The Passwater ancestry is thought to be English, rather than Dutch or German.
There was one genealogist (Cora Paswater in her 1954 book "History of the Paswater family" -- who researched the ancestry of W. Zael Passwater and his wife Anna Margaret "Peggy" Kime/Keim) who believed them to be German based on "History of Guilford County, NC (1903)" which mentions that the original settlers were from three nations: the Scotch-Irish, the German exiles from the Palatine, and English Quakers; the Keims were part of the German exiles group, but there was no mention of the Passwaters in this group, and indeed, no record of the Passwaters ever living in Guilford. Moreover, genealogist Renia of Winchester, England (of the Soc. Medieval) examined the Palatine passenger lists and while she found Keims, she found no name similar to Passwater.
Additonally, there has never been an instance of finding a more German variation of the name: Paswasser. It was hypothesized by some genealogists that the Paswater coat of arms states that two coats of arms were joined together through marriage, Pas and Water, making the name Paswater so is impaled. It was thought by these genealogists that Pas could be Dutch, and Wasser German. However, there was also a note that this Paswater coat of arms was available through "The Shops Chandler" in Wilmington, VT, and is not necessarily a historical reference -- note that there are many such heraldry stores. And, of course, "water" is an English version, and there are coats of arms in Britain too.
On the other hand, there is evidence that they are of English heritage:
1. In "Maxell History and Genealogy (1916)" in a paragraph on Paswater-Cottingham, there is the statement "The Paswaters were an old Colonial family of Maryland, of English descent."
On Oct. 31, 1869 in Noblesville [Indiana], Mr. George Teter was married to Mary Alice Paswater, who was born Feb. 20, 1850, in Noblesville, daughter of Andrew and Caroline (Cottingham) Paswater. To Mr. and Mrs. Teter were born the following children: (1) Edward Thomas, born in Noblesville, Feb. 5, 1871, graduated from high school at Tipton, and then reading law with R. B. beauchamp, was admitted to the bar at the age of 19, and began practicing at Tipton, where he became deputy prosecuting attorney. He now resides in Rensselaer, Ind. On. Oct. 14, 1890, he wa married to Mery [sic] Cleveland, and to them were born two sons, Eugene Austin, born in Tipton, July 23, 1892, and Paul Edmiston, born in Boulder, Colo., Jan. 4, 1896. (2) Lora, born Nov. 3, 1872, married Dec. 27, 1893, J. W. Hubbard, a lawyer by profession, but now teaching in the State Normal school at Duluth, Minn. They have two children, Helen, born Oct. 22, 1894, in South Bend, Ind., and Alice, born Oct. 4, in Tipton. (3) Caroline, born at Bangor, Iowa, Feb. 3, 1878, is a graduate from the Indianapolis Business College, and married, Aug. 1, 1901, Ettie Emerson, of Indianapolis. ...
The Paswaters were an old Colonial family of Maryland, of English descent. Richard Paswater, father of Andrew, was a pioneer farmer and stock raiser and trader of Connersville, Indiana, where he cleared up a farm in the woods. He died in middle life in Harrison County, when on his way home from a trip to New Orleans. He was twice married, his first wife, a Coats, whom he married in Maryland, bore him children -- Maria, Nancy, Elizabeth and Andrew -- and his second wife, a widow McCormick, bore him a daughter, Sallie. Andrew Paswater, father of Mrs. Teter, was born in Connersville in 1828, and received a good education, later learning the trade of merchant tailoring. On April 3, 1849, in Noblesville, he married Caroline Cottingham, born June 5, 1830, in Hamilton County, Ind., daughter of Joshua and Elizabeth (Cowan) Cottingham, and he died two years later, leaving one daughter, Mary Alice. ...
2. In "The Good Old Times in McLean County, Illinois (1874 by Dr. Duis)", a book of 216 sketches of old settlers, it mentioned that Purnel Passwaters was born in 1782 in Sussex County, DE, and that his father was Englishman Richard Passwaters and his mother of Dutch descent. The Passwater family is on pages 779-784. (online index, online book) Note that the statement "was an Englishman" has been interpreted by some genealogists to mean he was actually born in England and not just of English descent; this is incorrect, as Richard was definitely born in America. It is noteworthy that these references were from separate branches of the family: Indiana and Illinois.
THE PASSWATERS FAMILY.
PURNEL PASSWATERS, Sr
Purnel Passwaters was born in 1782, in Sussex County, Delaware. His father, Richard Passwaters, was an Englishman, and his mother was of Dutch descent. He was a man of limited education and a farmer. In about the year 1806, he married Comfort Short, a lady who was partly of Welch descent. In 1811 he moved to Monongehela County, Virginia. During the war of 1812 he enlisted as a soldier, but never was called into the field. In about the year 1814, Mr. Passwaters went back to the State of Delaware on business, traveling on horseback. "While crossing the Allegheny Mountains, he was once traveling in the night, and was followed by a panther for seven miles. The animal often came close to him and seemed inclined to spring, but Mr. Passwaters would jump from his horse and throw stones at it. It followed him until he came near a tavern, and then it disappeared in the woods.
