Silver Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Silver Meaning
as a surname has English, German or Jewish
roots.  The English surname, derived from
the Old English seolfar meaning
“silver,” would describe either a silversmith or someone who was rich
(having a
lot of silver). The German and Jewish
root is silber.   Early
surname appearances were Lucas Siluer
in Lincolnshire in 1205 and Radolfus Silberer in Upper Schwabia in
Germany in 1249

Select Silver Resources on

Silver Ancestry

England.  One early Silver line is said to have run from
Bartholomew Silver, knighted by Edward II in the early 1300’s, to the
Silver, a
on swordplay (he wrote Paradoxes of
in 1599).   But little is known
about either man.   Sir Bartholomew may or may not have
existed (there is no proof that he did).  George, the eldest of
four brothers, married Mary Haydon in London is 1580 and was described
as a gentleman.

The Silver name was mainly concentrated in the 17th and 18th centuries,
outside of London, in villages in the eastern part of Hampshire –
places like Ropley near Winchester and, further north, Odiham and
Winchfield.  Nicholas
was a yeoman at Overton near Winchfield in 1718. 
and Hannah Silver were married in Odiham All Saints’ church in
1783.  A family line began with the birth of John Silver in
Winchfield in 1773.

was also a
Scottish name
.  The Silver name, or
variants of it, had
appeared there by the 16th century.  It was
mostly to be found in the Aberdeenshire area of NE Scotland.  One Silver family were farmers at Maryculter
in the Deeside area.  Another line has been traced back to Robert
Silver who was born around 1792 at Old Machar.

America.  Silver arrivals into America came in two
stages: first some Silvers from England, Scotland and Germany; and then
larger number of Jewish immigrants, primarily from the Russian empire.

Thomas Silver, probably from Hampshire, came to Ipswich, Massachusetts
in 1634.  He
died in Newbury in 1682. 

of this family, then
living in Haverhill, was abducted by Indian raiders in 1708 and never
This line was
in Henry A. Silver’s 1980 book Thomas
Silver of Ipswich, Massachusetts

brothers from Scotland – Archibald, John and James – came to Burlington
New Jersey on the Lamb in 1682.  Their
descendants headed west after the
Revolutionary War.  Some ended up in Ohio
(Hamilton county), others in Indiana (Marion county)

Georg Wendel
arrived in
Pennsylvania in 1749 and settled in Frederick county, Maryland.
His son George Silver Jr. migrated to North Carolina.  

Later notable Silvers have been:

  • George
    who was born in Yancey county, North Carolina and served in the
    War.  His lineage extended to a number of
    Silvers who enlisted
    in the Civil

    in Yancey and Mitchell counties, North Carolina
  • Frankie
    famously hanged for the murder of her husband in
    North Carolina in 1833
  • and the Silvers from Washington county, Maryland who worked on
    the Chesapeake and Ohio canal as boatmen in the mid/late 1800’s.

immigrants into New York have included:

  • Abba
    Hillel Silver who arrived from
    Lithuania as a young man with his parents in 1902 and grew up to be a
    orator in his leadership of the Zionist movement in America.
  • Harold
    Silver who
    came from Russia with his parents in 1913 and served the Jewish cause
    director of the
    Society Service
  • while
    Saul Silver had
    arrived from Russia in the early 1900’s and found employment as a sheet
    worker helping to build New York’s skyscrapers.  His
    eighth and youngest child Phil Silvers made it big on
    American TV in the 1950’s
    with The Phil Silvers Show.

the son of Abba Hillel Silver, married Joan Micklin who went on to
direct Hester Street and other evocative films
of Jewish New York.

Canada.  William Silver, the son of an
clergyman in Hampshire, came to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1805 and
started a
small retail business there.  It was
greatly expanded by his son William who developed the company in the
1840’s into
Halifax’s leading wholesaler.  The son
prospered and left a large estate on his death in 1903.


