Swan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The saga of the name Swan begins among the Viking settlers who arrived in Scotland in the medieval era. The name Swan is 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. Another source claims the name was an occupational name for someone "who acted as a servant or attendant; one who tended swine; descendant of Swain (young man, or boy servant)." [1]

Sweyn or Svein (d. 1014), was "King of England and Denmark, called Forkbeard, son of Harold Blaatand, King of Denmark, probably by his Queen Gunhild, though it was said that his mother was a Slav, a servant in the house of Palna-Toki, or Tokko, in Funen. " [2]

Earl Sweyn or Swegen (d. 1052), "the eldest son of Earl Godwin or Godwine and his wife Gytha, was early in 1043, when Edward or Eadward, called the Confessor, had become king, appointed to an earldom that was partly Mercian and partly West-Saxon, for it included Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Somerset. " [2]

Early Origins of the Swan family

The surname Swan was 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.

Further south in England, the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 listed early spelling of the family: John le Swein and Robert le Swein in Oxfordshire; and Geoffrey le Sueyn in Norfolk. The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 lists: Robertus Swaynne. [3]

"The ancient name of Swain, which is now best represented in Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, and Devonshire, was established in the form of Sweyn, rarely of Swayn, during the 13th century in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, and Oxfordshire, being most numerous in the last two counties. " [4]

Early History of the Swan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Swan research. Another 204 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1100, 1100, 1214, 1250, 1499, 1521, 1585, 1690, 1680, 1542, 1609, 1540, 1550, 1510 and are included under the topic Early Swan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Swan Spelling Variations

Contemporary spellings of ancient Scottish names often bear little resemblance to the original recorded versions. These spelling variations result from the fact that medieval scribes spelled words and names alike according to their sounds. Swan has been spelled Swan, Swann, Swanner, Swani, Swayne, Swein, Sweing, Sweyn and many more.

Early Notables of the Swan family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was Charles Swan (killed 1690), who was forced into piracy by his crew in the 1680s. He was killed when he attempted to escape back to England on a Dutch ship with five thousand pounds. Robert Some...
Another 43 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Swan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Swan family to Ireland

Some of the Swan family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 70 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Swan migration to the United States +

The colonies on the fertile east coast of North America soon had many farms run by Scots. These hardy settlers provided a backbone for the great nations of the United States and Canada that would emerge in the next centuries. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the Scottish name Swan or a variant listed above, including:

Swan Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Richard Swan, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1634 [5]
  • Jon Swan, who landed in Virginia in 1635 [5]
  • Edgar Swan, who landed in Virginia in 1635
  • John Swan, who landed in Virginia in 1635
  • Edward Swan, who arrived in Virginia in 1635 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Swan Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Mary Swan, who arrived in Virginia in 1703 [5]
  • Margaret Swan, who arrived in Virginia in 1711 [5]
  • Eliza Swan, who landed in Virginia in 1714 [5]
  • John Swan, who arrived in Annapolis, Maryland in 1766 [5]
Swan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Swan, who arrived in New York, NY in 1812 [5]
  • Margaret Swan, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1816 [5]
  • Walter Swan, who landed in New York in 1816 [5]
  • David Swan, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1816 [5]
  • Alexander Swan, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1816 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Swan migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Swan Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Caleby Swan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1760
  • Francis Swan, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1760
  • Mr. Thomas Swan U.E., (Swann) who arrived at Port Roseway, [Shelbourne], Nova Scotia on December 13, 1783 was passenger number 421 aboard the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on November 14, 1783 at East River, New York, USA [6]
  • Mrs. Jemima Swan U.E., (Swann) who arrived at Port Roseway, [Shelbourne], Nova Scotia on December 13, 1783 was passenger number 503 aboard the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on November 14, 1783 at East River, New York, USA [6]
  • Mr. Bryan Swan U.E. who settled in Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1784 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Swan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • James Swan from Stevenstone in Ayrshire settled in St. John's, Newfoundland in 1813 [7]
  • Mr. Thomas Swan, aged 20 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Ajax" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle in June 1847 [8]
  • Lady Swan, who landed in Victoria, British Columbia in 1862
  • W Swan, who landed in Victoria, British Columbia in 1862

Australia Swan migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Swan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Robert Swan, a smith, who arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Thomas Swan, a joiner, who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • James Swan, English convict from Cambridge, who was transported aboard the "America" on April 4, 1829, settling in New South Wales, Australia [9]
  • William Swan, aged 24, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Palmyra" in 1839 [10]
  • Margaret Swan, aged 24, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Palmyra" in 1839 [10]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Swan migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Swan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. James Swan, (b. 1823), aged 18, British agricultural labourer travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Lord William Bentinck" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 24th May 1841 [11]
  • Mr. Stephen Swan, (b. 1820), aged 21, British agricultural labourer travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Lord William Bentinck" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 24th May 1841 [11]
  • Miss Frances Swan, (b. 1823), aged 18, British sempstress travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Lord William Bentinck" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 24th May 1841 [11]
  • Miss Sarah Ann Swan, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Lord William Bentinck" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 24th May 1841 [11]
  • Stephen Swan, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1842
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Swan (post 1700) +

  • Richard Gordon Swan, American mathematician, developer of Swan's theorem
  • James Gilchrist Swan (1818-1900), American Indian agent in Washington state
  • Lieutenant General Guy C Swan III (b. 1954), Commanding General United States Army North
  • Cyrus Swan, American politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Sharon, 1824-25, 1827-28 [12]
  • Clyde H. Swan, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Massachusetts, 1932 [12]
  • Cleve H. Swan, American Democrat politician, Candidate for New York State Senate 40th District, 1936 [12]
  • Charles E. Swan, American Republican politician, Mayor of Calais, Maine, 1897-98 [12]
  • Charles C. Swan, American Republican politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Clinton; Elected 1926 [12]
  • Caleb Swan, American politician, Candidate for Governor of Massachusetts, 1857 [12]
  • Benjamin Swan, American Democrat politician, Elected Massachusetts State House of Representatives Eleventh Hampden District 2002 [12]
  • ... (Another 42 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. John H. Swan, British 10th Engineer from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking [13]
  • Mr. Charles Swan (1851-1914), Canadian Third Class Passenger from Montreal, Quebec, Canada who survived the sinking on the Empress of Ireland [13]
Halifax Explosion
  • Mrs. Ada  Swan (1890-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who survived the explosion but later died due to injuries [14]
HMS Prince of Wales
Pan Am Flight 103 (Lockerbie)
  • Anthony Selwyn Swan (1959-1988), Trinidadian Passenger from Brooklyn, New York, America, who flew aboard the Pan Am Flight 103 from Frankfurt to Detroit, known as the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 and died [16]


The Swan Motto +

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.


Suggested Readings for the name Swan +

  • 1415 The Black Swan; The story of Edward Hornsby, alias Swan, and His Descendants by Wendy E. Nunan, Records of the Families of Brothers, Swan, Bonar/Reeves, Beardsley by William P. Brothers, The Affinity and Consanguinity of my Swans by L.P. Fauskee.

  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York, Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  7. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  8. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 57)
  9. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 26) America voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1829 with 176 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/america/1829
  10. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) PALMYRA 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839Palmyra.htm
  11. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  12. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 21) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  13. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  14. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  15. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  16. ^ Pan Am Flight 103's victims: A list of those killed 25 years ago | syracuse.com. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/12/pan_am_flight_103s_victims_a_list_of_those_killed_25_years_ago.html


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