In 1816, Mr. Passwaters emigrated to Hamilton County, Ohio, where he followed farming. In the fall of 1829, he started with his family from Hamilton County, Ohio, for Illinois. When he reached Hamilton County, Indiana, the cold weather set in, and he was obliged to stop. In the following spring he came to what was then Tazewell, but is now McLean, County, Illinois. He came, during a part of his journey, in company with Lieutenant Governor Moore. When he arrived here he rented a small piece of land, and lived in a little cabin on the place now occupied by his son, Enoch Passwaters. He commenced farming, and steadily followed it until the day of his death, which occurred in February, 1852. He and his wife were both consistent members of the Methodist Church. Mrs. Passwaters died in 1844.
Mr. Passwaters had twelve children, of whom five are now living.
Mrs. Levina Burdsell wife of Jefferson Burdsell, lives in Randolph's Grove.
Richard Passwaters lives in Randolph's Grove.
Purnel Passwaters, Jr., lives with his brother Enoch at the old homestead.
Enoch J. Passwaters lives at the old homestead at Randolph's Grove.
Clement Passwaters lives in Randolph's Grove.
Richard Passwaters was born November 3, 1812, in Monongehela County, Virginia. In 1816 he came with his father's family to Hamilton County, Ohio. They moved in a flatboat from Wheeling, Virginia, to the landing at North Bend, in sight of General Harrison's house. There young Richard was put to work as soon as he became possessed of muscle sufficient to make his work of any value. He worked during summers and went to school winters. He started for Illinois with his father's family in the fall of 1829, but did not arrive at his destination until the spring of 1830. He worked for his father on a farm until his marriage, which important event occurred February 4, 1836. His bride was Miss Sina Misner, a step-daughter of Governor Moore. They were married by Cheney Thomas, a justice of the peace. Mr. Passwaters then began farming on the place where he now lives, at Randolph's Grove. When the Black Hawk war broke out, Mr. Passwaters volunteered as a soldier, but on his march to the Rock River country was taken sick near where Lexington now is, and was unable to continue his march. He returned home, but afterwards volunteered as a ranger for sixty days to guard the frontier. During the fall after the war he made a visit to Ohio with his companions, Elias Gibbs and Garrett Misner, but had no particular adventure. Mr. Passwaters has been much of a hunter. He once had a run of fifteen miles after a gray wolf, which had been eating Jesse Funk's pigs, and he killed it with a stirrup. The wolf died game and showed fight to the last.
Mr. Passwaters had a severe experience during the sudden change of December, 1836. He was returning home on horse- back from his father's house; he had come to the spring branch which empties into the Kickapoo, and there, as his horse refused to take the water, he was obliged to wade up to his waist; but in doing so his horse broke loose, and Mr. Passwaters was obliged to proceed home on foot, a distance of a mile. When he had gone a short distance from the creek the sudden change came on, the cold wind from the west struck him, and before he had proceeded a hundred yards farther, his clothes were frozen on him stiff. He succeded in reaching home, but was sick for a long time afterwards.
Mr. Passwaters has followed farming all of his life. He has often hauled wheat to Chicago, and has had all of the adventures of the pioneers. He has raised a family and supported it well by his labor and foresight. He has had twelve children, of which five have lived to be grown.
William Passwaters was in the Ninety-fourth Regiment of Illinois Volunteers, and died at Vicksburg.
Mrs. Amanda Ryburn, wife of Edward Ryburn, lives near her father's house at Randolph's Grove.
Lee Passwaters now lives with Edward Ryburn.
Albert Passwaters lives at home with his father.
Mr. Passwaters is about five feet and eight inches in height, is not heavily built, is a very pleasant gentleman, is very kind-hearted, and must have many friends. He has lately been afflicted with a stroke of paralysis in the left leg, but remains as cheerful as ever. His wife is a lady of fine sense, and their pioneer life lias doubtless been a happy one.
Purnel Passwaters, Jr.
Purnel Passwaters, jr., was born September 12, 1815, in Monongehela County, Virginia. When he was only one year old his father moved to Hamilton County, Ohio. In the fall of 1820 the Passwaters family started for Illinois, but on account of cold weather they wintered over in Indiana. There young Purnel killed his first deer. The Passwaters family reached Randolph's Grove on the sixteenth of May, 1830. In 1833, Purnel began to hunt "right smart." His first excursion was to the Mazon River and to the sandridges between that and the Kankakee. Three hunters went with him, but they found little game, as other hunters had recently preceded them. Mr. Passwaters shot at a badger and broke its fore leg. The animal ran into its hole and was caught, but two men could not pull it out, although they pulled until it seemed that the animal must be torn asunder. They were obliged to kill it or it never could have been taken out.
