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Evidence strongly points to the name Saylor originating in eastern Pennsylvania as an anglo derivative of the germanic name Seiler. Seiler means rope maker.
In the Seiler forum on Genforum I posted the following:
"In the well respected book, German and Swiss Settlements of Pennsylvania by Oscar Kuhns, 1900; it is stated on page 243; 'The Pennsylvania Germans pronounced ei as English a, and thus we find names Sailor (Seiler)'. Is it true that Seiler was pronounced like Sailor, Saylor, Seyler in Pa in the 1700's and early 1800's? How is it pronounced today?"
There were a number of interesting responses that support that Seiler was the phonetic source of the name. The discussion is at this portion of the Seiler site.
As well, there are a number families that can document the transition of the name from Seiler to Saylor often with a number of alternatives along the way. In my case, Sayler and Sailor are present in early family records.
Is Saylor a common name?
A number of emigrants came to the shores of America from 1700 onward bearing a surname that over time became Saylor and its phonetic equivalents. They came from the Palatine area of the Rhine River in Germany and up into Switzerland. Seiler is a common modern Swiss name and is the root name. The US Census Bureau reports the rank of the surnames below for the 2000 census.
Saylor - 2146th most common surname.
Seiler - 4216 "
Sayler - 11356 "
Sailer - 12470 "
Sailor - 12538 "
Seyler - 13508 "
Sailors - 17917 "
It is odd that the spelling Saylor is totally absent in the very early records but the other spellings are all present and yet Saylor later became the most prevalent form. Tailor became Taylor and maybe this surname followed the same path to being anglicized.
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