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This website presents the provisional results of our genealogical research on the surname Boucneau in Belgium, France, the United Kingdom and the United States. Because of the diversity of countries involved, three languages are used in this publication: Dutch, French and English. (Read more about the distribution of the name Boucneau. )

verspreiding familienaam Boucneau 2015 In the past, our name has been written in different ways: Bouckenau, Bouckeneau, Bouckneau, Boucniau, Bougneau, etc. In the second half of the 19th century, the modern spelling Boucneau replaced the alternative orthographies.

Boucneau is a French name, the pronunciation of which rhymes with the English words 'book' and 'no'. That's how the name is pronounced in Belgium and France today. A deviant pronunciation - 'booknove' or 'booknoge' - still exists in the province of West Flanders (Belgium), in the countryside, restricted to the elder generations. In the United States, it is pronounced as 'buckno'.
Still, there could be another explanation. In southern France (in the department of Charente-Maritime), near Bordeaux, there is a town called Bougneau. Could it be that the Boucneaus came from that region?

Boucneau means young male goat. The first element - 'bouc' - is (still) the French word for a male goat. The second element, '-neau', is a diminutive element, meaning small or little, which was very productive in Old French.

All the results of our research point in the direction of the county of Hainaut as the place where our ancestors lived. This county - ruled by the counts of Hainaut - was the core of the present day Belgian province which bears the same name. The southern part of the county became French territory before 1700.

From Nimy, a village close to the city of Mons, ancient capital of the county and presently the capital of the province, Estienne (Stephanus) Boucneau moved to the county of Flanders in the second half of the 17th century. He is the ancestor of all Dutch speaking Boucneaus in Flanders (Belgium).

Other Boucneaus - farmers and stonecutters - lived in the small county of Beaumont, in the southeast of the county of Hainaut. In the first half of the 19th century, some of them - stonecutters - living in and around the village of Rance (province of Hainaut, Belgium), went to Paris. They even went to London in the middle of the 19th century. There are still living direct descendants of Adolpe Boucneau: Jim Trewin and his family!

At the end of the 19th century, Kate 'Boucneau' and her son Ernest, widow of Adolphe J.H. Boucneau, marble-manor and born in London (and a son of Adolphe Boucneau who came from Rance in Belgium), emigrated to the United States. There are still living direct descendants of Ernest Boucneau: Boucneau Bob and his family. Another 'English' Boucneau, Christina, migrated to New Zealand, Wellington and died there in 1950.

Overall, we therefore have two parallel stories on this website: that of the 'Flemish' Boucneaus with the patriarch Stephanus Boucneau on the one hand and that of the 'Walloon' Boucneaus, mainly from Rance and their descendants on the other hand. (You can see the full pedigrees here). Here and there there are some loose ends that we may never be able to clarify, as those Boucneaus in Ostend about 1700 or the one Carla Boucneau in Germany...


More information:
- 'Een familienaam is je gegeven', website of Marcel Vervloet
- About onomastics on the website Familiegeschiedenis.be

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De verspreiding van de familienaam Boucneau

Hoe kwam Stephanus in Avekapelle terecht?

Nog Boucneau's uit Mons?

De contacten tussen Rance en Londen!

De Amerikaanse volkstelling van juni 1900

Wie was Carla Boucneau?