Silver Miscellany

Silver as a Surname in Scotland.  George Black
had the following about the incidence of the Silver surname in Scotland
in his
1946 book The Surnames of Scotland:

surname is not uncommon in
the M’earns and is an old one in the parish of Fetteresso.  John Syllar was a tenant of the garden of the
of Dundee in 1464; James Silvir, “succentor Glasguensi,” appeared as a
in 1497 may have been James Siluer, the rector of Durisdere in 1504;
Silver de Stobo was a charter witness in 1506; and another William
Siluer or
Silwer was a cleric in Aberdeen in 1540, and chaplain of Folaroull in
1546.  The name Silver on a tomb in the Calton
cemetery in Edinburgh, near the Stevenson lair, probably suggested to
Louis Stevenson the surname of his Long John Silver in Treasure

Mary Silver Who Stayed in Canada.  Mary Silver,
aged 14 in 1708 and then living in Haverhill, was abducted to Canada by
and Indian raiders.  Two years later her
New England friends discovered that she had abjured her Protestant
faith and
had entered the convent of Soeurs de
in Montreal where she learnt nursing.

In 1713 it was possible that she could have
returned to her home in Massachusetts.
Her mother beseeched her to return.
But she chose to remain in Canada.
And she stayed at the Soeurs de
until her death in 1740.

Georg Silber from Germany to America.  Georg
Wendel Silber was born in 1731 in Wuerttemburg some 20 kilometers south
Stuttgart.  He was the descendant of well
known metal workers. The Silber men were considered masters of the art
wrought iron designing and blacksmithing.

Georg arrived at the port of Philadelphia on September 26, 1749 on the Speedwell which had sailed from
Rotterdam.  He made his way to Montgomery
county, Pennsylvania where he married Elisabeth Schmieden in the old
church there in 1752.  He patented land
in what was called the Littleworth tract in Frederick county, Maryland
in 1774
where he died eleven years later.

The Ballad of Frankie Silver.  One of
the few certainties about Frankie Silver is that she was hanged for the murder
of her husband Charlie in Morganton, North Carolina on July 12, 1833.  Many of the other facts surrounding their
married life, the murder in 1831, the reasons for the crime, and the
leading up to Frankie’s death are shrouded in myth and folklore.  The story has been told in ballads,
“true-crime” magazine articles, plays, ballets, books, essays,
and countless newspaper articles.

to the most common version of the story:

“Frankie killed Charlie in a fit of jealous rage three
days before
Christmas 1831. She suspected him of infidelity with another man’s wife
decided to exact her revenge as he lay sleeping on the floor.

struck his head with an axe.  The first
blow did not immediately kill him
and he thrashed around the house mortally wounded.
Frankie hid under the covers of their bed,
eventually coming out when she heard his body hit the floor.  She then took another swing with the axe,
this time completely severing his head.
Frankie attempted to conceal the evidence of the murder by
chopping the
body into pieces and burning them in the cabin’s fireplace.

thorough investigation of the home and
surrounding area revealed bits and pieces of charred bone, a heel iron
Charlie’s shoe, and a pool of dried blood under the puncheon floor.
Frankie was
immediately arrested.

Frankie was tried,
convicted, and sentenced to die by hanging.
After a failed appeal to the North Carolina Supreme Court, she
broke out
of jail with the help of her family.  The
sheriff and his posse eventually caught up to Frankie who was disguised
as a
man and walking behind her uncle’s wagon.
She was returned to prison and her execution was set for July
12, 1833.

the day arrived, she was led to the
scaffold.  The sheriff asked if she had
anything she wanted to say.  She told the
sheriff that she did have something to say, but she wanted to sing it
instead.  After she finished her lonely
ballad, the noose was placed around her neck, and she became the first
woman to
be hanged in North Carolina.”

Silver Civil War Enlistees.  The following
Silvers enlisted in Mitchell and Yancey counties, North Carolina in the Civil War.

Name Date of Birth Rank Place of Enlistment
David R. Silver  1832 captain Mitchell co.
Samuel M. Silver  1833 lieut. colonel Mitchell co.
Levi D. Silver  1837 second lieut. Mitchell co.
Edmund D. Silver  1838 first sergeant Mitchell co.
David H. Silver  1838 first sergeant Yancey co.
Tilman B. Silver  1839 corporal Mitchell co.
Alexander Silver  1846 private Mitchell co.



Silver Names

  • George Silver was known in the late 16th and early 17th centuries for his writings on swordplay. 
  • Long John Silver is the popular fictional
    pirate in the novel Treasure Island
    by R.L. Stevenson. 
  • Phil Silvers, born Rhllip Silver to New York Jewish immigrants, was the 1950’s TV sitcom star who introduced the world to Sergeant Bilko. 
  • Nate Silver is an American statistician and writer who analyzes baseball and election results.

Select Silver Numbers Today

  • 4,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 9,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 6,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



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