From A CONTRIBUTION TO THE HISTORY and GENEALOGY OF THE TYSON & FITZWATER FAMILIES Compiled by Samuel Traquair Tyson, publ. 1922:
"The source from which our Tyson family is descended is somewhat obscure, there being three suppositions offered to account for its origin ; when our ancestor, Reynier Tyson, came to Pennsylvania he spelled his name, or it was spelled for him, in a number of ways, i.e., Thysen, Tisen, Tissen, Tyssen, Teissen and Tyson, the latter being the spelling- to his will and the one adopted by his children; as he undoubtedly came from Crefeld, near the Rhine, or its vicinity, the supposition is that he was of German extraction, but we do not know for how many generations ; research was undertaken some years ago by Rev. Stuart L. Tyson of Princeton, N. J., who is descended from Reynier through his son Henry, with, as he informs me, little success, as, owing to the wars that in former times ravaged the country the records had all been destroyed. He did discover, however, that in the records of the Mennonites between 1701 and 1726 there is mention of the birth of two Tysons, John and Henry, showing that some of the name still remain there.
"The second supposition is that the family was of English origin and that the founder of it on the Rhine had crossed the North Sea to seek asylum at the time of the conquest in 1066, or maybe at some later period ; at the time of the arrival of William, Duke of Normandy and his invaders — William the Conqueror— there was a Baron Gilbert Tyson, lord of Alnwick Castle, in the County of Northumberland, who is said by some writers to have died fighting against the invaders of his country though some writers claim that he fought on the Norman side. The fact remains that the name of Tyson is a very old one in England and still remains to the present time.
"The other alternative is that Reynier's ancestors were of the Waldenses who had been driven from their homes in Piedmont and Dauphinv, or from Ticino or the Ticino Canton of the Veronese Alps in Switzerland by the persecution of the Catholic Popes of the times. It is an historical fact that many of these exiled Waldenses did get as far as Crefeld and, according to the same authority, the name of Tyson is derived from Ticino, the name of the locality whence they are thought to have emigrated."
Additional sources indicate the Cornelius & Reynier Tyson family were Norman French who went to England in 1066, then escaped to Holland because of Catholic persecution, not returning for almost 300 years. This would explain why their books and early records in the American colonies were in Dutch, not English or German.