Boyd As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 47,222 black Americans with Boyd as their last name. That represented 31% of the total of 153,469 entries.

This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Boyd.

We end with a review of early records of black military service in the United States.

After The Civil War

The 1870 census was the first survey after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1850 and 1860, only free African Americans were recorded in the census. The many enslaved were omitted.

From 1870 onward, all black Americans were included.

4,751 people named Boyd were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 737 as mixed.

There was a total of 28,469 people with the name.

Boyd In The 1900 And 1940 Census

The mixed category was dropped from the census in 1900, so we just need to look at the black numbers this time.

The 1900 census recorded 11,578 people with the last name Boyd as black within a total of 50,835 that year.

By the way, the mixed category returned in the 1910 and 1920 censuses. It was dropped again in 1930, but replaced with extra categories for colored and non-white in a way that seems confusing now.

This changed again in 1940 and we can simply focus on one black category.

The 1940 census recorded 17,991 people named Boyd as black within a total of 83,651.

Historic Black Figures With The Boyd Surname

Here are some notable African Americans in history with Boyd as their last name.

John Boyd

  • Born: About 1852
  • From: Tipton County, Tennessee
  • Died: 1932

John William Boyd was born into enslavement. After emancipation, John worked as a clerk in Mason while studying law.

After he was admitted to the Covington Bar association, he was elected to the county court in 1876. He served as a magistrate until 1906, which was very rare in the era of Jim Crow.

His brother Armistead was also elected as a magistrate in 1882 but served for a shorter duration (up to 1894).

John represented Tipton County in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1881 to 1884. He worked tirelessly, although somewhat fruitlessly, against Jim Crow laws that permitted discrimination in public facilities and work environments.

His bid for a senate seat failed in suspicious circumstances of missing ballot boxes.

Sarah Garland Boyd

  • Born: 1866
  • From: Albermarle County, Virginia
  • Died: 1905

Sarah Garland Boyd’s father was a successful African American building contractor in Richmond. When she graduated from high school in 1883, Sarah became a teacher.

She then studied medicine at Howard University and qualified as a doctor in 1893. She was the first woman to be certified by the Virginia State Medical Examiner Board.

She opened a practice in Richmond and ran free clinics for women and children. Her husband, Miles Jones, also qualified as a doctor and the couple founded a hospital in 1903 to better serve black patients.

Sarah had attended school with Maggie Lee Walker, the renowned black banker. Sarah’s father designed the business woman’s townhouse in downtown Richmond.

Other early doctors

Here are some other notable black doctors in the 19th and early 20th century:

Boyd In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Boyd surname from several different military services.

Buffalo Soldiers

Five regiments for black soldiers were formed during the Civil War. They were known as the Buffalo Soldiers.

Their records are part of the national archive of military monthly returns. The information includes the year and place of birth, where they enlisted, their occupation, and their height.

One of the earliest military entries for Boyd was in December 1867. Edward D Boyd was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in December 1867 at Fort Riley, Kansas.

One of the later entries was in November 1914. Butler Boyd was a Private in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry.

If you are researching military ancestors, there is a free index of these records on and

You have to create an account on either website, but you do not need to pay for the Buffalo Soldiers archive.

Black Civil War Sailors

The National Parks Service has a free archive of African American sailors during the Civil War.

The information includes their age, height, rank, occupation, and where and when they enlisted. It also includes every ship that they served on.

You can search the database on the National Parks website.

Solomon Boyd

One of the earliest entries for Boyd was for Solomon Boyd from Providence, Rhode Island. He enlisted in September 26 1862 at New London when he was aged 29.

The record shows that Solomon was assigned on April 1 1864 to the ship Nansemond.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Sailor/Laborer. His naval rank was Landsman.

“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.

Benjamin Boyd

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at New York in May 14 1863. Benjamin was aged 22 and was from Lewiston, Pennsylvania.

He was assigned to the ship Restless on December 31 1863.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Barber. His naval rank was Seaman.

A seaman in the Navy is a sailor who is not an officer.