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About the study

William Leverich may have been the son of Abraham Leverich and Eleanor Wickley, baptized at Ecton, Northamptonshire in 1606.  William Leverich graduated from Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1626 and was ordained as a priest in the Church of England in 1627. His brief curacy of the parish of Great Bowden in Leicestershire ended when he was taken before a church court in 1629. He was then the rector of Great Livermere in Suffolk before emigrating to New England in 1633. He was the minister at Dover in New Hampshire before moving to Sandwich in the colony of New Plymouth in 1637. His sixteen years there included missionary work amongst the Amerindians. William moved to Oyster Bay on the boundary between the British and Dutch areas of Long Island in 1653 and then from 1658 at Huntington to the east and Newtown to the west. He visited Europe in 1660 and died in Newtown in 1677.  William and his family faced the challenges of life in a new continent and he met or knew some of the best known individuals in early American colonial history. He described his missionary work in a letter that was published in London in 1652 and some of his theological notes survive in the New York City archives.  <A Godly Minister, by Michael E. Leveridge in collaboration with Thomas V. Leverich; Cambridge, UK, 2008>.



Variant names

Variants for Leverich include Leveridge, Leverick, and Leverage.

Name origin

In 1046, King Edward the Confessor made his clerk Leofric the Bishop of Crediton in Devon.  Several years later Leofric wrote to Pope Leo IX to seek his approval for moving the bishop’s seat from Crediton to Exeter. This proposal was approved and Edward and his wife Edith installed Leofric as the first Bishop of Exeter in 1050. Leofric made several gifts to his new diocese, including some land in Bampton, Aston and Chimney in Oxfordshire. Though the surnames Leverage, Leverich and Leveridge are derived from the personal name Leofric, it is unlikely that those with these surnames today are descended from this particular Leofric, but 650 years after his death in 1072 there were Leveridges farming in Bampton. No Leveridges live there now, but part of Leofric’s Bampton estate was still owned by the Church Commissioners in 1990.

The name Leofric is derived from two Old English words - ‘leof’ meaning beloved or dear and ‘rice’ meaning mighty, realm or rich. The modern word ‘rich’ is derived from the Old English ‘rice’. Leofric is one of a group of Anglo-Saxon personal names that were formed from two words. Originally these compound names had a meaning, but later on relationship was indicated by giving a child a name beginning with one of the elements of his father’s name or by combining one element from his father’s name with one from his mother’s name. ‘Leof-‘ and ‘-ric’ therefore appear in other names such as Leofgeat ‘beloved-gate’, Leofgod ‘beloved-god’, Hereric ‘army-realm’ and Sigeric ‘victory-realm’. There are over a hundred references to individuals with the name Leofric in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it occurs in the Latin form Leuric or Levric. At first sight Leofric does not look like Leuric or Levric. However, in Old English the vowel combination ‘eo’ was pronounced as a single sound and in medieval Latin the letters ‘u’ and ‘v’ were not distinguished as vowel and consonant. ‘Leofric’ was probably therefore pronounced like ‘leafric’ or ‘leavric’.

Leofric or Levric was adopted as a surname when it was added to a personal name to refer to someone’s father or ancestor. Indeed it is the first example of such a patronymic given by P. H. Reaney in The origin of English surnames. The process had already begun when the Domesday Book was compiled. It contains several individuals called William [son of] Leofric, including one who held land in Gloucestershire. Just over a century later Geoffrey son of Leofric made a grant of half an acre of land in Thurlby in Lincolnshire to St cording the grant bears his seal. The development of the surname in this way means that the various Leverages, Leveriches and Leveridges alive today are unlikely to be descended from one particular Leofric.  Leofric gradually fell out of use as a personal name when French names such as Robert and William replaced Old English ones after the Norman Conquest. Alfred, Edmund and Edward are amongst the few survivors. Surnames became well-established in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The commonest early forms of the Leverich surname were Leverage and Leverich.  Leveridge began to be used at the end of the sixteenth century.  <A Godly Minister, by Michael E. Leveridge in collaboration with Thomas V. Leverich; Cambridge, UK, 2008>.

Name frequency

Rev. William Leverich was the original immigrant ancestor of most individuals in the U.S. carrying the Leverich/Leverick surname, and a few carrying the Leveridge surname.    There is a smaller group of individuals carrying the surname Leveridge, most in the southwestern part of the U.S., who are likely to be the descendants of a John Leveridge who settled in Virginia c 1644.    There is another smaller group of individuals carrying the surname Leverage who are the descendants of Benjamin Leverage who emigrated from England settling in Delaware and Maryland in the late 1700's.    About 550 individuals with the surname Leverich/Leverick are recorded in the 1940 U.S. Census.  

The surname survives in England, with at least two known family groups who returned to England from the U.S. in the 19th and 20th centuries.   About 80 individuals with the surname Leverich/Leverick, and 290 individuals with the surname Leveridge are recorded in the 1911 Census of England.    It remains a possibility that descendants of siblings of Rev. William Leverich are living today in England, but they have not been identified.