Titus Syrach De Vries, the sire of the North American Dutch line, was born in Holland and died in 1688 at Flatbush, Kings Co., NY. He was a Lieutenant in an infantry Company at Midwont (Flatbush, NY) in 1673. According to the “History of Bucks County” by William W. H. Davis (1905), p. 437 “The pioneer ancestor of the Titus family was Titus Syrachs de Vries, who emigrated from Vries, a village of Drenthe, Holland about 1650, and settled on Long Island, living at different periods at Brooklyn, Flatlands and New Utrecht, and owning considerable land.”
He married Jannetji Teunis (Janette) Nyssen, daughter of Teunis Nyssen and Femmetje (Jans), in 1662 at Flatbush, Kings Co., NY. She was born on Mar. 29, 1648 at Heenstede, Netherlands. Her parents had emigrated from Heemstede, North Holland in 1651. Titus De Vries probably descends from the noble DeVries family of Holland.
There has been some conjecture as to why Titus Syrach De Vries changed his surname to Titus. One possibility was explained rather undelicately by Frank H. Titus, author of The Genealogy of the Dutch Family Titus, when he said: "Probably the change of name was the first nature of protective imitation as practised by various forms of animated creatures lower than the humans: Dutch blood was probably not as highly esteemed just after the land had passed from Dutch to English control as it is in our day, and the Britons have never been specially noted for tender consideration of the susceptibilities of those unwise enough to have been born under others' skies." However, a more likely alternative was put forward by Clarence Edwin Titus in his pamphlet, "A Titus Genealogy, The Direct Line of Descent of Titus Syrachs De Vries," when he writes "Under English rule in America it became compulsory to take a permanent surname. Since the Dutch traditionally used the patronymic naming system (identification by the father's given name), the children and descendants of Titus and Jannetje adopted and kept the surname Titus."