October seeds Fredonia NY (c) 2013 barefoot photos
October seeds
Fredonia NY
(c) 2013 barefoot photos

The name LEVY, which can also be spelled Levi, (and in our family, some members spell it Levee) is a Jewish surname with Hebraic origin. The Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names informs us that it means joined, united, coupled; or Jacob’s third son. Ancestry.com says that folks with this name are Levites, members of the tribe of Levi (see earlier statement about Jacob). This is a hereditary caste that assists the kohanim (Cohens) “in their priestly duties.”

Digging deeper, the Internet Surname Database offers two more, earlier originations of the name, saying it derived “from the Olde English pre 7th century baptismal or given name “Lefwi”, composed of the elements “leof”, dear, beloved, the “wig”- war.” The second, and in my mind, more plausible is “that this surname is a French locational name from the village of Levy in Seine-et-Oise, so called from the Gallo-Roman personal name “Laevius”, from the Latin “laevus”, meaning ‘left’. ” House of Names.com says that the family first appeared in France in the Ile de France in the 12th century.

The Levys were Ashkenazi Jews from the Wandsbek community in Hamburg, Germany. Many of the Ashkenazi who settled Hamburg were originally Danish citizens, which also jives with deeper dna ancestry results. Thanks to cousins on 23andME, we now know that the Y DNA for this line is E1b1b1c. This line, last I read, accounted for nearly 20% of the Ashkenazi lineage.

The story of our immigrant ancestor Siegmund Nathan Levy is one of the more fascinating we’ve uncovered in this research! Click on his name to dive in. Siegmund, aka Samuel, was born to Moses Nathan Levy, a merchant in Hamburg, Germany. Click on his name to learn more.

KUDOS to our cousin researchers without whom, this information would not have come together. It’s been a genealogical joy working with them! Scott Hicks, Suzanne Levy Lescht, Ellen Levy Raper, Laura Riebman, and Paul Bern.


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