Select Silver Surname Genealogy

Silver 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.

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England.  One early Silver line is said to have run from Bartholomew Silver, knighted by Edward II in the early 1300's, to the Elzabethan George Silver, a writer on swordplay (he wrote Paradoxes of Defence 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 Silver was a yeoman at Overton near Winchfield in 1718.  John 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.

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

Three Silver brothers from Scotland – Archibald, John and James – came to Burlington county, 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 Silber 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 Silver who was born in Yancey county, North Carolina and served in the Revolutionary War.  His lineage extended to a number of Silvers who enlisted in the Civil War in Yancey and Mitchell counties, North Carolina.
  • Frankie Silver, 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.
Silver Jewish 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 powerful 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 as director of the Jewish Society Service Bureau.
  • while Saul Silver had arrived from Russia in the early 1900’s and found employment as a sheet metal 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.
Raphael, the son of Abba Hillel Silver, married Joan Micklin who went on to direct Hester Street and other evocative films of Jewish New York.

.  William Silver, the son of an Anglican 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

Select Silver Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select 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 Silvers 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)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 1,000 surnames.

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