of a
contingent of Livingstones guarding Charles Stewart, the Laird of
Ardsheal, at
the Battle of Culloden in 1746. He rescued the white banner of the
from the battlefield and successfully returned it to Appin. More noteworthy later was Dr. David Livingstone, the
African explorer. There were many who emigrated.

The Livingstons in Ireland were a Scottish implant.
One family arrived in county Down from
Ayrshire as early as 1607 as part of the Ulster plantation. Others came from Stirlingshire.
The Rev. Henry Livingston was the
long-serving minister of the Ballynahinch Presbyterian church.

“This Henry Livingston was
first stated minister of Ballynahinch after the year 1641. He supplied
congregations of Drumbo, Ballynahinch and Drumcaw. To this most
laborious office
he was ordained in the year 1655; and he discharged its duties for the
space of
forty two years with great diligence and fidelity.”

William Livingston was a Lisburn merchant in the
late 1600’s and a ruling elder at Ballynahinch

The Livingstons were one of
the prominent families of early America.

New York. Robert
Livingston from Scotland, exiled to Holland for religious
reasons, set sail for New York in 1674 and – with his Dutch connections
– soon
established his presence in its business and political circles.

He was to be the forebear of the
Livingston family
that would remain
pre-eminent in New York through the colonial era and beyond. His line ran:

  • through his elder son Philip
    Livingston who inherited the family estate of Livingston Manor in
    county. His descendants included a
    signer of the Declaration of Independence, a Governor of New Jersey,
    and a US
    Supreme Court Justice.
  • through his younger son Robert Livingston who made his home at Clermont in
    nearby Columbia county. His descendants
    the US Minister to
    France who negotiated the Louisiana Purchase and his son a Louisiana
  • and though his nephew Robert
    Livingston the Younger who arrived in America in 1687 and later was the
    of Albany. His son John was a Montreal

There were of course other Livingstons in

John Livingston came to the
Poropotank Creek area in Virginia from Scotland in 1651.
Later Livingstones – brothers William, John
and George – were plantation owners in King and Queen county in the
1750’s. Lucille Coone’s 1990 book The Livingstons of Virginia covered this
line. There was another Virginia line of Livingstons from
Botetourt county that migrated to Alabama in the early 1800’s

Andrew Livingston was Scots Irish
from county Down. He arrived in
Pennsylvania sometime in the 1750’s. His
son George settled in Fayette county and later Livingstons moved to Ohio.
Adam Aaron Livingston was also Scots Irish.
He came to Virginia in the 1760’s and was the forebear of the
Livingstons of Greene county, Georgia.
There are four different Livingston Bibles recording the 19th
descendants of this family

Canada. Many of the Livingstons coming to Canada were
Highland Livingstons from Argyllshire.
Daniel Livingston arrived in Nova Scotia with the British army
in 1757
and stayed. He was later to be found in
Leeds county, Ontario where he was killed by a falling tree in 1793.

There were Livingstones in Canada who had or claimed a
kinship with the explorer David Livingstone:

  • Angus Livingston was a pioneer
    settler in Cape Breton, at Big Bras D’Or on Boularderie island, in the
    1800’s. He was a boat-builder
    there. Eleven Livingstones – great
    grandsons of Angus – fought in World War One and have been commemorated
    in the
    local Presbyterian church. Their numbers
    included “Wild Bill” Livingston who was awarded the Military Cross
  • but the definite connection has been with David’s
    older brother John who came to Lanark township, Ontario from Blantyre
    in the
    1840’s. He later moved to Listowel in
    Perth county where he died in 1899

James Livingston grew up in East Kilbride
near Blantyre in Lanarkshire, the son of a weaver.
He departed for Waterloo county, Ontario in
1856. There he prospered in the flax
industry. His former home in Wilmot
township, Castle
Kilbride, has been designated a Canadian National Historic Site.

Australia and New Zealand. A number of Livingstons had worked in the slate
quarries of Balachuilish in western Argyllshire in the early/mid 1800’s. James Ban Livingston from Glencoe set off for
Australia with his wife Isabelle on the
Marco Polo
in 1852. Charles
Livingston emigrated to New Zealand with his wife Dorothy in 1860. They settled in Forest Hill, Southland

Livingston Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Livingston Names

Alexander Livingston was the first of his line
to assume the name of Livingston around the year 1250.
Sir James Livingston
of Callendar was appointed Great Chamberlain
of Scotland in 1453.

Robert Livingston
from the Scottish Borders came to America in 1674 and was
the forebear of
a powerful New York family.
David Livingstone
was a Scottish
missionary and explorer in Africa and one of the most popular British
heroes of
the late 19th century.
Ken Livingstone
has been a prominent left-wing
London leader, serving as its mayor from
2000 to 2008

Livingstons Today

  • 10,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lanarkshire)
  • 17,000 in America (most numerous in Florida)
  • 11,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



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