In 1856, Mr. Passwaters went to Kansas, but had no particular adventure. He saw a great many Indians, and did some trading with them. One Indian was pointed out to him as the son of the celebrated Black Hawk; but if this was the case, old Black Hawk neglected to train up his son in the way he should go, for the young man was drunk.
Mr. Passwaters is about five feet and eight or nine inches high, has a careful, considerate, honest expression on his countenance, has nearly always been successful in hunting, has killed great numbers of deer and turkeys, is a very kind-hearted man and much respected.
Enoch Jones Passwaters.
Enoch Jones Passwaters was born September 15, 1822, in Hamilton County, Ohio. He came with his father's family to Illinois in 1830, as stated in his father's sketch. He has not led a very adventurous life, has hunted deer and wolves as nearly all of the old settlers did. He used to keep greyhounds and fast horses to chase the game. He has often caught two deer out of a gang during a single chase. Only once did he know a deer to show fight, but he killed it with a stirrup while the dogs held it. He remembers an exciting wolf chase when he rode an unshod horse on slippery ground, and came up with the wolf after chasing it for seven miles. After his horse had made many turns, and the wolf had made many dodges, Mr. Passwaters crippled it by running over it, and the dogs came up and finished it.
Mr. Passwaters married, May 19, 1812, Almeda Savage, who died February 12, 1865. He married, September 7, 1871, Mrs. Ann Eliza Atchison. He has been very happy in his domestic life. He is about five feet and six or seven inches in height, has a bright expressive eye, is a pleasant, companionable man, and is industrious and hard working.
Enoch J. Passwaters has had nine children, and Mrs. Passwaters had two children by her first marriage. The children are:
Martha Jane, wife of Tubal Iseminger, lives in Sedgwick County, Kansas.
Ann Maria, wife of Hiram Miller, lives in Randolph's Grove.
Rhoda Comfort, wife of Aaron S. Yanvaley, lives in Sedgwick County, Kansas.
Irvin Purnel, Lucy Alice, Sarah Elizabeth, Mary Lovina, Enoch Halleck and George William Passwaters, live at home. Sarah Gertrude Atchison and Charles Newton Atchison, the children of Mrs. Passwaters by her first marriage, also live in the same household.
Clement Passwaters is the youngest living son of the Passwaters, sr. He was born in Hamilton County, Ohio, March 17, 1825. He is of medium height, and has rather a dark complexion, and is one of the most honored members of the Passwaters family. He was married, June 1, 1848, to Miss Rebecca Yocum, daughter of Jacob Yocum, of Sangamon County, Illinois. He has had a family of seven children, of whom six are living. They are:
Emily Jane, wife of Samuel Miller, lives in Downs township.
Stephen H. Passwaters lives just east of his father's.
William F., Enoch D., James C, and John L. Passwaters, live at home.
3. The names of the Passwater children appear to be English rather than German.
4. The Europeans who settled Maryland's lower shore were almost entirely British subjects. They, and other colonists from Virginia, were enticed to emigrate to Maryland by land grants from the proprietor, Lord Baltimore, who received income from "quitrents." Two rivers influenced settlement patterns in the Wicomico area: the Nanticoke, whose channel is the western border of the county, and the Wicomico, which together with Wicomico Creek, provides about half of the county's southern border.
5. An examination of online records (both current directories and historical records) finds dozens of English Paswater references in England dating back to the 1500s, and none in Holland or Germany.
The only old records found for anyone with the surname of Passwater have been in England. Old English Passwater records (an incomplete list, but rather listings of some records found by Harold Davey):
1. John Paswater m. Elyzabeth Harvye 32 Sep 1565
2. Richard Paswater m. Elizabeth Munsaugh 18 Oct 1602 in Hillingdon
3. John Paswater m. Jone Davis 10 Sep 1615 in Hillingdon
4. William Paswater m. Allice Hilles-Denne 25 May 1618 in Hillingdon
5. William Passewater M. Elizabeth Pennard 17 Nov 1630 in Cowley
6. William Paswater m. Bridget Seterfort 18 Apr 1659 in Uxbridge (in the comments: both of Hillingdon)
7. John Smith m. Debora Paswater 13 Feb 1698, St. George's Chapel, New Windsor, Berkshire, England (see note below)
8. William Passwater m. Sarah Barns 2 Feb 1735 in Hayes
Renia of the Soc. Medieval thought the marriage of Debora Paswater in St. George's Chapel (in Windsor Palace) most interesting. She had thought Debora must have lived in the castle for some reason, perhaps a foreign ambassador's daughter. It does not appear that this is the case. Although it is true that in old and modern times this chapel was used exclusively for royal weddings, for a 50-year period it was not. From 1660 to 1710 St. George's chapel was used by the congregation of St. John's while that church was being extended. The parishioners of St. John's apparently took full advantage of this and during this 50 year period a record number of marriages took place in St. George's, some 900 in total, as many as 3 a day. Many of the marriages were local artisans and tradesmen. Some prominent well-known families from outside the county took advantage of the opportunity as well. (This was reported on the internet by a genealogist who did not name a source.). Furthermore, it should be noted that in the 16th and 17th centuries Windsor had fallen on hard times, and the area was rather decrepit and poverty-stricken, unlike the posh royal dwelling of later times. No finding of Debora Paswater or John Smith could be located to indicate that either one was related to royalty to warrant a "royal wedding" at Windsor Palace.
