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The Scottish Nation
Boyce, Boys or Bois


BOYCE, BOYS, or BOIS, a surname of French origin. It was originally De Bois or Du bois, written latterly as one, thus Dubois, the name of the well-known French cardinal. It was early translated in England into its Saxon synonym of Wood, or a Wood, as Anthony a Wood, the historian of Oxford. But it Scotland where the early French prevailed, long after it ceased to be the vehicle of speech in England, it retains nearly its original form. The families of Boys in England, of whom was Alderman Boys, the patron of the fine arts and illustrator of Shakspere, is of Scotch extraction. It was frequently written in the Latin of the middle ages as De Bosco, which was at the same time its form in the Italian and Romanesque languages, both words implying precisely the same thing. In the thirteenth century Sir Andrew de Bosco married the third daughter of Sir John Bisset of Lovat, and with her, as there was no male heir, he got the third part of that estate. [See ante.] In 1303, when Edward completed his conquest of Scotland, the castle of Urquhart in Ross-shire was, by his forces, after an obstinate siege, taken by storm, and Alexander de Bois, the governor, and every person in it, except his wife, who was then pregnant, were put to death. The child thus saved by the pious scruples of the English proved a boy, and is said to have been the founder of the house of Forbes. The reason assigned for this by Boece is sufficiently ridiculous as well as improbable, but in the earliest forms of the word, Forbas, Borbos, Borbois, there are unmistakable confirmations of the tradition of the family descent, which being then recent, and affecting his immediate kinsmen, we cannot suppose Boece, mendacious as he was in earlier story, to have been bold enough to invent in toto. [See FORBES, surname of.] In the ‘Historical and Crital Remarks on the Ragman Roll,’ it is stated that de Boys was a surname peculiar to a family in Angus, designed of Panbride, of which the learned Hector Boethius, Boece, or Boyce, was a son. See BOECE, HECTOR.


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