Select Myers Surname Genealogy

The English derivation of the surname Myers was from the Old Norse myre or mire.  The surname Myre, Myres and most commonly Myers is a locational name in the north of England for a dweller by swampy, low-lying lands. 

However in America, Myers will also have come from German surnames such as Meyers, Meyer, Mayer, Maier, or Moyer.  The root here is quite different - from the German meier, a status name for a steward, bailiff or town magistrate.  It came later to denote a tenant farmer.

There are also the Jewish Myers, from the Hebrew meir, light or enlightener.

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Select Myers Ancestry

England.   Willelmus del Mire was recorded in the Yorkshire poll tax returns of 1379 and Myers has been a Yorkshire surname since that time.  The county accounted for nearly half of the Myers in England in the 1891 census.

Yorkshire  Myers from Guiseley near Leeds date from the 1650's.  A Francis Myers married Sarah Emmerson in Rotherham in 1757.  Their descendants are now to be found all over Yorkshire and further afield.  Other Myers were market gardeners from the 1780's at Hornsea and nearby villages in the East Ridings. 

Two Myers families have been very prominent in the small village of Wheldrake near York.  A family of joiners started there with John and William Myers in 1778 and continued until 1920.  More impressive has been the Myers family of funeral directors, in place since 1701 and still going strong. 

Elsewhere  Another Myers business started with Charles Myers from Cawthorpe in Lincolnshire who in 1901 began baking his Lincolnshire plum loaves.  This business has continued through four generations. 

Immigrants.  Some Myers have been immigrants:
  • a Myers family of Flemish weavers had come in the 17th century and purchased land at Dunningwell in Cumbria.  The Rev. John Myers from this line amassed a fortune in the 18th century by marrying well no less than four times.  Through his fourth wife Alice he acquired Shipley Hall in Yorkshire.  His descendants subsequently emigrated to New Zealand. 
  • a later arrival, Joseph Myers, came to the East End of London in the 1820's.  These Myers also emigrated, in this case to Australia. 
Ireland.  Myers appeared in SW Ireland as an anglicized form of the Gaelic name O'Meidhir meaning mirth.  In Antrim, the Myers were more likely to have come from England. 

America.  Most Myers and related names would seem to have come to America from Germanic countries rather than from England.  They may have been Meyers from lowland Germany, Mennonite Meyers and Moyers from Switzerland, or Mayers from Austria.  In most cases their arrival point was Philadelphia and many had become Myers by the 1780's. 

Among the arrivals were:
  • Johannes Meyers from Germany in 1717
  • Christian Moyer from Switzerland in 1719.
  • Elias Moyer from Germany in 1732
  • Peter Meyer from Switzerland in 1741
  • and Mattheus Meyer from Rotterdam in 1741.
Early surname spellings in Pennsylvania could vary considerably.
Myers in New York  Many Myers came via New York.  The Myers family of Albany, New York came from an old Dutch family, their forebear being a Stephanus Myers who had arrived from Holland and settled in what was then New Amsterdam.  Christian Myers arrived in 1710 with German Palatine refugees being settled in the Hudson river valley.  He and his wife Ann (who met on the voyage across) ended up in Saugerties, New York and raised a large family there.

Jewish Myers  The Myers name could also be Jewish, such as the Myers of colonial New York which included the noted silversmith Myer Myers.  Later from this family came Gustavus Myers, a lawyer and a leader in the political life of Richmond, Virginia until the Civil War.  It is possible that the legendary hunter and trapper Hunter John Myers, a converted Catholic who was born around 1765, might have come from this family. 

Hyam Myers was a Jewish merchant from Amsterdam who came to New York in the 1740’s.  His son Moses operated an import/export business first in New York and then, from 1787, in Norfolk, Virginia. 

family firm of Myers & Company became one of Norfolk’s leading antebellum businesses and would contribute much to the reconstruction of Norfolk after the Civil War.  Barton Myers would then guide Norfolk’s progress into the modern era of the 20th century.  Five generations of the Myers family lived in the Moses Myers House in Norfolk from 1795 until 1931.