"Calendars of Huntingdonshire Wills" 1479-1652 Compiled by W.M. Noble, B.A. Rector of Wistow Chapter on Wills and Admin. in the Archdeaconry of Huntingdon, now preserved in the Probate Registry of Peterborough. Transcripts of Wills in Vo. 1-2, 12a-19. pg. 87:
1529 PASWATER, PASSEWATERE, John, Werisley Vol 3, pg. 89
1533 PASWATER, Margaret, buried at Waresley Vol 4, pg.130
1528 PASWATER, Thomas, Eynesbury Vol 3, pg. 45
On Family Search there was a list of 25 Passwaters in the 1600s and 1700s located outside of London. Of particular interest were the 13 references to a Thomas Passwater, as the earliest American Passwater was the Thomas Passwater who bought Castle Haven in Somerset Co., MD circa 1680s (became Wicomico County, MD), father of Jonas (and others), died circa 1690s:
1. Thomas Paswater, christened 12 Nov 1752 St. Sepulchre, London
2. Thomas Paswater, married 18 Dec 1653, Braughing, Hertford, England
3. Thomas Paswater, married, 9 Nov 1654 Braughing, Hertford, England
4. Thomas Paswater, christened 6 Jun 1660 Great Munden, Hertford, England
5. Thomas Passwater, christened 12 Mar 1675, Great Munden, Hertford, England
6. Thomas Paswater, christened 13 Nov 1752 St. Sepulchre, Lond, England
7. Thomas Passwater, christened 20 Mar 1757 Saint Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London, England
8. Thomas Passwater, married 5 Jan 1778 Saint Leonards, Shoreditch. London, England
1. John Paswater m. Elyzabeth Harvye 21 Sep 1565
2. Richard Paswater m. Elizabeth Munsaugh 18 Oct 1602 in Hillingdon
3. John Paswater m. Jone Davis 10 Sep 1615 in Hillingdon
4. William Paswater m. Alice Hilles-Denne 25 May 1618 in Hillingdon
5. William Passewater m. Elizabeth Pennard 17 Nov 1630 in Cowley
6. William Paswater m. Bridget Seterfort 18 Apr 1659 in Uxbridge (both of Hillingdon)
7. William Passwater m. Sarah Barns 2 Feb 1735 in Hayes
It is simple conjecture, but it is possible that the Thomas Passwater who shows up in Old Somerset County, MD in the 1680s/1690s belongs to one of the families from Herford, England. It is noteworthy that the name does not appear in the 18th and 19th centuries, which could mean emigration or only female descendants or no descendants. The best match of these would be the Thomas born in 1660 -- the one born in 1675 would be young to have emigrated by 1691 and buying land by 1694. This is simply a possibility for further research and is pure speculation.
Note: most of these references refer specifically to the MD/DE branch and not the SC/NC branch. In my opinion (Donna Hay, 2009), the Carolinian Passwaters are descended from the Eastern Shore (DelMarVa peninusla) Passwaters; Sarah Maiden Hay (1800-1885) had said the Passwaters (her mother's family) were related to the Passwaters of Rhode Island (thought to be confused with Delaware). Clearly, the family story was not of a direct emigration from Europe to the Carolinas, but from Europe to someplace north of the Mason-Dixon line, and then a branch breaking off to emigrate to the Carolinas. The only other Passwaters in America in the late 1600s early 1700s were the ones in MD/DE -- see references. Genealogist William Perry Hay (1871-1947), who wrote this reference, probably heard it from his aunt Margaret Hay Patterson (1844-1912), Sarah's daughter, rather than from Sarah herself; he became involved in genealogy by 1900, but probably not 1885.
It is thought that all the American Passwaters of the 1700s and 1800s descend from emigrant Thomas Passwater of the 1690s in Old Somerset, MD.