Myers Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Myers Meaning

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 Resources on
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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.
  • another Myers immigrant,
    originally David
    Mankunsky from Lithuania
    ,
    settled in Sheffield in 1899.

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
belligerent 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

 

The Myers Origin in England.  There  was a place in Lancashire from the old Norse word Myrrkogr from which the original bearer of the surname Myers may have derived his name.  The name has also been spelt Myre, Mire, Mirers, and Myres.

Early records of the name mention Richard de Mirecroft, recorded in
Lanashire in 1273, and David Mire, documented during the reign of
Edward I (1272-1307).  Willelmus del Mire was listed in the
Yorkshire poll tax of 1379.

John Myers and His Wives.  John Myers was a man who started from a low beginning, acquired a large
fortune.  He married four times and, through his fourth wife Alice
(the widow of Anthony Wrightson), acquired Shipley Hall in
Yorkshire.  He subsequently became a Justice of the Peace for
Yorkshire.

In his convivial hours, when the number of bis wives was
mentioned, he would jocularly say: “If I survive, I will have
five.”  Death, however, prevented his fulfilling his wish as he
survived his fourth wife by only a few days.  He was living
in  Cumberland when his fourth wife died in 1821 and he went to
Yorkshire for the funeral.  He was taken ill on the way and died
as soon as he reached Shipley Hall.

Myer Myers, New York’s Colonial Silversmith.  Myer Myers was born in New York City in 1723, the son of Solomon and
Judith Myers.  The family lived one block away from Shearith
Israel’s synagogue on Mill Street, where Solomon and his sons were
active members of the congregation.  After the traditional seven
year apprenticeship, Myers became the first Jewish person in the
British realm to establish himself as a working retail silversmith.

His renown as an artisan came from his ability to execute superb
custom order work for the wealthiest patrons.  His New York
workshop was one of the few that supplied such labor-intensive, richly
ornamented forms as candlesticks, pierced bread baskets, covered jugs,
and cruet stands, and stood alone in the production of such specialized
work
as Torah finials.  Myers’ output was not, however, confined to
these style-conscious forms.  From the mid-1750s his shop
generated a steady income by satisfying the demand for more modest
forms of hollowware and flatware from a larger, less affluent
clientele.

The summer of 1776 brought his activities as a silversmith and
entrepreneur to an abrupt halt.  George Washington had made New
York his headquarters and British troops were besieging the city.
Myers and his family moved with other Jewish families to Norwalk,
Connecticut.  However, in July 1779 a British force attacked and
burned the town, leaving the residents homeless and Myers without his
tools. The family then settled in Stratford, Connecticut for the
remainder of the war years and, despite his losses, it is evident from
extant objects that Myers continued to work as a silversmith.

Fort Myers and Abraham Myers.  Fort Myers, built as a military fort in Florida in 1850, was named
after Colonel Abraham Myers who had been stationed in Florida for the
previous seven years.

Myers was a Confederate General during the Civil War but fell
from grace after the Battle of Gettysburg.  The
Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, removed him from office
because of his failure to supply the southern armies with needed shoes,
coats and blankets.  Myers felt humiliated by the termination and
remained bitter for the rest of his life.

His wife Marion hadn’t helped his cause.  Her sharp tongue had
made her many
enemies.  She had once said that the President’s wife Varina Davis
looked like “an old squaw.”  There was sniping at her and her
husband as Jews who they said owed their first loyalty to “the party of
Moses”
and “the tribe of Levi.”

Blamed for losses on the battlefield and losing the war in the parlors
of Richmond as well, Abraham Myers was passed over for promotion and
replaced as Quartermaster General.  Between that and being on the
wrong side in the Civil War, he pretty much lost everything.  But
he would always have Fort Myers.

Myers and Related Names in America.  Most Myers in America were probably of German, Swiss or Austrian
origin, having anglicized their names in America.  There were
87,000 Myers and related names in the 1920 US census.

Surname Numbers
(000)
Percent Most
Common In –
Myers 34    39 Pennsylvania
Meyers 13    15 Pennsylvania
Meyer 23    27 New York
Mayer 9    10 New York
Maier 2     2 New York
Moyer 6     7 Pennsylvania

Reader Feedback – The Life of Hunter John Myers.  This
book
, entitled Leather and Silk, was written in 1854 by the writer
John Esten Cooke who
se brother was Phillip Pendelton Cooke.  His cousin was Secretary of the Navy John Pendelton Kennedy.  This Myers family was Catholic with ties to the Jewish Myer Myers family in Richmond, Virginia.  A study was done on this family by Stanford
University in the mid 1930’s. 
 

