McSwain 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 McSwain is Mac Suibhne, which is derived from the word "suibhne," which means "pleasant."

Early Origins of the McSwain family

The surname McSwain 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 McSwain family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McSwain research. Another 69 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1299 and 1310 are included under the topic Early McSwain History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McSwain Spelling Variations

Names from the Middle Ages demonstrate many spelling variations. This is because the recording scribe or church official often decided as to how a person's name was spelt and in what language. Research into the name McSwain revealed many variations, including MacSweeney, MacSweeny, MacSwine, MacSwiney, MacSwyne, MacSwyny, MacWhinney, MacWhinny, MacWhinnie, MacSwiny, McSweeney, Swiney, Swinney and many more.

Early Notables of the McSwain 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 McSwain Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States McSwain migration to the United States +

To escape the religious and political discrimination they experienced primarily at the hands of the English, thousands of Irish left their homeland in the 19th century. These migrants typically settled in communities throughout the East Coast of North America, but also joined the wagon trains moving out to the Midwest. Ironically, when the American War of Independence began, many Irish settlers took the side of England, and at the war's conclusion moved north to Canada. These United Empire Loyalists, were granted land along the St. Lawrence River and the Niagara Peninsula. Other Irish immigrants settled in Newfoundland, the Ottawa Valley, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The greatest influx of Irish immigrants, however, came to North America during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Thousands left Ireland at this time for North America and Australia. Many of those numbers, however, did not live through the long sea passage. These Irish settlers to North America were immediately put to work building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. Irish settlers made an inestimable contribution to the building of the New World. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the Irish name McSwain or a variant listed above, including:

McSwain Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Archibald McSwain, who landed in Virginia in 1776 [1]
  • John McSwain, who landed in Virginia in 1776 [1]
McSwain Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Roderick McSwain, who arrived in Alabama in 1802 [1]
  • Daniel McSwain, aged 32, who arrived in North Carolina in 1812 [1]
  • Finlay McSwain, aged 47, who landed in North Carolina in 1812 [1]
  • Angus McSwain, aged 70, who arrived in North Carolina in 1812 [1]

Contemporary Notables of the name McSwain (post 1700) +

  • Foster McSwain, American benefactor of the McSwain Theatre in 1920, a 560-seat former cinema, and present day theater and music venue
  • William Miller McSwain (b. 1969), American jurist, United States Attorney for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • Rodney "Rod" McSwain (b. 1962), former professional American NFL football cornerback
  • Ginny McSwain (b. 1951), American Emmy Award winning voice actor and voice casting director
  • Peyton McSwain, American Democrat politician, Member of North Carolina State House of Representatives from Cleveland County, 1921-22 [2]
  • John Jackson McSwain (1875-1936), American Democrat politician, U.S. Representative from South Carolina 4th District, 1921-36 [2]
  • Cecil E. McSwain Jr., American Democrat politician, Postmaster at Little Rock, Arkansas, 1961-63 [2]
  • Charlie McSwain (b. 1901), Australian rules footballer


  1. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  2. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 14) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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