Show ContentsSweetmen History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Sweetmen surname came to Ireland from Britain with the Anglo-Norman (Strongbow) invasion of the 12th century. The surname Sweetmen is derived from the Old English word "swete," which meant "sweet," "pleasant," or "agreeable;" along with the suffix -man. As such, it was a nickname surname, created for a popular person. Most of the native Irish surnames were patronymics created from the Gaelic names of an ancestor, and some of the Anglo-Norman naming practices of these settlers were seen as rather unusual. The Gaelic form of the surname Sweetmen is Suatman.

Early Origins of the Sweetmen family

The surname Sweetmen was first found in County Killkenny, where they settled about the year 1177 where they were granted lands originally belonging to the native Irish for their contribution to the defeat of the Irish by Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke.

One of the first records of the family was Milo Sweetman (died 1380), Archbishop of Armagh, "a native of Ireland, came of an Anglo-Irish family. A Maurice Sweetman was Archdeacon of Armagh in 1365. Milo was appointed treasurer of the cathedral of Ossory or Kilkenny before 1360, in which year the chapter elected him bishop of that diocese. " [1]

While the name is now generally regarded as Irish, not all of the family emigrated to Ireland with Strongbow. The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 listed: Swetman (without surname), Oxfordshire; Swetman filius Edith, Oxfordshire; Swetman de Helignam, Norfolk; Sweteman Textor, Buckinghamshire; and Adam Swetman, Oxfordshire, 1273. [2]

Another source notes that the parish of Swettenham is in the union of Congleton, hundred of Northwich, Cheshire. [3] This parish derives its name from "the servant of Swet (sweet); one who came from Swettenham (Sweta's homestead.)" [4]

Early History of the Sweetmen family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sweetmen research. Another 60 words (4 lines of text) covering the years 1584, 1874, 1380, 1360 and 1361 are included under the topic Early Sweetmen History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Sweetmen Spelling Variations

Names were simply spelled as they sounded by medieval scribes and church officials. Therefore, during the lifetime of a single person, his name was often spelt in many different ways, explaining the many spelling variations encountered while researching the name Sweetmen. Some of these variations included: Suatman, Sweetman, Swetman and others.

Early Notables of the Sweetmen family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Sweetmen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Sweetmen family

In the mid-19th century, Ireland experienced one of the worst periods in its entire history. During this decade in order to ease the pressure of the soil, which was actually depleted by the effects of the previous years' grain crops, landowners forced tenant farmers and peasants onto tiny plots of land that barely provided the basic sustenance a family required. Conditions were worsened, though, by the population of the country, which was growing fast to roughly eight million. So when the Great Potato Famine of the mid-1840s hit, starvation and diseases decimated the population. Thousands of Irish families left the country for British North America and the United States. The new immigrants were often accommodated either in the opening western frontiers or as cheap unskilled labor in the established centers. In early passenger and immigration lists there are many immigrants bearing the name Sweetmen: Margeret Sweetman settled in Virginia in 1656; Ann Sweetman settled in Annapolis, Maryland in 1722; M.C. Sweetman settled in Charleston South Carolina in 1794.

  1. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  2. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print on Facebook