Select Snyder Surname Genealogy

Snyder is a Dutch occupational surname meaning "one who cuts outer garments" or a tailor.  It derived from the Middle Dutch sniden, meaning “to cut.”  The English term “snide,” as in “a snide or cutting remark,” comes from this root.  A notable early name was Frans Snyders, a 17th century Flemish painter at the time of Rubens. 

The German Schneider, also meaning tailor, is a far more common surname.  There are more than 300,000 Schneiders in Germany today.  Many of these Schneiders became Snyders in America. 

The American spellings are Snyder and Snider.  Some American Snyders are Jewish from the Yiddish name Schnayder.

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America.  There are 57,000 Snyders and 41,000 Schneiders in America today.  Earlier Schneiders from Germany changed their name to the more English-sounding Snyder.  Later Schneider arrivals were more likely to have kept their German name.  Schneider has narrowed the gap on Snyder in America during the 20th century. 

The first Snyders in America were German Palatines from the Rhineland who crossed the Atlantic from Rotterdam - Christian Schneider departing there on the William and Sarah in 1727 and another Christian Schneider leaving on the Allen in 1729.  They like others at that time came to Pennsylvania, although the earlier Christian Schneider then moved onto New Jersey. 

Notable 18th century Snyders from Pennsylvania were:

  • Anton Schneider who came to Pennsylvania from the Rhineland in 1744.  His son Simon Snyder rose from humble origins to become the third Governor of Pennsylvania in 1808.  Simon’s home on North Market Street at Selinsgrove in Pennsylvania still stands.  Snyder county in Pennsylvania was named in his honor.
  • John Peter Snyder who arrived in the late 1740’s also from the Rhineland (his brother Nicholas following him in 1755).  Peter married in America and bought land in farm in Franklin county, Pennsylvania.  Jacob Snyder, born there, headed north to farm in Waterloo township, Ontario around 1815.  His lineage was recounted in Lucille Heckman’s 1991 book The Jacob Snyder Family History.
  • and George Snyder, born in Bucks county Pennsylvania in 1780, who moved to Paris, Kentucky as a young man where he earned his living as a silversmith and clockmaker.  Around 1820 he is credited for having invented the first American-made fishing reel.
Snyders were also to be found in Maryland and Virginia at this time.  A Snyder family from Virginia was in Knox (later Whitley) county, Kentucky by 1810.  The line from Frederick Snyder who lived on Wolf Creek was covered in Frank R. Snyder's 1992 book Snyder Family History.

Alonzo Snyder, born in Kentucky, came south in the late 1830's to speculate on land in Louisiana.  His initial investments paid off and he became a successful planter and lawyer, one who was particularly adept in handling bankrupted estates in the Mississippi Delta.  His family remained prominent in the affairs of Tensas parish in NE Louisiana for the balance of the century.

Some Snyders in America are Jewish.  Daniel Snyder, for instance, came from a Jewish family in Maryland.  He made his money in direct marketing and is the current owner of the Washington Redskins football team.

Canada.  In Canada the Snider spelling has been more common than Snyder.  Early arrivals were those who crossed the border from America:
  • the Snyders who came to Upper Canada (Ontario) included Adam Snyder to Gainesborough township in 1793 and Jacob Snyder to Waterloo township in 1815.  David Snider arrived with his family in 1819 and they made their home in Trafalgar township.  His place became known as Snider's Corners. 
  • then there were Loyalists like Martin Snider who had received a land grant from the British Government in New Brunswick.  He farmed there from 1794 until 1811 when he moved to York, Ontario.  He has a large number of descendants in Canada. 
These Snyders/Sniders could all be traced back to Schneider immigrants into Pennsylvania in the first half of the 18th century.  They tended to settle in Canada in the same tight Mennonite communities that they had formed in Pennsylvania.

Elias Snider, from the Snyders in Waterloo county, took over the family gristmill in the 1860's and invested in rollers from Europe to produce a better grade of flour that was marketed widely throughout Canada.   He later became a prominent local politician.
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If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

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Simon Snyder was the third Governor of Pennsylvania, serving three terms from 1808 to 1817.
George Snyder
is credited with having invented the first American-made fishing reel in 1820.
Duke Snider
, nicknamed “the Duke of Flatbush,” was a popular outfielder with the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team of the 1950’s.
Gary Snyder
is remembered as a West Coast poet associated with the Beat Generation.

Select Snyders/Sniders
  • 67,000 in America (most numerous in Pennsylvania) 
  • 15,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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