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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Where did the English Swetnam family come from? What is the English Swetnam family crest and coat of arms? When did the Swetnam family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Swetnam family history?

The Anglo-Saxon name Swetnam comes from the family having resided in the county of Cheshire, where they held a family seat at Swettenham. The surname Swetnam is a habitation name that was originally derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. The surname originated as a means of identifying individuals from a particular area. In the Middle Ages people often assumed the name of the place that they originally lived as their surname during the course of travel.

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Swetnam has been spelled many different ways, including Before English spelling became standardized over the last few hundred years, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. As the English language changed in the Middle Ages, absorbing pieces of Latin and French, as well as other languages, the spelling of people's names also changed considerably, even over a single lifetime. Swettenham, Swetenham, Sweetham, Swetnam and others.

First found in Cheshire at Swettenham, a small village and civil parish. The place name was originally Suetenham in the late 12th century which literally meant "homestead or enclosure of a man called Sweta." [1] Swettenham Hall is a country house located there dating back to the 17th century. The first Saxon Lord of Swettenham, Peter, had his estates confirmed by King William Rufus.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Swetnam research. Another 125 words(9 lines of text) covering the years 1500 and 1602 are included under the topic Early Swetnam History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Swetnam Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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In an attempt to escape the chaos experienced in England, many English families boarded overcrowded and diseased ships sailing for the shores of North America and other British colonies. Those families hardy enough, and lucky enough, to make the passage intact were rewarded with land and a social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families became important contributors to the young colonies in which they settled. Early immigration and passenger lists have documented some of the first Swetnams to arrive on North American shores:

Swetnam Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Edward Swetnam, who landed in Maryland in 1671

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  • Thomas W. Swetnam (b. 1955), American Professor of Dendrochronology
  • Robert Swetnam (b. 1962), American professional football player
  • Joseph Swetnam, English Renaissance author and Jacobean fencing master
  • Huw Swetnam, British slalom canoer
  • Miss Carman A.  Swetnam (1909-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Mrs. Elizabeth Louise  Swetnam (1879-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917


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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: Ex sudore vultus
Motto Translation: By the sweat of the face.

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  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)

Other References

  1. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  2. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  3. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  4. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  5. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  6. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  7. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  8. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  9. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  10. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  11. ...

The Swetnam Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Swetnam 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 13 November 2014 at 16:21.

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