Mordecai Myers, born in Rhode Island, went south to Charleston, South Carolina to make his living.  After his marriage, he would not speak of his parents as Jewish - but that his father Myer Benjamin was Hungarian and his mother Rachel Austrian.  He was the founding father of the Georgetown mercantile community in Charleston.  His son, Abraham Myers, fell from grace during the Civil War.  

Myers in Pennsylvania  The largest concentration of Myers in America, however, has been and continues to be Pennsylvania.  Many who immigrated there stayed.  This applied in particular to the Mennonite immigrants.  Others moved on: 
  • Hans Meier from Germany came with his wife Ana to Lancaster county, Pennsylvania around 1715.  Their Myers descendants later moved to Ohio and Texas.  The family history was recounted in Dorothy Adams’ 1987 book Myers History.  
  • in the 1780's Christian Myers and his family moved from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, while George and Margaret Myers headed for Kentucky where they raised fifteen children.  
  • another family line traces Myers to Ohio from the 1790's and then to Calloway county, Kentucky from the 1820's;  while a Quaker family that came to Columbiana, Ohio produced three Myers sisters in the 1850's who were pioneer female doctors.  Mary also operated an underground railroad station for escaped slaves.   
David and Jane Myers set out from South Carolina in wagon trains in 1820 for Texas, but ended up in Alabama.  Their family cemetery in the Eight Mile hamlet near Mobile was established in 1849 and remained functioning until the early 1950's.  

Caribbean.  Two Jewish Myers brothers, Michael and Fred, left Portsmouth in England for Jamaica in the early 1800’s.  Fred was the founder of Myers’ Rum.  Some of Michael’s descendants emigrated to New York during the 1930’s.

  The early Myers in Canada were of varied origin.  John Meyers, probably of German origin, was a Loyalist belligerant during the Revolutionary War who crossed over to Canada and helped found the town of Belleville, Ontario.  David Myers, together with his mother and step-brothers, left upstate New York for Innisfil and Barrie, Ontario in 1830. 

By sea came:
  • Thomas Myers, nicknamed Pappy, to Hampton, Prince Edward Island in 1817.  He was of lowland German origin. 
  • Thomas Mairs from Ireland had come to Chapel Cove, Newfoundland in 1801.  Another Thomas Myers from Ireland stopped off in New Brunswick sometime in the 1820's
  • around the same time the Brockmeyers from Alsace/Lorraine in France reached Quebec province.  This family changed their name to Myers in the 1860's.
Australia and New Zealand.  David Myers set out from Yeadon in Yorkshire for Australia with his large family in 1848.  They became sheep farmers in a property near Cooma in New South Wales.  Other Myers from Yorkshire followed them. 
Jewish Myers  There was a sizeable Myers Jewish representation down under as the 19th century proceeded.  It probably started with Judah Myers, a crockery merchant in Nelson and then Wellington, New Zealand.  He and his wife Eve raised twelve talented children.  Their grandson Michael later became Chief Justice of New Zealand.

Another dynasty revolved around Sir Arthur Myers, New Zealand's Minister of Munitions during World War One.  Sir Arthur himself was devoutly Jewish.  But religious observance in the family faded with the succeeding generations.

The merchant Lewis Myers was a leader of the Jewish community in Melbourne in the 1860's and 1870's. Arriving there in 1899 (escaping Tsarist Russia and its Jewish pogroms) was the Sydney Myer who started the famous Myer department store.  He died prematurely and unexpectedly in 1934 at the age of 56. Newspaper reports of the time described the seven mile route of his funeral procession being lined with 100,000 mourners.

Select Myers Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Myers Names

Myer Myers
was a prominent silversmith in colonial New York.
Frederick Myers was a pioneer of psychical research in England in the late 19th century.
Charles Myers, the British psychologist, coined the word shell shock after World War One.
John Myers invested with William Bristol in an upstate New York drug company at the turn of the century. That company became the pharmaceutical giant Bristol Myers.
Sydney Myer, born Simcha Baevski in Russia, started the famous Myer department store in Australia.

Select Myers Today
  • 12,000 in the UK (most numerous in Yorkshire)
  • 88,000 in America (most numerous in Pennsylvania) 
  • 25,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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