Lavington – What’s in a name?

We have some ideas about the origins of the word Lavington as applied to both Market and West Lavington in Wiltshire. It may have been the ‘tun’ or farmstead owned by a chap called Laffa and, over a long period, Laffa’s tun has become Lavington. There are other possibilities for the naming of our parishes is truly lost in the sands of time.

Another Lavington, now a part of Albury in New South Wales, Australia, was named only 100 years ago but the reason for that name is also, it seems, a bit lost. The area had been called Black Range but it seemed there were too many Black Ranges in the area and a new name was sought. Eventually, Lavington was chosen. For various, obvious reasons, we at Market Lavington in Wiltshire have felt a sense of friendship with our antipodean namesake where a book has recently been published about the town and its naming. A copy of the book has been given to Market Lavington.

What's in a Name is a book about Lavington, New South Wales

What’s in a Name is a book about Lavington, New South Wales

In many ways this is a delightful, photographic record of the history of Lavington, New South Wales.

It has been inscribed as a gift to Market Lavington.

The book is a gift to the people of Market Lavington, Wiltshire

The book is a gift to the people of Market Lavington, Wiltshire

One theory about the reason for naming this Lavington after our parish stems from Joseph Box who emigrated from Market Lavington to New South Wales in 1852 and named his house Lavington. But let’s let the book tell the tale.

Lavington

After the saga of renaming the town, the source of the name Lavington became lost. There has been much supposition through the years, and some great detective work to try and track down the origins.

The name appears attached to a number of historical documents. During the gold rush, there was a Lavington Gold Mining Company (gazetted in 1865) and a Lavington Hotel (opened in 1865 by Messrs Jennings and Davis). Also in 1865, a crushing mill was brought to the goldfields and was christened by the mayoress, Mrs Blackmore, before a 300·strong crowd. She broke a bottle of champagne over it and called it ‘The Lavington’. Some sources say, intriguingly, that this was after the mill’s inventor. In 1952 a booklet published as part of the Lavington Water Celebrations implied that the name was taken because of these long associations with the gold diggings. But how did that association come about? Perhaps the origin is in the name of one of the shareholders in the Lavington Gold Mining Company: John Lavington Evans.

However, Lavington was also the name of one of the early properties in the district. By the early 1880s, Joseph Box had purchased land portions 253, 255 and 256 of the newly subdivided land around Black Range, along what is now Centaur Road. His family had come out from Market Lavington in Wiltshire, England, in 1852 and he named his property after their hometown. There is also, to muddy the waters, some evidence that the name Lavington had been previously used in the 1870s by other landholders in the area.

Whichever theory one accepts for the origin of the name, its history appears to go right back to the early days of white settlement in the district. In the 1960s, a movement to change the name back to Black Range met with acrimonious resistance, while in 1993 the Council floated the idea of changing it to Hamilton. It has however stayed, fittingly, as Lavington.

The book is housed at Market Lavington Museum so that all people have an opportunity to see it.

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