MacSwain History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name MacSwain is Mac Suibhne, which is derived from the word "suibhne," which means "pleasant."
Early Origins of the MacSwain family
The surname MacSwain was first found in County Donegal (Irish: Dún na nGall), northwest Ireland in the province of Ulster, sometimes referred to as County Tyrconnel. The name is derived from Suibhne O'Neill, who was a chieftain in Argyll, Scotland. His descendants migrated to Ireland as gallowglasses (mercenaries) prior to 1267. The three great septs of this name finally established themselves in Tirconnell in 14th century; they were known as MacSweeney Fanad, MacSweeney Banagh, and MacSweeney na dTuath, who were commonly referred to as 'MacSweeney of the Battleaxes.' They later became attached to the MacCarthys in the south and acquired their own territories and castles in Muskerry in County Cork.
Early History of the MacSwain family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacSwain research. Another 69 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1299 and 1310 are included under the topic Early MacSwain History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
MacSwain Spelling Variations
Within the archives researched, many different spelling variations of the surname MacSwain were found. These included One reason for the many variations is that scribes and church officials often spelled an individual's name as it sounded. This imprecise method often led to many versions. MacSweeney, MacSweeny, MacSwine, MacSwiney, MacSwyne, MacSwyny, MacWhinney, MacWhinny, MacWhinnie, MacSwiny, McSweeney, Swiney, Swinney and many more.
Early Notables of the MacSwain family (pre 1700)
Prominent amongst the family at this time was John MacSween, a 13th-14th century nobleman who lost his lands in Scotland after the defeat of the forces and death of Alexander Og MacDonald, Lord of Islay in 1299. In...
Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacSwain Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
MacSwain migration to the United States +
During the 19th century thousands of impoverished Irish families made the long journey to British North America and the United States. These people were leaving a land that had become beset with poverty, lack of opportunity, and hunger. In North America, they hoped to find land, work, and political and religious freedoms. Although the majority of the immigrants that survived the long sea passage did make these discoveries, it was not without much perseverance and hard work: by the mid-19th century land suitable for agriculture was short supply, especially in British North America, in the east; the work available was generally low paying and physically taxing construction or factory work; and the English stereotypes concerning the Irish, although less frequent and vehement, were, nevertheless, present in the land of freedom, liberty, and equality for all men. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. Research into passenger and immigration lists has brought forth evidence of the early members of the MacSwain family in North America:
MacSwain Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
- A. Mac Swain, aged 33, who arrived in New York in 1922 aboard the ship "Suffolk" from Wellington, New Zealand 
Contemporary Notables of the name MacSwain (post 1700) +
- Steve MacSwain, American NHL ice hockey player, drafted in the 1986 NHL Supplemental Draft
Related Stories +
- ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JNLB-WPL : 6 December 2014), A. Mac Swain, 10 Aug 1922; citing departure port Wellington, New Zealand, arrival port New York, ship name Suffolk, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).