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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish


The name Sword most often comes from the Irish name O Suaird, which, when Anglicized in a Fiant of 1562, becomes O'Sword. In County Down, in the early 17th century, the name was recorded in the Ulster Inquisitions as Swords, Swoordes, and Sourdes. In County Kildare the name Swords was often a mistranslation of the Irish name O Claimhin, which was mistakenly equated with the Irish word "claidheamh" meaning "sword." Thus, the name Clavin is a synonym for Swords. In County Mayo Claveen is also a synonym. In the 14th century the name de Swerdes, derived from the village, appeared in several places in Ireland.

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The surname Sword was first found in Counties Offaly, Leix, and Kildare, where in 1016, the successor of St. Brigid, abbess of Kildare, was named O Suairt according to the Four Masters.

During the Middle Ages, a standardized literary language known by the general population of Ireland was a thing of fiction. When a person's name was recorded by one of the few literate scribes, it was up that particular scribe to decide how to spell an individual's name. So a person could have several spelling variations of his name recorded during a single lifetime. Research into the name Sword revealed many variations, including Swords, O'Sword, O'Swerte, Swoordes, Sourdes, Swerdes, Clavin and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sword research. Another 140 words (10 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Sword History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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

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The 18th century saw the slow yet steady emigration of Irish families to British North America and the United States. Those early Irish settlers that left their homeland were typically moderately well off: they were enticed by the promise of a sizable plot of land. However, by the 1840s, this pattern of immigration was gone: immigrants to North America were seeking refuge from the starvation and disease that the Great Potato Famine of that decade brought. The great numbers of Irish that arrived to the United States and the soon to be Canada were instrumental in their quick development as powerful industrial nations. An examination of early immigration and passenger lists uncovered many early immigrants bearing the name Sword:

Sword Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • James Sword, who arrived in Virginia in 1713
  • Humphrey Sword, who landed in Maryland in 1716

Sword Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Jane A Sword, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1849
  • David R Sword, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1874

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  • Eileen Sword, American actress, known for When the Bullet Hits the Bone (1996), Lethal Tender (1997) and 5 Dysfunctional People in a Car (2009)
  • Roger Sword (1933-2010), American two-time Primetime Emmy Award nominated sound engineer, known for his work on The Blues Brothers (1980), Empire of the Sun (1987) and Romancing the Stone (1984)
  • John Sword (b. 1989), American producer and actor
  • Sam Lee-Arthur Sword (b. 1974), former American NFL football player who played from 1999 to 2002
  • Tom Sword, English actor, known for his work on The Escape (2011), He Who Dares (2014) and SafeHouse
  • Tommy Sword (b. 1957), British former professional football defender for Stockport County, inducted into the Stockport County Hall of Fame


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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: Paratus
Motto Translation: Paratus.

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  1. Kennedy, Patrick. Kennedy's Book of Arms. Canterbury: Achievements, 1967. Print.
  2. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  3. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  4. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  5. Johnson, Daniel F. Irish Emigration to New England Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick Canada 1841-1849. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield, 1996. Print.
  6. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  7. Sullivan, Sir Edward. The Book of Kells 3rd Edition. New York: Crescent Books, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-517-61987-3).
  8. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
  9. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  10. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  11. ...

The Sword Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Sword 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 January 2016 at 08:37.

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