Larcom Family History

Our surname’s origin comes from the Alpine region of Italy, near the border of France. A small village there called La Combe [Combe meaning the uppermost part of the valley] is situated in the Valley of Lucerne [Valley of Light], at the foot of Mt. Vandelin. From this originated the name Des Las Combes. Cities nearby are Rorá, Torre Pellice, and Malpertus.

The portion of the map to the right (showing La Combe by the star) is from “The Protestant Valleys of Piedmont” drawn and engraved by T.Starling and was published in The Waldenses, or Protestant Valleys of Piedmont & Dauphiny, 1836. View La Combe, Piedmont, Italy in a larger map

This area was home to the Waldenses [Vaudois or Valdesi] who had existed since the time of the apostles, and were believed to have possessed the first translation of the New Testament in the twelfth century. During some of the persecutions of the Waldensesian people by the Catholic Church in the 1480’s, these people passed over the Alps into France and became identified with the Huguenots of Languedoc.

Click here to read chapter 14 from “The History of the Waldenses” – “Exploits of Gianavello–Massacre and Pillage of Rora-Ascent of La Combe…” by J.A. Wylie.

The Huguenots of Languedoc

The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. French Protestants were inspired by the writings of John Calvin in the 1530’s, and were called Huguenots by the 1560’s. By the end of the 17th century and into the 18th century, roughly 500,000 Huguenots had fled France during a series of religious persecutions. They relocated to Protestant nations, such as England, Wales, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, the Dutch Republic, the Electorate of Brandenburg, Electorate of the Palatinate (both in the Holy Roman Empire), the Duchy of Prussia, and also to Cape Colony in South Africa and several of the English colonies of North America which were willing to accept them.

WhippinghamChurch“One family at least settled in the town of Whippingham, Isle of Wight, and from this is descended the Sir Thomas Larcom who became Under Secretary of Ireland and was made a Baronet. ‘Thence after some years passed over to Bristol, England and then one of the brothers of the family sailed to America.’ Unfortunately, the records of the church at Whippingham have been burned, and so all the data about the earlier Larcoms have perished. The traditions of the Isle of Wight Larcoms and the Connecticut branch of the Americans agree in this story of the origin of the family.” – G. A. Lewis of Philadelphia, who for many years and at considerable expense made researches concerning the history of the Larcom family.

Records show that a Larcom left France for the Isle of Wight in 1600, and that a William Latcome sailed to America on the ship Hercules departing from London on March 24, 1633/34 and Southampton on April 18, 1634, for New England. From here, Ipswich records give a Mordecai Larcom who appeared in Ipswich, Mass., in 1640. Mordecai could have been a brother or son of William Latcome. “And then he was but a simple yeoman, a tiller of the soil; one who must have loved the sea, however, for he moved nearer and nearer towards it from Agawam through Wenham woods, until the close of the seventeenth century found his descendents – my own great-great-grandfather’s family – planted in a romantic homestead-nook on a hillside, overlooking wide gray spaces of the bay at the part of Beverly known as ‘The Farms.’” – Lucy Larcom, A New England Girlhood.   LarcomShieldBW


“De Las Combes of the Waldenses of Piedmont, Italy now Larcom – and Larkham and Larcombe of The United States of America.” “There is a family shield in existence, showing a hill surmounted by a tree, and a bird with spread wings above. It might symbolize flight in times of persecution, from the mountains to the forests, and thence to heaven, or to the free skies of this New World.” – Lucy Larcom, A New England Girlhood, 1889 (The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., USA), 19.

This shield was drawn by Gilbert Philips, dated March 7, 1902. It is part of a letter sent to William F. Abbot who wrote Genealogy of the Larcom Family published in the early 1900’s. This letter describes in great detail the Larcom Family Shield, what it means, and why we have it. I am so honored to have this letter. A copy was e-mailed to me by a great friend and distant cousin, Qunicy S. Abbot.

Excerpts from the letter:

“The Larcom – Larkham & Larcombe Shield – was no doubt adopted by the family in France – where it appears during the wars of the Huguenots; although it may have been the Huguenot symbol of the protestant families of the name in Piedmont. The eagle is the Piedmont arms combined with the tree upon the mountain top. It symbolizes – ‘You can burn the body, but not the soul.’ The burnt and blackened tree the symbol of their mountain home, with the eagle rising above it green full of life – the soul.”

“The arms of the English Baronets Larcom were founded on these old Huguenot emblems although differenced by the Ulster king of arms in Ireland where the grant was made to Sir: Thomas Askiew Larcom – then Under Secretary for Ireland –Dublin in 1858 – so they are modern! Their shield is also argent – but the eagle is red – while the hawthorn tree on the mount is green – symbolizing their origin in Piedmont (Red eagle of Piedmont) and green hawthorne bush or tree on a mount – as their later origin in Isle of Wight, England – also – The herald gave him for crest – a cap of maintenance blue – to show his loyalty to the crown of Great Britain– on which appears a Martlet – the symbol of the Huguenot flight with a golden fleur de lis in his mouth – to symbolize France as the origin of the Larcom family – fleeing from France.”

“The old shield of the Huguenot family of Languedoc, France is of course more ancient and the Larcoms in America have no right whatever to use the arms of the English Larcoms, as they were a modern grant for that special branch of the family – the brother of the old family that came to America (Mordochée) carried the traditions of the old Languedoc French shield with him here – and the family of Larcom – Larkham & Larcombe in America have the right to it alone.”