Friday, 4 November 2011

Leveson

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/86/Thomas_Lawrence%2C_Portrait_of_Lord_Granville_Leveson-Gower%2C_later_1st_Earl_Granville_%28c._1804%E2%80%931809%29.jpg

The following name was taken from The Gentleman's Magazine 1815-1816. Two more names from yesterday's list will also be profiled later on this week.
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The Leveson name is often connected with the powerful Leveson-Gower family, holders of the title of Duke of Sutherland. Evidence of their aristocratic influence can be seen by the use of their family names by outsiders. In 1891, a Levison Granville Dudley was born in Peterborough, East Anglia. The name Granville had been passed down through generations of the powerful family, but this particular Levison Granville has no known links to the Dukes of Sutherland.
 
Additionally, Leveson was given to 108 boys in England as a first name between the years of 1846 and 1953. The alternative spelling of Levison was more popular with 121 recipients spanning the years of 1838 and 1953.

The name's origins take us back to the 7th century. It is believed Leveson derives from Leofsunu, meaning 'beloved son'. Levison, however, is said to be a Jewish surname. It's meaning far simpler: son of Levi. 

An aspect of the name that must be taken into consideration is its pronunciation. Originally, Leveson-Gower was pronounced as Looson Gore. The British aristocracy had a liking for doing this. The Cowper family's surname was pronounced Cooper, Saint James' was Sinjun

Although I tend to faithfully follow set pronunciations, and would advise against changing how a name is said, I would ignore it in this case. No one outside eighteenth-century history geeks would ever think that Leveson was pronounced as Looson. I'm sure this was just another way for aristocrats to reinforce their position. It may have been a sort of shibboleth, a way to identify those from within their elite class and those from the lower classes and not in the know.

Image: Portrait of Lord Granville Leveson-Gower by Sir Thomas Lawrence