Saturday, July 14, 2007

Seaver Surname - Origin, Meaning, Famous People, Localities

The next Carnival of Genealogy is about Surnames! The instructions were:

"Pick a surname on your tree and tell us about it. What are it's ethnic origins? Has it morphed over time as your family has used it? (or at Ellis Island ;-) What does it mean? Is it common or rare? What are the common misspellings? Any famous people or places with your surname?"

OK - here we go for SEAVER.

1. Ethnic Origins - there seem to be several opinions here - English, Germanic, Gaelic, Roman, French, Nordic.

2. Has it Morphed over Time? Probably - the spelling has changed as families branched off and clerks wrote it differently.

3. What Does it Mean? - Well, it depends on the ethnic origin!

* English: from the medieval personal name Sefare, a continuation of an unattested Old English female name, S?faru, composed of the elements s? ‘sea’ + faru ‘journey’. This name has also been established in Ireland since the early 17th century. (Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press)

* Gaelic: Saibher, rich; (An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names With an Essay on their Derivation and Import; Arthur, William, M.A.; New York, NY: Sheldon, Blake, Bleeker & CO., 1857.)

* French - Sever, local, a town in France (in Normandy). (Ibid).

* Roman - Severus - "stern" in Latin. The name Severus was borne by several early saints.

* Germanic - from "Siebmacher" meaning "sieve maker."

My Seaver heritage is most likely English or Gaelic. A rich seafarer? I wish!

4. Is it Common or Rare? - Yes, both. It was fairly common in New England in the 19th century - almost every town had a family with the name. It's relatively rare now - it was #8,167 in the 1990 census if you believe the statistics (I don't - see here).

5) What Are the Common Misspellings? - Seaver, Sever, Siever, Seiver, Siver, Sevier, Seavers, Severs, Seever, Seeber, etc.

6) Any Famous People or Places with the Surname? -- Actually, not too many.

* The most famous Seaver person is probably George Thomas Seaver, the Hall of Fame basball pitcher known as Tom Seaver, now a broadcaster. He's my cousin.

* The TV series "Growing Pains" was about a fictional Seaver family - mom, dad, 4 kids, pets, etc.

* Pepperdine University in has a "Seaver College" named after an alumnus - inventor Frank R. Seaver, who mentioned Pepperdine in his will. However, it was his widow, Blanche E. Seaver who gave large donations which enabled the school to expand into Malibu in 1971. In 1975, the Malibu campus was named the Frank R. Seaver College, and it has become the flagship undergraduate school of the University.

* The most prolific published genealogy person with the Seaver surname is probably Jesse Montgomery Seaver, who wrote a slew of rotten surname books in the 1920s, and apparently went to jail for taking people's money without delivering promised books.

That's probably much more than anyone cares to know about the Seaver surname - never fear, I can always use this musing in my Seaver Family Journal newsletter at Christmas for the relatives!


Bill West said...

Hi, Randy!
J.L. Bell mentioned an Elijah
Seaver from Roxbury his latest post on Boston 1775 among some Americans held prisoner by the British and then exchanged at the start of the Revolution.

I know you have Seaver roots up here.Any chance that Elijah is part of your line?

Janice said...


Thanks for the fun article about the SEAVER family. You left out the most famous Seaver of all.... a guy named Randy Seaver who entertains family tree geeks :D :D


Captain Oaks said...

hey randy, how are you? i'm from argentina. I found your blogspot on google. i was looking for american people. Please, e-mail me, do you have msn messenger? my msn is
i want to talk with you, because i want to move to california in the future, and i want to talk with you about my projects. i'd never talk with an american person. Please mail me or we can talk in the msn too.
sorry for my english, i wrote the best i could.

best wishes,
Guido, from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Debbie said...

I've been digging into my family geneology for the last year or so and am directly related to members of the "Seever" clan in the Minnesota/ Wisconsin area. I'm still searching back to the country of origin of the name, but it is interesting to view all of the censuses and other records which spell the same family member's name differently (Seever, Sever, Seevert, etc...). Thanks for the info you provided. Hopefully I'll be able to use it when I find countries of origins.

Unknown said...

Hi, my maiden name is shauna ann seaver. I was born in cleves ohio. My dad is joseph seaver and mostbof my seaver relatives are in colmbus, cincinnato ohio and also in Indiana. I wonder if im related to the baseball player. My dads fathers name is also tom seaver from cleves ohio, which is near Cincinnati. I just wanted 7nfo to pass 8n to the rest of my family. Thanks

Unknown said...

Thats my relative!

Unknown said...

That's my direct relative!