European Beginnings

      The Shryock family is descended from western European ancestors. Since the Shryock family was established on the North American continent over 250 years ago there are few known facts about the connection to these European ancestors. It is known that the last European home for the Shryock ancestors was in northern Prussia (now West Germany). However, it is not known for sure where the origins of the Shryock family lie.

      There are two general schools of thought as to the national origins of the earliest ancestors of the Shryock family. Although they both agree that the family was last native to the northern region of Prussia, they disagree about the origin of the family. These two schools of thought are:

  1. The Shryock family ancestors were descended from Dutch nobility. These early ancestors, and subsequently all of the Shryock family have the right to bear the coat of arms earned in battle by Alarick Schreek, a Dutchman listed as having participated in the first Crusade (1096 a.d. - 1099 a.d.).
  2. The Shryock family is descended from common Prussian people, native to the northern regions of Germany.

      It is likely that no one will ever be able to totally prove or disprove either of these ideas. However, the Supreme Council of Nobility of the Dutch Government c cannot find any evidence that would link the Shryock family to Dutch nobility. Even though some researchers explain this away as insignificant because the family's migration to Prussia from The Netherlands would have effectively eliminated most trails of such a connection, it seems very unlikely that such claims are true. In order that the details of both of these possibilities remain intact, they are both presented in the following text. The reader should be warned, however that there is little supporting evidence for the belief that the Shryock family is descended from Dutch nobility of the First Crusade.

Dutch Nobility

      Alarick Schreek is listed among those participants in the First Crusade (1096 a.d. - 1099 a.d.) from the region now known as The Netherlands. His valor and courage in battle earned for him the right to bear a coat of arms (rendering and description on following pages). He was likely awarded a feudal barony for his service in the Crusades. He and his descendants settled in the south-central portion of what is now The Netherlands. The Van Schriek family lived in the town of s'Hertogenbosch (Bois-le-Duc in French, a common presentation), which is about 50 miles southeast of Amsterdam. The Dutch government has verified the existence of this family in the Dutch provinces of Overijessel and Gelderland and in the neighboring part of Germany in the 16th and 17th centuries.

      The descendants of Alarick Schreek are undocumented until approximately 1545. According to the Compendium of American Genealogy the first known male ancestor in this line of the Dutch family of Van Schneck is Baron Wilhelm Friedrick Van Schrieck (1545 a.d. - l583 a.d.) He supposedly lived in Bois-le-Duc. His son, Karl Frederick Van Schrieck (1580 a.d. - 1630 a.d.) also bore the title of baron.

      The third ancestor in this line is Jarick Van Schrieck (1610 a.d. . 1685 a.d) He left Bois-le-Duc in The Netherlands and moved to Hanover in the northern part of the Kingdom of Prussia called the Upper Palatinate (in the western portion of united Germany) Since he most likely left his homeland only after reaching manhood, he most likely did not leave The Netherlands for Prussia before 1630. His son Friedrick von Schrieck was born in Hanover in 1668. It seems likely that Jarrick Hans Van Schrieck migrated between 1630 and 1668. Since he is never referred to as carrying the title of baron as he would have had the blood right to do, we can only assume that he went to Prussia in his early adulthood. Having left all of their claims to nobility in their homeland, neither Jarick Hans Van Schrieck nor his son Friedrick von Schrieck (1668 a.d. - 1734 a.d.) carried the title of baron.

      The reasons for Jarick Hans Van Schrieck’s migration to Prussia are not clear. It has been suggested that they left out of practical necessity in the wake of The Thirty Years War. This was a conflict that grew out of the religious differences between the Protestant German princes and the Catholic Hapsburgs. Unfortunately the Duchy of Brabant (the portion of The Netherlands in which the Van Schrieck family resided) was literally in the midst of the worst of the fighting and destruction of the war. One can only guess that their move was an escape from the war.

      Friedrick von Schrieck, the son of Jarick Van Schrieck and the first of the Prussian/German line supposedly married Hildegard von Stuben (1682 a.d - 1739 a.d.) of Heindrich. Three sons of Friedrick and Hildegard von Schrieck, along with the wife and daughter of one comprised the brave group of our ancestor that left their home in Hanover and came to the American colonies in 1733.

