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

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

The name Swift is part of the ancient legacy of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. Swift was a name used for a person who because of his physical abilities was referred to as swifte, which was an Old English word used to denote one who was quick and had a lot of speed. This was a name often given to a messenger or courier. A broad and miscellaneous class of surnames, nickname surnames referred to a characteristic of the first person who used the name. They can describe the bearer's favored style of clothing, appearance, habits, or character.

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Until the dictionary, an invention of only the last few hundred years, the English language lacked any comprehensive system of spelling rules. Consequently, spelling variations in names are frequently found in early Anglo-Saxon and later Anglo-Norman documents. One person's name was often spelled several different ways over a lifetime. The recorded variations of Swift include Swift, Swifte, Swyft, Swyfte and others.

First found in Norfolk where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D. and were recorded on a list of Taxpayers in 1327 when Christopher Swift held lands in that county.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Swift research. Another 183 words(13 lines of text) covering the years 1478, 1634, 1640 and 1667 are included under the topic Early Swift History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 29 words(2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Swift Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Swift family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 193 words(14 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Thousands of English families boarded ships sailing to the New World in the hope of escaping the unrest found in England at this time. Although the search for opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad took the lives of many because of the cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels, the opportunity perceived in the growing colonies of North America beckoned. Many of the settlers who survived the journey went on to make important contributions to the transplanted cultures of their adopted countries. The Swift were among these contributors, for they have been located in early North American records:

Swift Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • James Swift arrived in Virginia in 1610
  • Jon Swift, who landed in Virginia in 1618
  • Mr. Swift who arrived in Virginia in 1623
  • Thomas Swift, who landed in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1635
  • Tho Swift, who arrived in Virginia in 1638


Swift Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Thomas Swift settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1716
  • Lattice Swift, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1721-1726
  • William Swift, who landed in Bermuda in 1722
  • Daniel Swift, aged 21, arrived in Pennsylvania in 1778
  • John White Swift, who arrived in New York in 1798

Swift Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Ann Swift, aged 30, landed in America in 1822
  • Seth Swift, who landed in Texas in 1835
  • James Swift, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1849
  • H Swift, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • R W Swift, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850


Swift Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Jane Swift, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750

Swift Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Anthony Swift, aged 19, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1834 aboard the brig "Sea Horse" from Galway
  • James Swift, aged 35, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1834 aboard the ship "Britannia" from Sligo
  • John Swift settled in Harbour Grace in 1834
  • William Swift was a fisherman of Bay de Loup, Newfoundland in 1859
  • William Swift settled in St. John's in 1871

Swift Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Thomas Swift, Welsh convict from Brecknock, who was transported aboard the "Adamant" on March 16, 1821, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • Charles Swift arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Dorothy" in 1849
  • William Swift arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Orator" in 1849
  • Sydney Swift, aged 25, a farm labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Ascendant"
  • Frederick Swift, aged 28, arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Sea Park"


Swift Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • John Swift arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Mermaid" in 1859
  • James Swift, aged 32, a labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Strathnaver" in 1874
  • Eleanor Swift, aged 19, a housemaid, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ionic" in 1884

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  • Lewis A Swift (1820-1913), American astronomer who discovered or co-discovered a number of comets including 11P/Tempel-Swift-LINEAR
  • Granville Perry Swift (1821-1875), early California pioneer and a highly successful gold miner
  • Taylor Alison Swift (b. 1989), award-winning American country pop singer-songwriter, musician and actress
  • William Charles "Bill" Swift (b. 1961), American former Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher
  • Gustavus Franklin Swift (1839-1903), American founder of Swift & Company, a meat-packing empire in the Midwest, one of the first companies to use refrigerated rail cars
  • Kay Swift (1897-1993), American composer of popular and classical music, best known for her 1930 musical "Fine and Dandy" and for arranging some of the music of George Gershwin posthumously
  • Stromile Swift (b. 1979), American former professional basketball player
  • George Bell Swift (1845-1912), American politician, 34th and 36th Mayor of Chicago, Illinois (1893, 1895–1897)
  • Edward D. Swift (b. 1871), American astronomer, son of the astronomer Lewis Swift
  • Mrs. Margaret Welles Swift, (née Barron), aged 46, American First Class passenger from New York City, New York who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping in life boat 8

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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: Festina lente
Motto Translation: Be quick without impetuosity.

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  1. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  2. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  3. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  4. 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).
  5. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  6. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  7. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  8. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  9. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  10. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Swift Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Swift 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 28 April 2015 at 16:59.

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