Origins and Variations of the name “Lingo”

Tracking the origins of most surnames presents challenges. Part of the difficulty is in the differences in how pronunciations and spellings change. Often, people of a different background may be writing down information, such as marriage records or census forms, from verbal dictation of names. The spelling sometimes only makes sense when you read it back out aloud.

According to the book, Taliaferro-Toliver Family Records:

The Lingo family is of Italian origin, the name being originally spelled “Lingot” but the pronunciation of the letter “t” is silent. This family emigrated to Ireland, probably about 1600. The Irish emigrant, who came to America was John Richard Lingo, who settled at Lewiston, Delaware about 1750.

Taliaferro-Toliver Family Records

The problem with this conclusion is that there are few, if any, people currently living in Italy with the surname “Lingot.”[1] There are Italians with the surname “Longo.”

There is a thread of discussion on that presents several tantalizing views, although short on solid documentation. The initial post was by a Lynn Lingo:

I have info from a surname researcher in England that “Lingo” is probably of Norman descent (that would explain my parents telling me it’s “French”) and after the Norman invasion of England it was Anglicised (thus the surname lingo). England does have a coat of arms on record as well. I’m seeing info that there’s a Scottish connection- that Lingo is a sept[2] of Graham.

A response by Loll Schamma:

My Lingo family are French Huguenots and the name was originally d’Linqueaux, Americanized to the Lingo…

Another response by Carrie Renfroe:

Actually, each division of Lingos may be of a different nationality.For example, my family of Lingos are Polish. Our Lingo surname was shortened from the original Lingowski in the late 1800’s.A family member came from Galicia and changed his name from Jan Lingowski to John Lingo when he naturalized.

More Variation Considerations

Further research from

  • Lingo – “Most probably an altered form of Scottish Lingoch, a habitational name from the lands of Lingoch (now Lingo) in Carnbee, Fife.”
  • Lingow – The “w” was added on the grave markers of Archibald Lingo 1780-1859 and Martha Cleveland Lingo 1787-1876 – earlier records were “Lingo” although some children kept the “w”
  • Lingoe – Scottish Church Record – William Lingoe, son of Thomas Lingoe, 03/04/1699 in Riccarton, Kilmarnock, Scotland, UK. Searching for “Lingoe” gives a handful of results, a surprising number are connected to “Lingow”s
  • Lingold – concentrated in Georgia in the mid to late 1800s – unknown connection., although some instances appear to be people who used both “Lingo” and “Lingold”
  • Lingowski – possible variation of Linkowski?
  • Lings – very few actually with this name – many are transcription or handwriting errors
  • Linge – many are transcription or handwriting errors, a few people who used this name, origins not yet traced
  • Longo – an Italian variant of Lungo, not sure if or where or when this might have changed to “lingo”
  • Lynges – John David Lynges, immigrant from Poland, was recorded as “Lingo” in the 1880 Census – it seems that the family did not change the spelling from the Polish. 


In the end, there is not a clear trail of records to a single point of origin, although the Scottish Origin does have merit.. The lineage of Lingos in Scotland seems fairly sparse now.

Strong tendency to carry forward family names

While naming children after ancestors is very common among many cultures, it seems particularly common for Lingos to carry on family names, especially from maternal lines.

… Elijah Lingo 1774-1830 and Mary Hardin Taliaferro Lingo 1779-1860 named their daughter Beheathland Berryman Lingo Johnson 1797-1870 after her great aunt Behethland Taliaferro 1778–1842. … … Mary Hardin Taliaferro Lingo 1779-1860 had a great- love which she bore her family as evident by the names which she bestowed upon her children. The family Bible, Court Records, Land grants, etc., show that three of her (Lingo) sons bore the name of Taliaferro and two of them, Richard Taliaferro. [3]

Nellie Cadle (Watson) Sherman, Taliaferro-Toliver Family Records

It was safe to assume that Jeremiah Cleveland Lingo 1811– was the son of Archibald and Martha, as her father was Jeremiah Cleveland 1746–1806 and she had both siblings and children with the names Benajah, Jeremiah, Martha, and Mary, with other children Benjamin and Alexander also receiving family names. Both daughters Mary and Martha also received middle names Franklin and Archibald from relatives. That continued with Jeremiah having a son Alexander Archibald and grandson Archibald. Another grandson of Alexander Archibald follows this trend with the name Joseph Alex Lingo 1924-2005 – see more about him on the Religion and Missions post.

In the more immediate family, there is John Asbury, who probably received his middle name from his uncle Asbury Pinkston, with Solomon named after his maternal grandfather (who was named after his grandfather, Solomon Lasseter 1795-1839) and Josephine Antoinette getting her name from her maternal grandmother. There’s also Charles Allen, Jr, named after his father.


[1] See Italian Last Names, Cognomi Italiani – L, Italian surnames

[2] A sept is a division of a family, especially of a Scottish or Irish family. In the context of Scottish clans, septs are families that followed another family’s chief, or part of the extended family and that hold a different surname. These smaller septs would then be part of the chief’s larger clan. Wikipedia “Sept”

[3] Nellie Cadle (Watson) Sherman, Taliaferro-Toliver Family Records ([Peoria, Ill.], 1960),, p. 53