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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish


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.

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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.


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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.

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

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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.

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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 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 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 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


Swain Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Mary Swain, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Thomas Swain, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750

Swain Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • John Swain, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on September 3rd, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Austraila
  • Levi Swain arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Hooghly" in 1846
  • W.R. Swain arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Isabella Watson" in 1846
  • William Swain, aged 26, arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Nabob"

Swain Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • James Swain, aged 39, a labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1856
  • Lusy Swain, aged 34, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1856
  • Amy Swain, aged 16, a domestic servant, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1856
  • Henry Swain, aged 20, a labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1856
  • Frederick Swain, aged 25, a butcher, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1856


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  • William J. Swain, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Delaware, 1928 (alternate), 1932, 1940 (alternate), 1944 (alternate)
  • William Swain, American politician, Mayor of Pullman, Washington, 1917-18
  • W. C. Swain, American politician, Candidate for Governor of Alabama, 1914
  • Timothy W. Swain, American Republican politician, University of Illinois trustee, 1957-
  • Thomas Swain (d. 1825), American politician, Member of Indiana State House of Representatives, 1820-21
  • Roy V. Swain, American politician, Delegate to New Hampshire State Constitutional Convention from Barrington, 1948; Delegate to New Hampshire State Constitutional Convention from Barrington, 1956
  • Robert Swain, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Illinois, 1868
  • Ray Swain, American Republican politician, Chair of Chatham County Republican Party, 1952
  • Richard O'Dean Swain, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Colorado, 2000; Presidential Elector for Colorado, 2012
  • R. E. Swain, American politician, Mayor of Palo Alto, California, 1914

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  • 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.
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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. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  2. Black, George F. The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3).
  3. Moody David. Scottish Family History. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0806312688).
  4. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  5. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  6. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  7. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  8. Skene, William Forbes Edition. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots and Other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867. Print.
  9. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  10. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  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 29 December 2015 at 18:10.

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