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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, German


The origins of the Keyser surname date from the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. Their name originated with an early member who was a person who behaved in an imperious manner or it may have also referred to someone who played the part of an emperor in a pageant or play. Keyser is derived from the German word kaiser, which means emperor. This was originally derived from the German word keiser, which in turn came from the Old German word keisar; these both were derived from the Latin imperial title Caesar, which was originally a family name. The most famous members of this family are the great Roman general and statesman Julius Caesar and his adopted son Augustus Caesar, who was the first Roman Emperor. The German title Kaiser was used by the Holy Roman Emperors from Otto I, who ascended the throne in 962 to Francis II, who relinquished the title in 1806. The surname Keyser was often brought to England by German settlers, many of whom were imported as laborers following the Norman Conquest in 1066.

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The English language only became standardized in the last few centuries; therefore, spelling variations are common among early Anglo-Saxon names. As the form of the English language changed, even the spelling of literate people's names evolved. Keyser has been recorded under many different variations, including Kaiser, Kaeser, Kaser, Keiser, Keaser, Kesser, Keysar, Keyser, Cayser and many more.

First found in Oxfordshire, where they held a family seat from ancient times.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Keyser research. Another 289 words (21 lines of text) covering the years 1195, 1273, 1663, 1670, and 1739 are included under the topic Early Keyser History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Keyser Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Keyser family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 111 words (8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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For many English families, the political and religious disarray that shrouded England made the far away New World an attractive prospect. On cramped disease-ridden ships, thousands migrated to those British colonies that would eventually become Canada and the United States. Those hardy settlers that survived the journey often went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Keyser or a variant listed above:

Keyser Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • George Keyser, who sailed to Lynn, Massachusetts in 1638
  • Thomas Keyser, who arrived in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1638
  • Peter Keyser, who came to Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1683
  • Dirk Keyser, who arrived in Germantown in 1691
  • Dirrck Keyser, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1691-1692

Keyser Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • George Friedrich Keyser and Johann Keyser, who came to America in 1709-1710
  • Agnis Keyser arrived in Philadelphia in 1729
  • Agnis Keyser, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1729
  • Eliza Keyser, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1729
  • Jacob Keyser, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1729


Keyser Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Bergitta Christina Keyser, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1804
  • Wilhelm Keyser, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1804
  • Samuel Keyser, who landed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania in 1838
  • Masset Keyser, who landed in New York in 1839
  • Fredrick Keyser, who landed in Mississippi in 1840


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  • W. Elby Keyser (d. 1943), American Republican politician, Mayor of Batavia, New York, 1942-43
  • Frank Ray Keyser Jr. (1927-2015), American lawyer and politician, 72nd Governor of Vermont (1961-1963)
  • Brigadier-General George Vernon Keyser (1895-1972), American Chief of Counter Intelligence Corps (1947-1948)
  • Christopher Adam Keyser (b. 1960), American producer and writer of prime-time dramas
  • Ephraim Keyser (b. 1850), American sculptor
  • William Keyser (1835-1904), executive of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
  • Cassius Jackson Keyser (1862-1947), American mathematician
  • Frank Ray Keyser Jr. (b. 1927), American Republican politician, Governor of Vermont, 1961-63; Defeated, 1962
  • Frank Ray Keyser Sr. (1898-2001), American politician, Member of Vermont State House of Representatives, 1937-39; Superior Court Judge in Vermont, 1956-64; Justice of Vermont State Supreme Court, 1964-75
  • Ellen L. Keyser, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Vermont, 1948

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  • History of the Descendants of Charles Keyser by Florence Skinner Miller.
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  1. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  3. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  4. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  5. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  6. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  7. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  8. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  9. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  10. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
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This page was last modified on 12 March 2015 at 14:06.

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