The Livingstons are said to have derived from Leving - a Hungarian who came to Scotland as part of the Royal Court of Margaret when she married Malcolm III in 1057. Leving appears to have a connection with the Gavere family of Flanders; the coats of arms of the Livingstons and Gaveres are very similar.
The son of Leving, Thurston, had sons Alexander and William. It is likely that a King after Malcolm III bequeathed them land; probably David I, when he introduced the feudal system to Scotland. The names of Leving and Thurston both appear on the church charter of Livingston. The Livingstons were to attain their lands in Drumry and Midlothian and Callander.
William F. Hendrie's The history of Livingston notes that the Livingstons had a association with the Knights of St. John, or Knights Hospitaller who had their headquarters nearby in Torpichen. He writes "Each year the farmers at Knightsridge who tilled these fields had to make the journey north to Torpichen to pay their rents to the Knights at the old Preceptory."
The Knights Hospitaller in Scotland incorporated the Knights Templar around 1312, some years after the Knights Templar were infamously disbanded by Papal Decree; as Scotland at the time was under excommunication from the church. It seems likely that before this date that the Livingstons were connected with the Templar knights:- W.F. Hendrie describes a local Livingston well with healing properties known as Ladywell, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Such a dedication is commonly connected with the Knights Templar; the Livingstons of Drumry had close associations with the Knights Templar, the soldier-priests being assigned to the Livingston's Church of the Virgin Mary in Drumry; it also seems likely that the family branch in Callander were similarly associated, Evelyn Lord's The Knights templar in Britain notes Callander Saltworks as one of the main Templar properties in Scotland.
Andrew Livingston was a sheriff of Lanark in 1296, mentioned in the Ragman Roll of that year. The sherrifdom of Lanark seems to pass to the Englishman Heselrig who was slain by William Wallace the following year, possibly as part of Edward Longshanks policy of English control of Scotland. This may have been due to Andrew Livingston's failure to return the compliance of Matthew and William Wallace of Elderslie to the English king. An alternative theory suggests a confusion between Drumry and Lanark, and that Andrew was Sheriff of Drumry and not Lanark.
His brother was Archibald, the sheriff of Linlithgow in 1301. The Livingstons became supporters of Edward Longshanks during the Wars of Independence. W.F. Hendrie details "Sir Archibald is recorded as garrisoning his own Peel at Livingston again for the English side, with a force of four squires, ten men-at-arms and twenty archers." sometime in 1312.
The Livingstons rose to prominence in the reign of King James II. Sir Alexander Livingston became a Justiciar and Lord High Treasurer and advisor to the young king. In the spirit of nepotism, Sir James Livingston became chamberlain; Robert Livingston was comptroller; John Livingston was master of the mint; and the captains of the castles of Stirling, Dumbarton, Doune and Methven were all Livingstons.