Myers

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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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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.

His 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
.

Canada.
  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)

 

 

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