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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

Where did the Scottish Swain family come from? What is the Scottish Swain family crest and coat of arms? When did the Swain family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Swain family history?

The story of the Swain family stretches back through time to the Viking settlers who populated the rugged shores of Scotland in the Medieval era. The name Swain was derived from the Old English personal name Swein, which was originally derived from the Old Norse name Sveinn. This was one of the most common Scandinavian names in medieval Britain.


Spelling variations are extremely common among Scottish names dating from this era because the arts of spelling and translation were not yet standardized. Spelling was done by sound, and translation from Gaelic to English was generally quite careless. In different records, Swain has been spelled Swan, Swann, Swanner, Swani, Swayne, Swein, Sweing, Sweyn and many more.

First found in Lanarkshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Lannraig) a former county in the central Strathclyde region of Scotland, now divided into the Council Areas of North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, and the City of Glasgow, from very early times.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Swain research. Another 405 words(29 lines of text) covering the years 1100, 1100, 1214, 1250, 1499, 1521, 1585, 1690 and 1680 are included under the topic Early Swain History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 73 words(5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Swain Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Swain family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 127 words(9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Those who made the voyage were greeted with ample opportunity to acquire land and a political climate far away from the oppressive monarchy of the old country. They settled along the east coast of what would become Canada and the United States. In the American War of Independence, those who remained loyal to England traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In this century, many Scots living in North America have begun to recover their rich heritage through festivals, highland games, and Clan societies. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name Swain:

Swain Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Jeremy Swain, who arrived in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1638
  • Richard Swain, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1638
  • Francis Swain, who landed in New England in 1645
  • James Swain, aged 21, arrived in Jamaica in 1684
  • Robert Swain, who landed in New England in 1684

Swain Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • John Swain, who landed in Nantucket, Massachusetts in 1703
  • Eleanor Swain, who arrived in Virginia in 1715
  • William Swain, who landed in America in 1760-1763

Swain Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Charles Swain, who landed in Mississippi in 1842
  • John, Swain, who landed in Mississippi in 1842
  • James H Swain, who landed in Mississippi in 1842
  • Isaac Swain, who arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1850
  • J M Swain, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851


  • Dominique Ariane Swain (b. 1980), American film actress
  • Louisa Ann Swain (1801-1880), the first woman to vote in a general election in the United States
  • Brett Andrew Swain (b. 1985), American NFL football wide receiver
  • David Lowry Swain (1801-1868), American politician, 26th Governor of North Carolina (1832 to 1835)
  • Mack Swain (1876-1935), American actor and vaudevillian
  • Bennie S. Swain (1933-2008), American professional NBA basketball player
  • James Swain (b. 1956), American crime fiction author
  • Richard Swain (b. 1975), New Zealand rugby league player
  • Diana Swain (b. 1965), Canadian Gemini Award winning CBC television journalist
  • Gladys Swain (1945-1993), French psychiatrist, best remembered today for her book Le subject de la folie (1977)



  • John Quigg, Jr. (1779-1814), Immigrant 1802, His Ancestors and Descendants by Sylvia Cecilia Fuson Ferguson.
  • Old European Progenitors and Mayflower Ancestors of the A.T.F. and Mary Swain Fuller Family by Jean Fuller Butler.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Fidelitas
Motto Translation: Fidelity.


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  1. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  3. Moody David. Scottish Family History. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0806312688).
  4. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  5. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  6. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  7. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  8. Warner, Philip Warner. Famous Scottish Battles. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996. Print. (ISBN 0-76070-004-4).
  9. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  10. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Scots Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Mordern Application of the Art and Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  11. ...

The Swain Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Swain Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 6 October 2014 at 17:27.

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