      A summary of this line is as follows:

Baron Wilhelm Friedrick Van Schrieck 1545 -1583 (died in Bois-le-Duc - Netherlands)
Baron Karl Friedrick Van Schrieck 1580 -1630 (died in Bois-le-Duc - Netherlands
Jarick Hans Van Schrieck 1610 -1685 (born in Bois-le-Duc, died in
                                Hanover, in Prussia)
Friednck von Schrieck 1668 -1734 (born and died in Hanover)

      It is interesting to note that, from numerous sources e it is seen that the last name of this line of ancestors/descendants changes. Supposedly, Van Schrieck was changed to von Schrieck upon migrating to Prussia.

Coat of Arms

Coat of Arms from the book

Commercial rendering from England

      There are two different coats of arms described for the Van Schrieck family by the generally accepted European standard, L'Amorial General.

1         Schrieck ( Van ) - Bois-le-Duc
D'or au sautoir de sable, cantonne de quatre oiseaux du même.
Translation:          Gold with saltier of black, divided into quarters with birds of the same.
2         Schrieck ( Van )
( anciennement van der Schrieck ) - Brab.
( Anoblissement 14 Aeut, 1767 )
D'argent à trois courronnes de laurier de sinople. Device: Virtus lauro coronat.
Translation: ( anciently van der Schrieck ) - Brabant
( Ennoblement 14 August, 1767 )
Silver with three crowns of green laurel.
Motto: Courage is crowned with victory.

      The Compendium of American Genealogy indicates the first of these as that which the Shryock family is able to claim. This is the one that has been generally accepted by both the family in general and by modern genealogists as the true coat of arms of the Shryock family.

Symbolic Description

      The arms were won in war, as shown by the helmet; in the heat of battle, as the visor is down; the color sable, ( black ) signifies prudence and honesty. The saltire is a form of the cross ( St. Andrew's ) and denotes the Crusador, a soldier who helped to plant Christianity in the world by fighting the infidel and the Turk during the period covered by 1095 to 1271 A.D.. The color gold, d'or signifies generosity and elevation of thought. The birds denote that the family migrated from their original home, which was that portion of Central Europe known as the Duchy of Brabant to parts of Germany, notably the kingdoms of Hanover and Prussia, the Rhineland and the Palatinate.

Common Ancestry

      There is really very little known about the Shryock family's German ancestors. The first written reference to a probable Shryock ancestor is found in the Journal for the History of the Upper Rhine by Karlsruhe, 1850. Therein is contained a reference to a Cristan Schrejackh in 1561 a.d. in the village of Stockach, not far north of Lake Constance in Wortemburg. This is the first and last German ancestor known until the three brothers emigrated to North America.


      Although there is currently no firm evidence to either substantiate or deny either of these possibilities, logic seems to suggest that our ancestors were simple common people, not nobility although even such a "logical" case is not without question, One piece of information that is absent is the reason that our ancestors left their homeland and journeyed to a new land. We know very little about the people that made this trip or the circumstances surrounding it. We do know that the three brothers that came to this country could read and write f. Since only half of those making this same trip were literate, this seems to indicate that they were educated beyond the common person. However, if these brothers were indeed descended two generations from nobility whose grandfather bore the title of baron, it would seem that they would have had substantial material wealth to make life comfortable. Why would they leave such a secure and plentiful life for the uncertainties of moving to a new land and culture? It is entirely possible that there was some scandal or embarrassing family matter that prompted their exodus from their homeland. However, no trace of such an event has been uncovered. Considering the reasons behind such an action, it seems that common men would have to sacrifice far less and would stand to gain far more in making such a change.

      One equally puzzling fact remains in that the family name that they adopted upon their arrival in Prussia was von Schrieck. However, the available listings of passengers on the ship Hope in 1773 list the immigrants' names as Schreyack ( Rupp's ) and Schrayack ( Strassburger's ). It does not seem logical that the immigrants would have changed their name prior to leaving their homeland.

      Another equally confusing fact that suggests that the three brothers were, indeed fairly affluent is that it seems as though they paid their own way to the American Colonies. It was common for immigrants to be indentured servants. Since most of them were unable to afford the cost of such a trip and move, they arranged with an employer in the colonies to pay for their passage in return for a set number of years of service upon their arrival. From the records that exist concerning the brothers' early years in this country, it does not seem as though they had to work under such constraints.

This page was last updated: July 31, 2014
© Copyright 2000 - - William M. Shryock, Jr. - All Rights Reserved