• Important Update: Our New Email Domain

    Please note: We've updated our email domain to familyhistory.email. All our emails will be from this domain.

  • Do you love Genealogy? Why not write for us? we're looking for volunteers to write articles for Family history. Please contact us for further information.

Dyer, Dyet, Diet, Dyatt, or Dewar???

Washougal, WA, USA
United States
My Great Grandmother was born as Helen Drummond in 1800 (baptized 1801) at Old Monkland, Lanarkshire, Scotland if I have the right birth record. Her parents show as Alexander Drummond and Helen Diet on the birth record. I found nine other children who I believe were born to the same couple, and Helen's surname shows as Dyer, Dyet, and Dyett and similar on records.

I did find what I feel is the death record for Helen Drummond, and her maiden name shows as "Dyer" on it. The death record was September 23, 1845 in Airth, Stirlingshire, Scotland, and she was shown as 82 years old at death.

The couple seemed fairly old when they had children, but I think I have the right couple, as they were on the 1841 Scotland Census with a younger Daughter, Elizabeth Drummond. Helen and Alexander both showed as 80 years old on the 1841 census (I realize they rounded their ages for that census). The children I have attributed to Alexander and Helen were born from 1796 to 1818. It's possible there could be other children I don't have records for.

I'd appreciate thoughts about Helen's name. Dyer may be correct, but I've wondered which is correct? The family were traveller's or Gypsies it seems, and they had children in various locations.

When one of the children (Alexander Drummond Jr) had his own family they are on a census with a "Dewar" family, so I wondered if there could have been a family connection there. This was the 1851 Scotland census. Alexander and family are with an Alexr (a cotton weaver), Mary and James Dewar family. Alexander Drummond shows as a basket maker. The next family on the census is a Williamson family. I believe Alexander Drummond's brother, James Drummond and family are with the Williamson family. James is also a basket maker.

By searching, I have seen a number of Drummond/Dewar marriages.

Being in a travelling group, they may not have had a Church marriage, since it seems a lot performed their own marriages within their groups.

Thanks so much!!
One thing I'm curious about? As far as the pronunciation of these names, would there be a similarity with the way the Scots pronounced them?? So, would there be much difference in the pronunciation of Dyer and Dewar??

There seem to have been a lot of Dewar's in Scotland, a few Dyer's.

Would appreciate any thoughts or knowledge about that!!

Thanks so much!!!
Hello Tom,

Not necessarily Gypsies but you often see in census listings occupation listed as 'journeymen' - stonemasons, blacksmiths, weavers, even bakers. Sometimes it also means the head of the family was in the army and posted to various towns around the country.

Sometimes it's impossible to pin down the exact spelling of some names. They are written as heard and then transcribed often with errors. Different members of the same family might spell the name differently. I have a case where one son out of five siblings decided to vary his name by adding one extra letter, Silva became Silvia and that branch has been like that ever since. Names change over time, sometimes with fashion, to drop the 'e' on the end or turn the 'ie' on the end to a 'y' instead. I have some names in my tree with as many as 6 variations. All I do is accept one and note the others.


Thanks so much for the replies!!

The occupations for Alexander Drummond have shown as basket maker, Chapman pedlar, china merchant, and licensed hawker, so they fit the traveller and/or Gypsy traveller profile. This is fairly consistent with my Todd family also, which my Helen Drummond married into. Some of the other Drummond's from the same family who came to Ontario and the US were tinsmiths which also fit the traveller occupation. Apparently, there were different groups of traveller's, so I can't be sure which they belonged to. I think they travelled mostly the Lowland and Border areas.

I have been reading some about different dialects in different areas of Scotland, so I wonder if that would make a difference. It's possible my ancestor's could have been illiterate, so they may not have been aware of what was written down for them. On 6 birth records the name is Dyer, and on 3 others different spellings of Dyet. The death record for Alexander's wife is Dyer. I see very few Dyers and Dyets in Scotland, but she could have been from England.

Thanks again!!
If its any help, by far the largest numbers of Dyers in England are from Cornwall, spreading to Devon and the rest of the UK in the second half of the 19th century. Most of the Australian Dyers originate from 5 siblings who went from the Cornish Mines to the new mines in NSW