The meaning of the surname SAYERS is diverse because the name can originate from a variety of languages and countries. In my family, our oral history states it is a Scots-Irish (or Ulster Scot) line. In other words, it is a family that originated in Scotland and settled in Ireland for many generations, before emigrating to North America. There is a Gaelic origin of SAYERS which is Mac Saoghair. This apparently is a patronym of the Old English personal name, Saeger, which meant Sawyer (an occupational name for someone who cut, or sawed, wood).
This name has been difficult to search in databases because of its many spelling variations. Some of the more common ones include Sears, Sawyer, and Sayer. Using Soundex to search for this name brings up hundreds of results, making narrowing down likely candidates very difficult.
Researching the SAYERS family was one of my early projects when I began doing genealogy. I was fortunate to come into contact almost immediately with distant cousins, mainly in Canada, who were also researching the family. We were able to exchange information and really expand the family tree of William SAYERS, Sr. and his wife, [--?--] GILLESPIE, although we have been stuck attempting to go back beyond this couple, due to lack of records in Ireland. I have even hired professional genealogists in Ireland to pursue this family line, but they were unable to do so.
Stories and History:
Ahnentafel #156 - William SAYERS (1758 - 1860) - my earliest known SAYERS ancestor, my 4th-great-grandfather, was born in Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland. It is believed, but not known for certain, that his wife's surname was GILLESPIE, as they had a son with that name. The family belonged to the Church of Ireland, and declared themselves Anglican after they emigrated to Canada. William's five known children started emigrating to Prince Edward County (not Prince Edward Island) in what was then Upper Canada (now Ontario) in the late 1820s to late 1830s. I often think about how brave William must have been to be in his late seventies and board a wooden sailing ship to cross the Atlantic to his new home. He apparently lived near or with his son, William, Jr., in Hungerford Township, Hastings County, and appears in the 1861 mortality census as having died the previous year at aged 102.
Ahnentafel #78 - John SAYERS (b. 1811) - he was born in Letterkenny, and as a single young man came to Prince Edward County, Upper Canada, probably with his sister Catherine and her husband Stephen MARTIN. The MARTIN family was one of the early prominent pioneer families in Prince Edward County and have been listed in Pioneer Life on the Bay of Quinte (see link below). In 1828, John was residing in Marysborough Township. He married Mary CAHOON in 1831 in St. Mary Magdalene Church in Picton. They had 11 or 12 children. In 1861 and 1871, they are farming in Cavan Township, Durham County. I cannot find a death record for either John or Mary, although vital registration began in 1867. Their deaths probably went unrecorded. I have other Ontario ancestors who did not have their deaths recorded for one reason or another. They do not appear to be enumerated on the 1881 census, but is difficult to determine for certain, due to spelling variations. Another possibility is that they emigrated to Michigan with a number of their children; however, no death records there have turned up for them.
Ahnentafel #39 - Mahala SAYERS (1847 - 1937) - born in Prince Edward County, she married farmer and carpenter John WILKINSON in 1871 in Port Hope, Northumberland and Durham County. They had eight children (five born in Canada and three in the U.S.) and lived in the Port Hope and Cavan Township areas until about 1880, when they emigrated with a number of Mahala's siblings to Montague Township, Muskegon County, Michigan. By 1884, they had resettled in Whitehall Village, Muskegon County, where they lived until John's death in 1917. As a carpenter, he built numerous homes in Whitehall Township. In 1930, Mahala was living with her son, John, Jr., in Paris Township, Kent County, Michigan. Later, she lived with her daughter and son-in-law, Ella and Floyd LUCHINI, in Alma, Gratiot County, Michigan, where she died. Mahala was my grandfather's great-grandmother, and he remembers her as a small boy. One of the memories involves her running her finger down the length of his nose, saying, "Love is like this..." and then, running it back up, "...but marriage is like this."
Ahnentafel #19 - Mary J. WILKINSON (1872 - 1940) - She was born in Port Hope, the eldest of eight children. She married George Emmett LEWIS (1868 - 1964) on 31 Dec 1891 in Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan. Like her father, George was a carpenter, and it is likely Mary met George if he worked for or with her father. For a short time, Mary and George lived in Cleon Township, Manistee County, and later in Blue Lake Township, Muskegon County, but they lived most of their lives in Whitehall Township, Muskegon County, particularly the Village of Whitehall with both Wilkinson and Lewis family members close by. Mary gave birth to 13 children, 11 of whom survived infancy. Her eldest child, George Richard LEWIS was tragically killed at the age of 20 in a motorcycle accident. Although Mary herself only lived to the age of 68, four of her children survived into their 90's, apparently inheriting her Great-Grandfather Sayers' longevity genes.
Ahnentafel #9 - Marie LEWIS (1902 - 1986) - my great-grandmother; read her AnceStory here.
Ahnentafel #4 - Robert Lewis ROBBINS (1920 - 2003) - my paternal grandfather; read his AnceStory here.
Ahnentafel #2 - my father (living)
Ahnentafel #1 - myself
More About the SAYERS Family:
1. Online database (I update this at least once a month): SAYERS ancestors and relatives (no info on living persons available)
2. Some SAYERS obituaries [on website]
3. Posts about SAYERS ancestors and relatives on this blog
6. My SAYERS Virtual Cemetery on Find A Grave
7. Pioneer Life on the Bay of Quinte, published in 1904, found at the Internet Archive. The SAYERS family's story is intertwined with the MARTIN's, which is on pages 579 through 585.
My SAYERS Immigration Trail:
County Donegal, IRE > Prince Edward Co., ONT > Northumberland Co., ONT > Durham Co., ONT > Northumberland Co., ONT > Muskegon Co., MI > Manistee Co., MI > Muskegon Co., MI > Ottawa Co., MI > AK > Stevens Co., WA > Spokane Co., WA