Show ContentsSwire History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Swire arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Swire family lived at Swyre in Dorset. The surname Swire was originally derived from the Old English word "swoera" which means a "neck of land" or in other words, one who lives at the neck of land. [1]

Today Swyre is a coastal parish in Dorset, 6 miles south-east from Bridport [2] and dates back to the Domesday Book where it was listed as Suere. [3]

Interestingly, the Index of the Calendar of the Patent Rolls (1446-1452) Henry VI v.5. notes that Swyer was a variant of Squyer and further notes in the May 22 entry for Westminster 'gentilman' alias 'squyer,' so one could presume that the name was as many believe an early from the word 'squire' or 'gentleman.'

Furthermore, the same source notes that on November 13th in 1449, John Squyer of Notyngham (Nottingham) appeared before the court "and his fellows by the name John Swyer to answer..." questions about his debt to Alexander Galyard. The same source notes at least four more entries for the Squyer spelling.

Early Origins of the Swire family

The surname Swire was first found in Dorset at Swyre where they were descended from William d'Eu, Count of Eu, who was undertenant in Wiltshire and held the lands of Swyre (Latin: Tempore Regis Edwardi, English: during the reign of King Edward the Confessor) before the Norman Conquest in 1066. William of Swyre held those lands in 1086 at the taking of the Domesday Survey. [3]

Other early records include Geoffrey le Swyer who was listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of Nottinghamshire in 1275 and John Swyer who was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire in 1297. [4]

Years later, the Yorkshire Poll Tax records of 1379 listed: Ricardus Sqwyer; Thomas Swyer and Willelmus Swyer. [5]

Early History of the Swire family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Swire research. Another 173 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1400, 1523, 1533, 1706 and 1825 are included under the topic Early Swire History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Swire Spelling Variations

A multitude of spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include Swyre, Svere, Swyer, Swyre, Swire, Squyer and others.

Early Notables of the Swire family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was

  • The Reverend John Swire, Commissioner for the Peace in the county of Durham and in the North Riding of Yorkshire in 1825

United States Swire migration to the United States +

Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Swire or a variant listed above:

Swire Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • John A. Swire, aged 46, who arrived in New York in 1919 aboard the ship "Ulua" from Liverpool, England [6]
  • William Swire, aged 38, who arrived in New York in 1920 aboard the ship "Baltic" from Liverpool, England [6]
  • Martha Ann Swire, aged 38, who arrived in New York in 1920 aboard the ship "Baltic" from Liverpool, England [6]

New Zealand Swire 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:

Swire Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • William R. Swire, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Brahmin" in 1883

Contemporary Notables of the name Swire (post 1700) +

  • Peter Swire (b. 1958), American C. William O'Neil Professor at the Moritz College of Law of Ohio State University
  • Hannah Swire, birth name of Hannah Plues, English mother of Margaret Plues, the British botanist and writer
  • Sir John Anthony Swire CBE (1927-2016), English Honorary President, John Swire and Sons Ltd (1987-1997)
  • Robert "Rob" Swire (b. 1965), English physiotherapist for English football club Manchester United
  • John Samuel Swire, English founder of Taikoo Sugar Refinery in 1881
  • Tom Swire, British actor
  • Hugo George William Swire (b. 1959), British Conservative Party politician, Minister of State for the Foreign Office (2012-)
  • John Swire (1793-1847), British trader, founder of John Swire and Sons in Liverpool in 1816, now having over 121,000 employees
  • Robert "Rob" Swire -Thompson (b. 1982), Australian record producer, singer and musician
  • John Kidston Swire, Chairman of John Swire & Sons, President of Cathay Pacific Airways, of Hubbards Hall in Harlow, Essex

Pan Am Flight 103 (Lockerbie)
  • Flora MacDonald Margaret Swire (1964-1988), English Medical Student And Researcher from London, England, who flew aboard the Pan Am Flight 103 from Frankfurt to Detroit, known as the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 and died [7]

The Swire 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: Esse quam videri
Motto Translation: To be, rather than to seem.

  1. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  4. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  6. Ellis Island Search retrieved 15th November 2022. Retrieved from
  7. Pan Am Flight 103's victims: A list of those killed 25 years ago | (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from on Facebook