Swords History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Swords 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.

Early Origins of the Swords family

The surname Swords 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.

Early History of the Swords family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Swords research. More information is included under the topic Early Swords History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Swords Spelling Variations

The spelling of names in Ireland during the Middle Ages was rarely consistent. This inconsistency was due to the scribes and church officials' attempts to record orally defined names in writing. The common practice of recording names as they sounded resulted in spelling variations such as Swords, O'Sword, O'Swerte, Swoordes, Sourdes, Swerdes, Clavin and many more.

Early Notables of the Swords family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Swords Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Swords migration to the United States +

In the late 18th century, Irish families began emigrating to North America in the search of a plot of land to call their own. This pattern of emigration grew steadily until the 1840s when the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s cause thousands of Irish to flee the death and disease that accompanied the disaster. Those that made it alive to the shores of the United States and British North America (later to become Canada) were, however, instrumental in the development of those two powerful nations. Many of these Irish immigrants proudly bore the name of Swords:

Swords Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Richard Swords, who was a bonded emigrant from Ireland in 1742
  • Thomas Swords, who was naturalized in Pennsylvania in 1795
  • Thomas Swords, who landed in America in 1795 [1]
Swords Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Edward Swords, who was naturalized in Philadelphia in 1816
  • Richard Swords, who was naturalized in Pennsylvania in 1835
  • Richard Swords, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1835 [1]

Canada Swords migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Swords Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Swords U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784 [2]
Swords Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Hugh Swords, aged 22, who landed in Canada in 1812
  • James Swords, aged 19, who landed in Canada in 1812
  • Patt Swords, aged 12, who landed in Canada in 1812
  • Peter Swords, aged 30, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the brig "Breeze" from Dublin, Ireland
  • Peter Swords, who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834

New Zealand Swords 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:

Swords Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Patrick Swords, (b. 1840), aged 21, British groom travelling from Bristol aboard the ship "Matoaka" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 10th February 1862 [3]

Contemporary Notables of the name Swords (post 1700) +

  • Carolyn Swords (b. 1898), American Women's National Basketball Association basketball player
  • Thomas "Tommy" Swords (b. 1953), American soccer forward, captain of the U.S. national team, member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame
  • Kevin Robert Swords (b. 1960), former USA international rugby player
  • Michael D. Swords, American scientist, Professor of Natural Sciences at Western Michigan University
  • Liam Swords, Irish historian
  • Jeffrey Shawn Swords (b. 1973), Canadian basketball player at the 2000 Summer Olympics
  • Doris Swords Poppler, American politician, U.S. Attorney for Montana, 1990-93 [4]


The Swords 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: Paratus
Motto Translation: Paratus.


  1. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  2. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  3. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  4. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 22) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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