Select Fisher Miscellany

 

Here are some Fisher stories
and
accounts over the years:

 

The Fishers of Cossington in Leicestershire

 

This family is of considerable antiquity and was formerly seated at
Burton-on-the-Wolds in Leicestershire.  The earliest account –
derived from old documents – was that of Robert Fisher, a yeoman farmer
who died in 1342.  His descendants continued to live there until
1635 when John Fisher married and settled in Cossington.
Cossington church has the grant of arms for the Fisher family and
memorial tablets to many of the Fishers. John Fisher of this family was
a baker and alderman in Leicester in the 1760’s.  More recently,
the Fishers were clergymen.  Henry Fisher served the parish for
forty years in the late 19th century.   The youngest of his
ten
children, Geoffrey Fisher, became the 99th Archbishop of Canterbury in
1945.

William Fisher of Barrow

The most important man in Barrow village in the first half of the 19th
century was William Fisher.  He was born in Barrow in 1775 and
died there in 1861.  He was a Low Furness yeoman farmer, i.e. a
wealthy worker of the land.

From 1811 to 1859 he kept a diary of local events: births, marriages
and deaths – the “hatchings, matchings and dispatches” column of
today’s Evening Mail.  He also recorded seed and harvest times,
catastrophes and commonplace events.

The diary is important because it gives us interesting glimpses of how
the villagers of this small farming community used to live during a
vibrant period of the area’s history.  During the 48 years covered
by the diary the village of Barrow grew into the industrial town of
Barrow, which was founded on the wealth from the red haematite iron ore
of Furness and the slate of Kirkby.

 

Fishers and Fischers to America

Numbers Per cent
Fishers from England   1,367    14%
Fishers from Scotland and Ireland      557      6%
Fishers from German lands      645      7%
Fischers from German lands   6,998    70%
Fischers from Russia      298      3%
Total   9,865   100%

More Fischers than Fishers came to America.  But
once in America most Fishers anglicized their names to Fisher.
The 1920 US census showed Fishers outnumbering Fischers by almost five
to one.

 

 

An Alternative
Origin for the Fischer Name

Fischer is a Jewish as well as a German surname and
generally considered to be of Ashkenazic origin.  Martin Fischer
in his website has suggested an alternative Sephardic origin.

“Here is my speculative scenario for Sephardic origins of
my Ashkenazic Fischer family.  The Hebrew name Chaim is changed to
Vives to adjust to secular life in Catalanian-speaking Spain until the
expulsion in 1492.  The family then flees to Italy where Vives is
transformed to Feyvush, for which an alternative non-Jewish form is
Phoebus.

Northward immigration follows into German or
Polish-speaking lands and a patronymic (son of) name form is adopted,
such as Faiveshevitz or Fajbiszewicz.  Finally, with increasing
secularization or assimilation, possibly including mid 19th century
immigration to America, the name is shortened to Fischer or Fisher.

This scenario of a name progressing from the Hebrew Chaim
to the German Fischer is of particular interest to me because my great
great grandfather was identified as Chaim ha-Kahane on his son’s
gravestone.  Chaim’s grandson, Henry Fischer, who was my paternal
grandfather, was probably named for Chaim.”

 

The Fishers at the Pennsylvania Frontier

Abel Fisher came to America from Ireland with his wife Rachel in the
1750’s and they settled in New Jersey.  While there, he owned a
small boat in which he carried oysters to Philadelphia and brought back
domestic goods which he exchanged for oysters.

In 1773 he decided to emigrate to the then West.  Procuring a
wagon and a team of miserable horses, he started out for the redstone
country, near the line between Westmoreland and Fayette counties in
Pennsylvania.  After a terrible journey over bad roads and
mountains, they reached late in the fall a point one mile west of Fort
Ligonier, now Ligonier borough.  Here their team gave out and
refused to go any further.

They remained through the winter and finally concluded to make the
neighborhood their permanent home. Subsequently Abel Fisher purchased a
tract of land containing 300 acres two miles west of Ligonier on the
Two Mile Run.  This land remained with the family for more than a
hundred years.

Just as they commenced to make an improvement on their land, the
Revolutionary War came on.  As they were on the frontier and
exposed to Indian raids, the family removed to York, Pennsylvania where
the women remained until the end of the war.  Mr. Fisher and the
two oldest boys returned to Ligonier and lived amidst constant alarms
and dangers, the Indains killing some of the settlers every year.
Sometime during the war, Mr. Fisher died in the fort, it was said of
pleurisy.

