updated 7.8.2010 - see PS
My daughter and I recently saved a pile of over 100 old books from ending up in landfill, and in one of them, a 1916 edition of George Meredith, we found the name Doris M. Siepmann stamped and signed, with the additional information "from Dad". As I also have distant ancestors by the name of Siepmann, I pricked up my ears and consulted the 1901 UK census re. who these people were and where they came from.
Sure enough, the whole family is there, and "Dad" turns out to be Otto Siepmann (1861-1947), a pioneer of foreign language teaching in the UK (I'm sure it's not his fault that this field is still in less than perfect condition!). He taught at a private school near Bristol, sat on various boards, and wrote and edited numerous language teaching books including a whole series that bears his name (search his name at amazon.co.uk, you'll be surprised). He has a quite detailed entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
This entry tells us that Otto Siepmann was born at Waldbröl, near Cologne, and that he "was the eldest of the nine surviving children of August Siepmann (1835–1908), insurance broker, and his wife, Wilhelmine Henriette Hasenbach (1836–1891). The Lutheran Siepmann family came from a long line of wealthy landowning Rhineland farmers."
While the name Siepmann is quite widespread today, its geographic distribution clearly points to a single origin in the Ruhr area, around Dortmund. That is precisely the area where my ancestor of that name, Anna Siepmann, resided in the 18th century. Her son, Georg Wilhelm Düselmann, was born there in 1757.
I am hoping that by following back the "long line" of Siepmann ancestors of Otto, I may find out something of interest to Anna. (They must be related, they're both palindromic!)
So if anybody out there knows anything about any Siepmann family in the 19th or 18th century, I'd be interested to hear from them.
And isn't it amazing what an inscription in a random old book from a rubbish skip can teach us ?
PS (7.8.2010): Reading an article about the elusive founders of the Aldi empire, Karl and Theo Albrecht (the latter died a week or two ago), I found out that their mother was called Anna Siepmann as well, before she married Karl Albrecht senior, and she's from the right kind of area too, just some 170 years younger than my eponymous ancestor. However, as the Albrechts are famous for keeping their lives extremely private, this isn't going to help much, unless one of their descendants is into family history and finds this ...