Weaver Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Weaver Surname Meaning
Weaving as an occupation has generated a number of surnames: Webb, Webster, Webber, and Weaver. The Webb and Webster surnames, which derived from the Old English word webba, have a south/north divide.  Weaver has tended to be much more geographic specific, being found first in Cheshire.  Here the name could have come from another Old English word for weaving, wefan; or it could have been locational, from the river Weaver (and the Old English wefere meaning “winding stream”).  In America the German Weber often became Weaver.

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Weaver Surname Ancestry

England.  Weaver Manor on the Weaver river in Cheshire was recorded as Wevre in the Domesday Book and as Wevere in 1300. The lords of Weaver became known as de Weaver and the first recorded of that name was William de Weaver in 1225. Weavers remained the lords until Thomas Weaver died without male issue in 1446. Other Weavers were to be found by that time at Kinderton and Middlewich nearby. Weavers were recorded at Aston and Weaverham along the river Weaver in the 1580 Visitations of Cheshire.

Another Weaver line, with connections going back to Wales and Shropshire in the 13th century, was to be found in Aymestrey and Presteign in Herefordshire. Weavers of this family were MP’s for Hereford during the 17th century. The line also included Clement Weaver, an early immigrant to America. These Weavers were described in Lucius Weaver’s 1928 book History and Genealogy of a Branch of the Weaver Family.

There were Weavers in Worcestershire by the 17th century. One family line traces back to Bromsgrove in the 1680’s and possibly earlier. The will of William Weaver of Over Hanley was recorded in 1685. Samuel Weaver was born in Mitton in 1725.

By the time of the 1891 census Weaver was still very much a name of the western parts of England, with the main numbers to be found in a line stretching south from Lancashire into Gloucestershire.

America. Clement Weaver first arrived in America around 1640 and came to Newport, Rhode Island about a decade later. He was said by profession to be a wall builder and he constructed for himself a stone house which lasted into the 20th century. He was the immigrant ancestor of thousands of Weaver descendants in America today.

One line of these Weavers ended up on the West Coast in the late 19th century. Sylvester Weaver was a successful roofing contractor in the early days of Los Angeles. His two sons Pat and Doodles started out in West Coast radio. Pat Weaver rose to be President of NBC in the 1950’s. Doodles was an on-screen comedian who later shot himself. Pat’s daughter is the actress Sigourney Weaver.

Pennsylvania.  The Weaver numbers are much greater in America than in England. The reason why can be seen in the state which had and still has the largest number of Weavers in the country. Pennsylvania was the avenue for early German immigrants and many Webers (German for “weavers”) became Weavers there.

The first Webers in America were probably Mennonites. Weber is an old Mennonite family name of Swiss origin. Several Webers emigrated from the Palatinate to Lancaster county in the early 18th century.

The brothers Jacob, Henry, George, and John Weber are known to have arrived around 1710. The first three established a settlement in land which came to be known as Weberthal or Weaverland and from which the present Mennonite church takes its name. Jacob’s grandson Joseph, born in 1765, was the first to be styled Weaver. Meanwhile another Jacob Weber came to New York state. He and his descendants were to be found at German Flats in the Mohawk valley.

Outside Switzerland, the Weber name in Germany was mostly to be found in Rheinland and in Baden-Wurttemburg. Among the subsequent Webers/Weavers who came to Pennsylvania were:

  • Casper Weber who came to Lancaster county around 1720. His grandson, born there in 1747, was Casper Weaver.  
  • Michael Weber who arrived as a young man on the Lydia from Wurttemburg in 1741. He died in Belefonte, Centre county. Kathryn Reighard’s 1988 book Weaver: The History of Ten Generations traced the descendants of Michael Weaver and his wife Anna Barbara.  
  • Johann Weber who arrived in the 1750’s from Baden and settled in Lehigh county. His grandson, born there in 1823, was Enos Weaver.
  • and Jacob Weaver who came with his cousin Christian in 1764 from Switzerland to Philadelphia.  He served as a redemptioner in Berks county to pay for his passage.  Many of his descendants were Amish Mennonites.

Many Weavers stayed in Pennsylvania. Others headed westward. The descendants of Adam Weaver, found in Haines township tax lists until 1817, ended up in Stark county, Ohio. Craven Weaver’s descendants moved via North Carolina to Tennessee and later onto Illinois.

John Weaver – the mayor of Philadelphia from 1903 to 1907 – was not German but came from immigrant English stock, being born in Stourport, Worcestershire.

African American. In the 1840’s a Weaver family fled North Carolina to escape being apprehended as runaway slaves.  Thirteen covered wagons carried the Weavers and a number of other black families through the Carolinas and Ohio before coming to Indiana, a free state.  The area they settled in Grant county was originally known as Crossroads, but was then renamed as Weaver.

Canada. Many of the early Weavers in Canada were Loyalists and, curiously, more of German than of English stock.

