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Which surname to research? (Germany)

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  • Which surname to research? (Germany)

    I have a German g.g.grandmother. Her first name was Lydia, but her surname varies from Seifert to Siffert to Saffron. From the 1871 uk census, she was born in Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony, Germany around 1847. She first appears in England in 1865, when her daughter is born.
    I have never tried to research German records, so I’m looking for any tips (I’m in UK) and also which variation of surname should I focus on? TIA

  • #2
    Having a quick google, it doesn't appear leipzig records are online. This means you'd have to visit the city to do the research, hire a researcher or find a volunteer group that could assist. Though familysearch has some saxony records.

    I would say Seiffert is probably the name, which could also be french in origin. Do you have a marriage record for her father's name? Or was she already married when she came to england? Any other potential relatives you know of? Naturalisation record.

    Bear in mind she may not have been from leipzig, it may have been the largest city in the area. Or perhaps just one the enumerator had heard of. Saxony is in the bottom left corner of germany, sharing a border with poland and czechia.


    • #3
      Thank you for your reply and the information on Saxony. I do not have a birth or first marriage certificate for her. I have her childrens’ birth certificates and her second marriage certificate. This gives her father’s name as Frederick Saffron, deceased, occupation Goldsmith. I have found no trace of him in England, so I believe she probably married her first husband in Germany and then came here. Her first husband was English, from Devon.
      I would love to know more about her and any other family in Germany, but I don’t have funds to hire a researcher. I’ve tried looking on family search but found their site quite confusing. I also looked at TNA naturalisation records without success.


      • #4
        If you can find a Saxony related genealogy or volunteer group you can ask for help with them.

        Google Saxony genealogy and take a look at familysearch's page. They would have links to archives and perhaps such a group that could help. Perhaps there could be useful links?

        Unfortunately Germany and former German territories are not well covered online. So if you can't get someone to go to the archives, you'd have to wait for records to come online- which is a long wait.

        Even if you contacted a genealogist asking for advice, that could be useful? I asked a researcher to double check what i had to see if i was on the right track and he gave me great advice, this was for brandenburg.


        • #5
          Would you post everything you have on your great grandmother? Perhaps we can spot something to assist?


          • #6
            Thanks for your answers, I will have another look at family search, I didn’t get on very well with it before.
            My great great grandmother was Lydia Siffert/Seifert/Saffron.
            She first appears on the birth certificate for Clara Agnes Brook Sanders, b Devon 1865.
            Her husband was Joseph Brook Sanders, also born in Devon in 1836.
            I say husband, but I have no marriage certificate for them.
            Joseph grew up at Leat Mill, Lifton, with many siblings.
            He is missing from 1861 census. I have come to the conclusion that he was abroad at the time, and met and married Lydia in Germany. This is just based on the most likely scenario, but I have nothing to back it up.
            I have done a lot of research into Joseph, he is a complex character.
            Anyway, in 1867, they are living in Fulham and their son, also Joseph Brook Sanders is born.
            In 1871 census they are still there and Joseph snr is a master carpenter. Lydia states she was born in Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony, Germany.
            In 1875 my great grandmother, Lydia Brook Sanders was born in Fulham.
            By 1881, Lydia and Lydia jnr are living in Mile End, London and she is a machinist. Lydia says she is a widow, born in Brazil and a naturalised citizen.
            However, Joseph snr wasn’t dead, he had been declared bankrupt and there are records of him applying for a passport in Brazil in 1890. I have no idea what their link was to Brazil, a lot of his family emigrated to Canada in the 1880s so it’s curious that he didn’t. Even his teenage son went out there with Joseph’s sister.
            So Lydia went from a house in Fulham, with a servant, in 1871, to a room in Mile End by 1881. And along the way went from German to Brazilian.
            The marriage certificates of both daughters say their father is deceased.
            In 1895, Lydia remarries, to William Whetstone. It is here that her father’s name is given as Frederick Saffron, decd, goldsmith.
            She died in 1898, age given as 50.
            Sorry for so much info, it’s a complicated story. Maybe you can see something I’m missing?
            I spent years searching for Joseph snr and jnr.
            Lydia jnr and her sister Clara were more straightforward and I have a lot on them.
            Now my attention is on Lydia snr, but I’m getting nowhere so far.
            Thank-you for your help.
            Last edited by darannon; 20-10-23, 11:18.


            • #7
              Where is she in 1891? What does it say for birthplace? I wouldn't rule out brazil tbh, there was quite a bit of german emmigration there in 19th century.


              • #8
                In 1891 she is still living in Mile End, says born in London. I don’t think I will ever get to the bottom of it. Her husband was born and raised in Devon. She doesn’t appear until 1865, when their daughter is born. She is on three census returns, born Germany, born Brazil, born London. Her husband disappears sometime in the late 1870s after going bankrupt. She claims to be a widow, but he resurfaces in Brazil. At some point he is also in Freemason records. They are my biggest brick wall, and one I return to every few years.


                • #9
                  By any chance have you done DNA? If not i'd suggest doing it. It's possible lydia's family may have emmigrated too, in which case they may know about her.


                  • #10
                    I have taken a DNA test on Ancestry. I received one distant cousin match through Lydia, this was over a year ago. I have written to this person twice, but they haven’t answered. I can see that my messages have been read, so I don’t feel comfortable writing again. I kept both messages light and friendly, just asking if they would like to exchange info. Hopefully someone else will crop up as a match one day.
                    Thanks for your replies.