Whomever
they are, they
seem to be related to the Virginia Pendelton family, CSA Jeb
Stuart, Thomas Jefferson then his grandson Confederate Secretary
of War
George W Randolph and CSA General Robert E Lee if not
the
writer
John Esten Cooke himself.
 

Another
good book is Reflections in a Silver
Spoon
by Pittsburgh
banker
Paul Mellon
since a Mellon relative did support

research on
Hunter John Myers.  John Esten Cooke was related to Jack Kent
Cooke who
married Barbara Jean Carnegie who was a close friend of Rachael Bunny
Mellon.  Rachael married Pittsburgh
banker
Paul Mellon.  Jack Kent Cooke owned the Washington Redskins
and is buried with the Pittsburgh Mellon family.  All these
records are at
the John Heinz Carnegie Mellon University on 5000 Forbes Street in
Pittsburgh.
 

Lawrence John Myers (versailles99@aol.com)

Napoleon Boneparte Myers.  White Myers of Fort Blount, Tennessee was obviously a fan of the French
Emperor.  He named his first son, born in 1846, after him.
When Napoleon grew up and married, he owned a house on 53 acres
overlooking the Cumberland river in Granville.  It was a large and
ornate house with stain-glass windows, gingerbread trim, and large
hand-hewn stones for the foundation.  In the entrance hall was the
mural of a pear tree bedecked with doves and with the names of everyone
in the family.  Napoleon and his wife were members of the
Cumberland Presbyterian church in Carthage.

Some researchers have Napoleon’s full name as Philip
Napoleon Boneparte.  Perhaps he didn’t like the Napoleonic
connection.  According to the 1850 and 1860 censuses, he was
listed simply as Philip.  All other records show him as Napoleon
Boneparte or N.B.

David and Tsivia Mankunsky/Myers from Lithuania.  David and Tsivia and some of their siblings came to England from
Lithuania and Poland in the 1880’s and 1890’s.  They spoke no
English.  David went to night school and learned to read and
write.  His wife spoke Yiddish and only very poor English and was
illiterate in that language all of her life.  They settled in
Sheffield.  However, David caught tuberculosis from the terrible
conditions in which they lived and worked and he died in 1910.
His widow was left without skills, with no communication outside of her
own community, and with three small children.

The family moved to Leeds and she made a precarious and physically very
difficult living selling poultry. Although illiterate her respect for
education was enormous and both of her sons, Joshua and Charles, went
to university.

 

 

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 Numbers 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)

 

Select Myers and Like Jewish Surnames

The Jews were banned from England in 1290 and did not return there until the 1650’s, sometimes in the form of Portuguese traders.  They were to make their mark as merchants and financers in London and many families prospered.  There was another larger Jewish influx in the late 1800’s.

In America the early settlement of Sephardic Jews was in Charleston, South Carolina.  In the 19th century Ashkenazi Jews started to arrive from Germany.  Later came a larger immigration from a wider Jewish diaspora.  Between 1880 and 1910 it is estimated that around two million Yiddish-speaking Jews, escaping discrimination and pogroms, arrived from the Russian empire and other parts of Eastern Europe.

Some Jewish surnames reflect ancient Biblical names, such as Cohen and Levy.  Some have come from early place-names where Jews resided, such as Dreyfus (from Trier), Halpern (from Heilbronn) and Shapiro (from Speyer).  Many more surnames came about when Ashkenazi Jews were compelled by Governments to adopt them in the early 1800’s.  The names chosen at that time were often ornamental ones – Bernstein or Goldberg or Rosenthal for example.  Then the name could change on arrival in America at Ellis Island.  And finally anti-Semitism perceived could cause further changes to conceal Jewishness.

Here are the stories of some of the Jewish surnames that you can check out here.

AbrahamFriedmanKleinSachs
AdlerGoldbergKramerSchiff
BernsteinGoodmanLevySegal
BloomHalpernMyersShapiro
CohenHirschRosenthalSolomon
EpsteinKaplanRubinWeinberg

 

 

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