The vast majority of Fisk’s and Fiske’s came to America from England. Fiske’s from the Symond of Laxfield line were the first to arrive, settling in Massachusetts in the 1620’s. Other Fisk and Fiske lines arrived later from Canada, Sweden, Germany, Norway, and a few other countries in the great immigration of the 1800’s and early 1900’s. We know there were at least a few early Scandinavian immigrants. Immigrants from Sweden established the New Sweden colony at the mouth of the Delaware River in the 1630’s.A census taken of the New Sweden colony in 1686 shows Johan Fisk as one of the early immigrants. Records show he had a son, Casper, b. 4-Feb-1651 in the New Sweden colony. Those Fisk’s who came through Ellis Island (1892 – 1924) were primarily from Canada, but if one excludes Canada and compares only immigrants from England to those arriving from Scandinavia, the numbers indicate one Scandinavian arrived for every two persons from England. When one examines the name Fiske, the Ellis Island records show slightly more Scandinavians (primarily Norwegians) arriving than English. The 1850 U.S. Census shows many Fisk’s and Fiske’s whose parents’ were born in countries other than England. The early passenger lists of ships coming into New York and Baltimore show several Fisk/e’s arriving before 1900. The FFA is interested in hearing from researchers whose Fisk or Fiske ancestors came to America from any Scandinavian country.
Why haven’t the Nordic lines been better publicized? There are several possibilities: (1) The Symond of Laxfield lines were well documented in early Puritan records as well as in several published genealogies, including the large volume Fisk and Fiske Family by Frederick Clifton Pierce, published in Chicago in 1896. He connected some 2000+ Fisk’s and Fiske’s to the Symond of Laxfield line. It quickly became THE BOOK. The book is filled with numerous errors, including many cases where people were linked indiscriminately to the Laxfield line. Many people who lightly researched their Fisk or Fiske lines came across Pierce’s book and simply accepted their lineage as fact. Pierce wrote several genealogies, so there is the distinct possibility he simply “plugged-in” Fisk and Fiske lines he couldn’t identify in order to give buyers of his book a long and noble family history. (2) The Scandinavians didn’t have the luxury of being fluent in English; therefore, much of their information doesn’t surface until we begin to examine early immigration and U.S. Census records. (3) The Scandinavians had a different system of family names; for example the surname Johnson would mean John’s son, etc.
The line descending from Symond Fiske of Laxfield came to America for religious reasons. Many of them were or became ministers. Early records are replete with Fiskes serving in various positions of civic responsibility. According to John Fiske, the American historian, “The Fiske family was a pure New England Puritan type. It was descended in unbroken lineage for a period of over four hundred years from Simon Fiske… In the sixteenth century the Fiskes were considered very daring and troublesome heretics. John Noyes of Laxfield was burned alive in 1557, by order of ‘Bloody Mary’; and Foxe in his ‘Booke of Martyres,’ mentions that Nicholas Fiske, Noyes brother-in-law, visited him in prison. Cotton Mather, in his ‘Magnalia,’ has anecdotes of how these heretics were persecuted. Robert Fiske, fifth in descent, fled during the persecutions to the Continent (possibly to Geneva), as that was the resort of the Suffolk Protestants of that time), but after the accession of Elizabeth, he returned and settled at St. James, South Elmham, Suffolk.”
Before his flight, he married Sybil Gold. Sybil’s sister, Isabella Phillips, was confined in Norwich Castle and escaped death only by the intervention of her brothers, who had powerful friends.