Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Clymer: French, English, German or Swiss?

In 1730, a cousin of my ancestor Henrich Klemmer, arrived in Philadelphia on the ship Alexander and Ann. Interestingly, the captain of the English ship was William Clymer.

Ship Alexander and Ann
I have previously written about how the name Clemmer (What’s in a Name?) has various spellings and they have been used interchangeably over the years (Klymer, Kleiner, Klimmer, Clemmer, Clymer). In that post, I mentioned that the earliest known relative of this clan (my clan) was Thoman Klymer. My source only stated that he was born ca. 1554, but it didn’t state where. The only record available was that he got married to Adelheit Byekel in 1577 in Affoltern near Zürich. This is where my ancestor Valentine (Velty) Klemmer, great-grandson of Thoman and father of Henrich, was born in 1655.

Upon further research, I discovered that Thoman Klymer was born in Montbéliard, France, in 1554 (see link: https://gw.geneanet.org/ricknorine?n=clymer&oc=&p=thoman+a). Family lore has it that he was a Huguenot, a protestant in very Catholic France. By edict of the French king, Huguenots came under severe persecution, and for that reason our ancestor moved to Switzerland. How ironic that his grandson, Valentine, would become an Anabaptist and come under persecution in Switzerland (see First Person Account of Anabaptist Immigrant Henrich Clemmer), would flee to Friedelsheim in Germany and then on to the USA in 1717.

In the meantime, one of my siblings did a DNA test and discovered that along with the expected central European, 36% of our heritage comes from the British Isles. This led me to make a number of leaps in thought.

Although there are many variants of the name in Switzerland now, the name Klemmer (Klymer) is not of Swiss origin. Nor is it German. Our Klemmer relatives moved from Switzerland to Germany and there are still Klemmers living there. The origins in France are not clear. Klemmer (Klymer) sure doesn’t look or sound anything like a French name.

The name Clymer is definitely of English origin, like the name of the captain of the ship I mentioned above. According to websites dealing with the Clymer name, they have moved all around the world, especially since the 17th and 18th Centuries. Could it be that at some point a Clymer moved from the British Isles to France, establishing the Clymer-Klymer-Klemmer-Clemmer name in Central Europe?

In my opinion, there is nothing more interesting than delving into one’s heritage.