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

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

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

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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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.

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.


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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
  • Sam Lee-Arthur Sword (b. 1974), former American NFL football linebacker
  • Brian Sword, film producer/director


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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. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  2. Rasmussen, Louis J. . San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists 4 Volumes Colma, California 1965 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978. Print.
  3. O'Hart, John. Irish Pedigress 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4).
  4. Johnson, Daniel F. Irish Emigration to New England Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick Canada 1841-1849. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield, 1996. Print.
  5. Land Owners in Ireland. Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1203-3).
  6. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  7. Read, Charles Anderson. The Cabinet of Irish Literature Selections from the Works of the Chief Poets, Orators and Prose Writers of Ireland 4 Volumes. London: Blackie and Son, 1884. Print.
  8. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  9. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  10. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of Ireland. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1969. 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 17 July 2013 at 13:25.

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