Francis Weaver fought with Butler’s Rangers as a teenager during the Revolutionary War. Peter Weber/Weaver was a Hessian soldier who deserted his troops in New Jersey. Both ended up in the Niagara region. Francis fought against the Americans again in 1812. In 1830 George and Catherine Weaver came to this area from Alsace on the German/French border.

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Weaver Surname Miscellany

Early Weavers in Cheshire.  Weaver manor in Cheshire became the possession of the family that bore the same name in the early 13th century.  Whether this family was descended from the Norman Bigots that had previously held the manor is a matter of conjecture.  Maybe they were descended from the unknown trusted servant or “radman” recorded as holding land there in the Domesday Book of 1086.

The first with the family name to appear in records was William de Weaver who around 1225 witnessed the Earl of Chester’s grant of land to Robert Woodford.  It was as under-foresters of Mondrem that they appeared in the records most frequently.

Reader Feedback – Weavers from London’s East End.  I am a Weaver descendant.  However, my bunch lived in the East End of London during the 1800’s.  My great great grandfather Henry Weaver, born in 1826, was very well established and settled in the East End and they were there for several generations.  I then have an ancestor Robert Weaver marrying in Spitalfields in 1810 and before then the trail goes cold!

When reviewing my DNA matches I see that there are many in the Pennsylvania Weavers who moved to Ohio and I can’t help thinking that there is more to that that I should explore. I know that my branch of Weavers are a bit of an anomaly.

The old family narrative was that they were silk weavers in the East End and Huguenot descendants who anglicized their name to match their profession. I doubt that that is true, but it’s nice to think about.  I think that there probably is some truth to the Huguenot link but it is probably more likely to have been through marriage or something and just got mixed up over the years.  If you know of any Weaver branches elsewhere in the UK I would love to hear about them.

Beccy Stanley (beccystanley@yahoo.co.uk).

Weber Mennonites in the Palatinate.  Weber is an old Mennonite family name of Swiss origin. As early as 1664 the Palatine Mennonite census lists reported two Webers, including Peter Weber at Oberflörsheim. He was still living there in 1685, with six sons and one daughter, while there was a second Peter Weber at Waltzheim. Johannes Weber was at Osthofen and Heinrich Weber and Dietrich Weber at Gundersheim. In 1732 Peter Weber was a minister at Oberflörsheim.  In 1738 there were also Weber families at Gundersheim, Spiesheim, Wolfsheim, and at Heppenheim an der Wiese. Among later Webers was Peter Weber of Kindenheim, an influential preacher.

All of these locations were in the Palatinate and west of the Rhine.  From these Webers came the Weber/Weaver immigrants to Lancaster county, Pennsylvania in the early 1700’s.

Weavers in America in 1840.  The table below shows the distribution of Weavers by the leading states in America according to the 1840 census.

State Numbers Percent
Pennsylvania    640    28
Ohio    350    15
New York    330    14
Virginia    110     5
Elsewhere    820    38
Total   2,290   100

Pennsylvania led the list by far, a position it still holds today. 

Weber-Weaver Farm in Lancaster County.  Weber-Weaver Farm is a historic home and farm in West Lampeter township, Lancaster county.  The property includes the Hans Weber House (1724), the Weber barn (c. 1724), and the John Weaver House and summer kitchen (c. 1765).

The Hans Weber House is a stone dwelling modeled on the Hans Herr House in its Germanic style. It measure 36 feet by 34 feet, and was enlarged to a full two-stories and renovated between 1790 and 1810. The John Weaver House was built as a two-story, Georgian style dwelling, subsequently enlarged and modified during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Pat Weaver’s The Best Seat in the House.  In Pat Weaver’s words and for many the 1950’s represented the golden years of American TV.

Pat Weaver was at its forefront.  He assumed the presidency of NBC Television in 1949 and revolutionized the industry by having the network own and program its shows.  Previously the sponsors had controlled their production and content.  Instead, Weaver sold advertising time to sponsors, thereby changing the face of commercial TV forever.  At NBC he husbanded such programs as The Today Show, The Tonight Show, Your Show of Shows, plus the creation of NBC News.

By 1954 Weaver had built a series of strategic prime time lineups that began with comedy and ended with drama.  Two years later, Weaver resigned from NBC when ts chairman David Sarnoff stripped him of his power and the story in The Best Seat in the House, his 1993 memoir, virtually ends there.

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Weaver Names
  • John Weaver was a famous dancing master in England in the 18th century and the man who introduced pantomimes into England.
  • The Weavers were a popular American folk-singing quartet of the 1950’s.
  • Pat Weaver was the innovative President of NBC in the 1950’s.
  • Earl Weaver was a successful baseball manager for the Baltimore Orioles in the 1970’s and 80’s.
  • Sigourney Weaver is an American film actress.
Weaver Numbers Today
  • 15,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 52,000 in America (most numerous in Pennsylvania)
  • 8,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

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