Sebastian Fisher’s Journey
from the
Palatine to Pennsylvania

Conditions
in
the Rhineland had grown harsh by 1709.
Since 1702 the country had been in war and there seemed little
hope for
the future.  Palatines were heavily taxed
and endured religious persecution.  The
winter of 1708-1709 had been particularly long and cold.

To go to America became
the dream for many, even though it meant a long, dreadful ocean voyage
and a
future in an unknown land away from their past and family.
However, by April 1709, the Palatines were
boarding their small boats in masses and heading down the Rhine for
Rotterdam.  The river voyage took an
average of 4-6 weeks
through extremely cold, bitter weather.
By October, more than 10,000 Palatines had completed the Rhine
river
journey.  From there streams of Palatines
departed for America, most heading for Pennsylvania.

Sebastian Fisher had
embarked for England from Rotterdam a year earlier with his wife
Susanna and
their two small children.  His condition
was somewhat different.  He was a refugee,
who – according to family lore – had been forced to leave his home and
estate
because of trumped-up charges of poaching.

The Fishers did reach New York in
June, 1709, although one of their children had died on the crossing.  They found themselves encamped with other
German immigrants in small villages along the Hudson river.  However, there was often trouble with the
English
colonist settlers who lived nearby.

Finally, in the spring of 1723, fifteen
families, including Sebastian Fisher, decided to go to Pennsylvania,
hoping for
better treatment than they had received in New York.
They traveled across the Schoharie valley to
the Susquehanna river.  There they built
boats and rafts and with their families proceeded down the Susquehanna
to the
mouth of Swatara creek. a distance of about 150 miles.
Ascending the Swatara they crossed over the
watershed into Tulpehocken valley where they settled.

Feltie Fisher, The Inn-Keeper at Goderich, Ontario

Feltie Fisher was one of the
early settlers of Goderich, Ontario and kept an inn there in the 1830’s
and 1840’s.  This is one account of him that has been handed down:

“Feltie was a character.  His
English wife was as clean and tidy as the Dutchman was careless.
She tried to give her guests all the rude comforts possible and went to
the length of providing wash basins and ewers.  Feltie pitched
them out of the window as innovations unbecoming hardy times, pioneers
and wilderness.In the breadkneck road which was cut down the harbor hill, there was a
spring which had worn for itself a basin just below its vent.  By
this spring was a trough.’You vant to vash?’ asked Feltie to a party of travellers, English
gentlemen who had left York on a fishing tour bound up the lakes.
‘You vant to vash?  Vell, I show you goot pure vater, straight
from heaven.  The longer it runs the purer it is and the longer
you vash the purer you gets.’He bestowed a towel upon them and left them to wash in public as best
they might.”



Fishers from Wales on the Dutchess
of Northumberland
to Australia

In May 1839 Thomas Fisher saw an Emigration Officer and signed the
papers that would take he and his family to a new life in
Australia.  Just what were the motivating factors are not really
clear.  Why would a forty two year old man from Swansea decide to
uproot his whole family (including his son John and wife Ann and three
daughters) and take them to an unknown colony on the other side of the
world?  He may not have been aware of the severe hardships that
the journey would entail.

To board their ship in London, the Fishers would initially have had to
undertake a difficult trip from their home in Swansea, many long
uncomfortable days travelling across rough dirt and cobblestone roads.

The family were travelling on assisted passages.and were housed in the
steering section of the ship.  Here, in the midships, the
conditions were cramped with four passengers often having an area of
little more than six feet square to share.  The bunk in which they
lived was also the storage place for their personal
belongings.   These cramped and unhealthy conditions may have
led to John and Ann Fisher’s daughter Anna contracting diarrhoea and
dying at the tender age of one year.  This sad event was somewhat
lessened by the birth of their first son, Thomas, six weeks later.

The Dutchess of Northumberland
had left London on August 6, 1839 and arrived in South Australia 135
days later on November 19.  Conditions at the landing area there
were still primitive.  The passengers were required to make the
six mile journey by themselves to the town of Adelaide.  They
could travel by horse and dray.  However, because of a lack of
money, it is more likely that they would have had to gather their
lighter possessions and walk the distance, with the heavier items being
carried on a wagon.

 


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