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About the study

About the study

I first took an interest in the origin of the name in 1980 searching out its Old English meaning and origins in East Anglia, England. The Livermore One-Name study formally started in 2017. I traced the origin of the name to the villages of Great and Little Livermere near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. I also listed the locations in the USA named Livermore. In 2003 I started to build the family tree back through Hertfordshire to Essex around Saffron Walden. This family tree tentatively went back to John Livermore 1559 at Little Chesterford, Essex. There were sufficient references to Livermore to keep the interest ­ including having its own element 116 Livermorium.

Variant names

The name changed from the Anglo-Saxon place name Livermere and the Norman form of de Livermere to Livermore during the medieval period. There are nine examples of variants. There is Levermore in the south-west England c1550 but later Levermores may be derived from south-east English Livermores and 391 are present in England, Jamaica, and USA. The other name variants seem to be of a US origin. Those listed on Forbears are Livermor (38, from US but now in Russia), Livermoore (14), Livermoer (4), Livermoor (2), Livermere (1), Lavermore (1), Livermre (1), and Livremore (1 in Australia).

Name Origin

The name Livermore is locative, from the Anglo-Saxon laefer-mere. The "lake with flag iris" is now the preferred explanation in Suffolk place names. ‘Lever(s) is still a current southern English word for a flag iris. The origin is Great and Little Livermere, six miles north-east of Bury St Edmunds. There are however two other medieval Livermere references. One is in Cambridgeshire near Wisbech. A second is back in Suffolk near Eriswell and Lakenheath. These apparently do not survive. A lake with flag iris will be common in East Anglia and it exists in its modern Englash name of Flag Fen, Cambridgeshire with its Bronze Age settlement.

History of the Name

Initially the bearers of the de Livermere and Livermore name would have been of Norman origin, probably from Rouen. The early Livermores in post-Norman Conquest and medieval times were in Suffolk and Norfolk. By the time of the parish records of around 1600 the name had migrated into North Essex and into Cambridgeshire. The name then spread south into London, Surrey and Hertfordshire but was relatively rare elsewhere in the UK. The name arrived in the USA in 1634 with John Livermore of Essex on the “Francis” as part of the Great Migration. He settled in Watertown, Massachusetts in the settlement of New England.  Many US Livermores trace themselves back to him.  Much later Robert Livermore arrived and settled on the West Coast in about 1821 where his name was given to the Californian town and valley.  There is a concentration of Livermores in Jamaica associated with an estate of the name near Kingston.

Name frequency

In 1881 there were 1,000 Livermores recorded in England. This gives an approximate frequency of 1 in 25,825, or 0.0039%.

According to the ONS in 2002 there were 1773 Livermore in England and Wales and ranked 4,098. There were also 139 Levermores.

There are currently approximately 7,000 Livermores worldwide.

Notable Livermores

  • Walter de Livermere 1060– perhaps the earliest Livermore recorded (1086)

  • John Livermore 1634 Wethersfield, Essex, UK early US settler, New England

  • Robert Livermore 1820 Springfield, Essex, UK early settler of West Coast US

  • Samuel Livermore 1786 US legal authority

  • Samuel Livermore 1732 US President pro tempore

  • Mary Ashton Rice Livermore 1820– US journalist, abolitionist, and women’s rights

  • Jessie Lauriston Livermore 1877 US trader and market theorist, ‘The Great Bear of Wall Street’

  • Caroline Livermore 1883 California conservationist

  • Spencer Livermore 1975 Baron Livermore, UK Labour politician

  • Jason Livermore 1988 Jamaican sprint athlete, relay, team mate of Usain Bolt


I have not done any general DNA research on Livermore. For DNA though I give my own (both sexes) as the male line seems to follows the movement of Livermores, and the female is compatible southern English.  I was born Leicester 1952 to father from Hertfordshire where the Livermores go back to 1812. Before that they were in north-west Essex at Little and Great Chesterford, and Saffron Walden. The earliest in the line identified is my 11th great-grandfather John Livermore born 1559 Little (Parva) Chesterford near the border with the home county of the Livermores -Suffolk. Ancestry DNA 2016:

  1. Scandinavia 39% (Sweden, Norway, Denmark)

  2. Western Europe 32% (Germany, Austria, Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Czech, North Italy)

  3. Great Britain 14% (England, Wales, Scotland)

  4. Iberian Peninsula 8% (Spain, Portugal, islands Corsica and Sardinia)

Low Confidence: Ireland 5% (Ireland, Wales and Scotland) , Italy/ Greece 1%, European Jewish 1%