The word Boyum is actually a farm name and is therefore toponymic – derived from a place near which the recipient lived.  A Norwegian source told me that the Balestrand bygdebok (Laberg) defined the name Boyum as ‘bær’ (Old Norse), plural of ‘gard’. It would, therefore, mean a cluster of gards (farms). However, others have said that ‘boy’ means bend and signifies the bend in the Fjord that runs up to Boyum.  My Aunt Jane tells me she always heard that it meant ‘bend two’.

Historically, Norwegian names were constructed by combining the name of the child, the name of the father and the current address as part of the name.  The basic naming pattern was:

  • A given name based on relatives (grandparents, aunts, uncles or the commemorative use of the name of a sibling that had passed away)
  • A middle name based on the name of the father and a gender specification
  • A surname of the farm or address of where you resided.

Hence, a boy named Sevath who was the son of Ellend and lived at Boyum was called Sevath Ellendson Boyum.  A daughter named Brita would be Brita Ellendsdatter Boyum.  
This means that what appear to be the common surname does not imply relation at all and, further, that what appears to be several different people can be the same person who moved several times.

Because of the common use of patronymic names (names with ‘son’ as part of the surname – i.e. Johnson, Thorson, Erikson) when people migrated to the United States, many families decided to officially take on their toponymic/address name as a final last name and so it is with all those named Boyum.

According to the US census of 1990, Boyum is very rare indeed.  It is ranked 27949 in the US with only 18.943%

of the population having less frequently used names. Johnson, on the other hand, which many of the Norwegian’s became and many exist in our line, is second only to Smith in commonality.  If Sevath and his brothers would have remained Ellingson, we would all be ranked 6084.

According to the graph included below from the GENS project, there is less than 2000 families with the surname Boyum in the US.  Despite the fact that Dr. Melvin Johnson learned that the name was a “dime-a-dozen” in Norway, I suspect his sources were speaking of it in terms of their region much the way the name is far more common in Minnesota than anywhere else in the US. And by the way, it is common is a fairly small area of Minnesota too. One source from Norway told me that there were only 329 Boyum’s in Norway.

Boyum Name Distribution in the United States

Boyum Name Distribution in the United States


Boyum Name — 2 Comments

  1. The name Bøyum was written Bøum in 1567, in 1667 Bøyum, in 1723 Bøyom and in 1898 Bøium. Today it is Bøyum in Norway, but the American part of the families is called Boyum.

    The Bøyum area was the king’s ground already around year 1600. It was already parted into 3 Bøyum farms (farm 1, 2 and 4). Just before year 1800 the farms was dived into 7 farms.

    People from the different farms are not necessarily related, but it is likely that there were marriages between farms. There were also several smallholdings owned by the farms. Many of these families took the Bøyum name when they immigrated to the United States.

  2. My mother was the daughter of Thea Boyum, and Peter Agrimson; granddaughter of O. B. & Helena
    Thea was the daughter of Ole and Helena Boyum–Ole Boyum, born on the Tiegen farm in Fjareland..when he was a year old they moved to the Boyum farm and changed their name to Boyum. Helena was born in the US. to Gjori Gjerde Larson…That whole Boyum farm last name drives me insane while trying to learn who Gjori was married to, since she was widowed…the closest I can come is her last name could have been Paulsdatter when she was a chlld…Paulson? do not know. It is all too confusing…so I believe I am related to all Boyums whether I am or not….

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