THE PHOTO...Ship's Captain from the 1700's

THE KNOWN... The family connection starts with Anna Stewart Heysham. Anna married Roy Washington Schweiker and they had two daughters, Shirley Jeanne Schweiker, mother of four of the five cousins who inspired this website, and Ann Stewart Schweiker.

The Heysham surname (and its variants such as Hissem) has been traced to the 12 th century. There is a quite remarkable website on the Hissem-Montague Family. It has been well documented and compiled by a Hissem descendant, and posted on the web. Click here to get to the William Heysham Line (of NYC and Phila). The site's Foreward states: "... as I followed the history of our family I was led, despite my struggles, to a martyr, a saint, a patriot and a hero; lords & ladies, and a knight on horseback; a railroad tycoon and a steamboat captain; ocean mariners who sailed the tall ships and to the men who owned them; two Major Generals in two countries armies; three members of Parliament; two medical researchers of note; a President's son-in-law; to a manager of the U.S. Mint, a Yukon gold miner, and a Civil War gold-bricker." Genealogical research is anything but boring!

The website further states: "While it may eventually become many things, this site is currently dedicated to the genealogy of the Hissem family, but includes references to all the families of Haysham, Heysham, Hysham, Heesham, Haysom, Hysom, Hesam, Hesom, Hessam, Hissam, Hissem, Hissim and Hissom of England, India, the West Indies, Canada, Australia and America, as well as those of Grenet, Gernet, Garnet, Garnett, Montague, Wells, Six, Sixt, Offerman, and Dengler." An "Evolution of Names" page includes and explanation of the evolution of the family name over time from Hessam to Heysham to Hissem. The site includes not only Heysham families' and historical information but also photographs, diagrams and maps.

Heysham ancestry has been traced back hundreds of years to the county of Lancashire, England and the coastal town of Heysham, information also included in Wikipedia, the internet encyclopedia. This source also gives this surname's pronunciation as HEE-sham. The town is one of the oldest settlements in this part of England, dating from early Saxon times. In the Domesday Book (a record of the great survey of England completed in 1086 and executed for William 1 of England - William the Conqueror), the town has the name "Hessam." Today it's a ferry port with services to the Isle of Man and Ireland and is the site of two nuclear power plants. There is also an estate in Lancashire, left by the Heysham family, the proceeds of which are distributed each year to the poor.

The Hissem-Montague website traces the Hissem family back over three hundred years to its first American forebear, John Heesom, born between 1640 and 1660 in England, who settled in the Quaker colony of Burlington, West Jersey about 1677. At about the same time Giles and William Heysham set up as sugar merchants on the Caribbean island of Barbados, in alliance with their brother, Robert, in London. This was a temporary settlement since they returned to England in about 1700. In the 1740's their nephews, Thomas, William and Christopher Heysham, merchant ship-captains, settled in New York City. Captain William Heysham is Anna Stewart's great great great grandfather and was born in 1720 in Lancaster, England and died in Philadelphia in 1797.

In addition to his son, Robert Heysham's descendants, William also established the branch lines of Gibbon's and Sayres. These other lines are interesting because so many achieved some degree of fame. William was a leading citizen of Philadelphia and a figure of some importance in the Revolutionary War. His great-grandson Robert Heysham Sayre, through his daughter Ann, was one of the richest men in the country, being both chief engineer of the Lehigh Valley railroad and a founder and managing director of the Bethlehem Steel company. Descendents of William's daughter Mary include one of the leading generals of the Civil War, John Gibbon, as well as a long line of noted physicians, culminating in the inventor of the first heart-lung bypass machine, John Heysham Gibbon.

AND THE UNKNOWN...Because of all the information on comprehensive websites such as The Hissem-Montague Family, the little that is left unknown consists mainly of definitive proof of a few hypotheses and conclusions reached based on logical assumptions. A genealogist's challenge is never ending.


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