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HAVING published, several years ago, a genealogy of his father's family, the author began the collection of material for a similar work on his mother's line, descendants of Thomas Sayre, one of the founders of Southampton, Long Island. He met with some difficulties he had not experienced in his former task. All the persons he heard of bearing the name of Banta were descendants (or wives of such descendants) of Epke Jacobse, the Frisian immigrant of 1659; whereas the name of Sayre, in its various spellings, has been common in England for at least seven centuries, and other persons of that name besides our Thomas were among the early settlers of New England and the South, and have been found among the immigrants, not only from England, but from Ireland and Germany, to the present time. It will readily be seen, therefore, that large numbers of those in this country who bear the name of Sayre, Sayres, Sayer, Sayers, etc., would not be included within the scope of this work.
Again, while the Bantas, for nearly a century and a half at least, were generally connected with the Dutch churches of New Netherland and vicinity, the records of whose marriages and baptisms have been, with rare exceptions, preserved, so that it was possible to get quite complete data as to families from the beginning, the Sayres were mostly in Congregational or Presbyterian churches in Suffolk and Orange counties, N. Y., and Essex, Salem, Cumberland and Cape May counties, N. J., where scarcely any marriage or baptismal registers are extant prior to the nineteenth century. Curiously enough, too, very few family Bibles have been discovered containing records so much sought after. This will explain, therefore, why, in the earlier generations mentioned in this book, the maiden names of wives, and dates of marriage, birth and death, are so frequently missing. From wills and deeds the first names of wives have sometimes been gleaned.
THE SPELLING OF THE NAME.
As is well known, in early times there was no uniformity in the spelling of many ordinary words, and it was to be expected that in the spelling of proper names great diversities would be found. The name of the family forming the subject of this book has had only the ordinary experience of other cognomens in this regard. In the first official document we have discovered referring to this family, being a tax-list for Poddington, Bedfordshire, England, the ancient home of the family, under date of 1332 occur the names of William, John and Galfro Seyer. In Harvey's History, referred to on page 2, the form of Sayer appears in 1327, Sayr in 1430, and Seyre in 1545. In the will of the first positively identified ancestor, William, dated 1562, the name appears as Sayer, Seyer and Seyre. A grandson of this William Sayre, who, we learn, had been educated, drew up and witnessed his cousin's will, as stated on page 5; and in this his signature appears in a “very good hand,” William Sayre. It may not be generally known that the word “cousin ” at that period included other degrees of relationship, such as nephews and grandnephews, and in the particular instance cited on page 5, William Sayre was a nephew or grandnephew of Edmund Squire, who called him his cousin.
The families who remained on Long Island and those who went to New Jersey have usually retained the spelling Sayre, while those who removed to Orange County, N. Y., about the middle of the eighteenth century, commonly adopted Sayer. One family removed from Southampton to Middletown, Conn., many descendants of whom spell their name Sears. Other forms have been adopted, such as Sayr, Sayrs, Sayers, Sayres, etc., and apparently for no assignable reason. Two brothers sometimes have spelled their names differently. For example, Anthony, on page 215, spelled his name Sayre, as did his father. His brother Matthias, page 212, signed himself as Sayres. Curiously enough, the latter left two sons, the descendants of one of whom use the form Sayres, and of the other, Sayre. In another case a father, whose signature is Sayr, has children who add the final “e."
The "History of Southampton," by Mr. George R. Howell, a Sayre descendant (page 160), contains a dozen pages or more of genealogies of the Sayre family, and these have been of very great value in laying the foundation for this work. Mr. Samuel P. May, of Newton, Mass., published in 1890 a genealogy of the Sears family; and in the collection of matter therefor he accumulated considerable material relating to the Sayres, which he generously placed at the disposal of the present writer. In addition, he has been unstinted in his services in the way of suggestion and information, and the compiler of these records gratefully acknowledges his indebtedness to the uniform courtesy and invaluable assistance of Mr. May.
Of course, in a work of this character the great bulk of the material, other than that derived from public or official documents, must be contributed by the various members of the families who may be interested in it, and the labor of the author has largely been that of a compiler. He would express his warm appreciation of the services of the many who have helped him, sometimes by the expenditure of much labor and trouble, in collecting and contributing records of their own families.
There are others who have not only furnished information as to their own immediate families, but have been unsparing in their efforts to collect material from a wider circle; and to these he would express especial thanks. Among these he feels it due to mention Mrs. Laura Jones, of Newark, N. J., who has thoroughly gleaned the field of Essex County, N. J.; Miss Elizabeth Burt, of Warwick, N. Y., who has been very efficient in collecting information from the Orange County, N. Y., families; and Mr. Edward A. Sayre, of St. Mary's, West Virginia, who has aided materially in enrolling in their proper places many of the mighty army of Sayres in that State and in Ohio.
Howell's “ History of Southampton ” publishes the following in regard to the coat of arms of Thomas Sayre. Traditions as to family arms are not usually of much value as authority.
“ The arms of the Sayre family are, as handed down by family tradition : “Gules, a chevron ermine between three sea-gulls argent. “Crest: A cubit arm erect proper holding a dragon's head erased argent. “Motto : Saie and doe."
The Sayres have borne their part in all the wars in which the country has been engaged. A list is here given of all whom we have been able to identify. It is doubtless by no means complete, especially in regard to the Civil War, as the main source of information relating thereto has been from correspondents, and the questions bearing on the subject may not always have been noted and answered. The war with Spain and that in the Philippine Islands have been too recent to permit of obtaining any account of participants therein, except in two or three cases.
Daniel Sayre David Sayre David Sayre Ethan Sayre
42 45 69
37 63 131
215 123 131 132 209
73 147 168
137 140 116
151 164 165 175 699 166
95 141 207 198
2 1 2
PAGE 206 672 117
134 193 240
125 148 173