In November 1095 AD, Pope Urban II convened the famous Council at Clermont. In addressing the assembled clergy and laity he delivered one of the most celebrated sermons of the Middle Ages, one in which he advocated the First Crusade.

One of the first "company leaders" was Walter the Penniless, who had two knights under his leadership -- Hans von RYKEN, a petty noble of lower Saxony, and Melchior, his cousin who had already settled in Holland. The RYKEN'S were originally a German family of lower Saxony, where they enjoyed a state of allodial independence, at that day regarded as constituting nobility. There they possessed the estate or manor of Rychen, from which they took their name -- then written 'von RYCHEN', indicating its territorial derivation.  Subsequently the name suffered various changes, being found written 'de RYCKE, de RYK, RIECKE', etc. and in America finally assuming its present form of RYKER and RIKER. Hans, who was the lord of the above manor, perished during the Crusade, but Melchior survived to be the progenitor of a strong and worthy family that for two centuries held positions of influence as merchant princes in the city of Amsterdam, Holland -- a family later to be known as the RYKERS, who emmigrated to the New World and were among the first settlers in the town of New Amsterdam (present-day New York City) in the area known as the Poor Bowery

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[This page was last updated 04/21/00]