The following article was copied several years ago from a web site run by Jeff Swann from the USA. Unfortunately that web site does not seem to exist anymore. I have tried to contact Jeff Swann without success, so I have taken the liberty of reproducing his interesting article here.

Kevin Swann .

History of the Swan(n) family name

While researching the origin of surnames, one comes across many sources of information. In the case of SWAN, records indicate that the SWAN surname is Norse in origin. This Norse heritage was derived from two distinct countries, Norway and Denmark. As a rule the north of Scotland was under the influence of Norway and the south of England was under Dane Rule.

The SWAN name in Old Norse (ON) is translated to be "young servant" and later "knight's attendant". The early variations of this type of name were SWEIN/SVEINN which later became the English SWAIN. SWAIN was locally adopted as an Old English (OE) term for "boy servant". SWAN was also latter used in this context for the Middle English (ME) "herdsman".

SWAN had many phonetic spellings early in English history, some examples of this are; SUAN, SWON(E), SWAN(N)(E)

The Family surnames of SWAN first emerged as a Scottish family name. The first record of the Swan family was around 1100, when Swein Ulfkillson, was a witness in King Edgar's charter granting Swintun to the monks of St. Cuthbert. Thor, the son of Swein held the lands of Traukernaut, the church of which was granted to the monks of Holyrood. Swan, son of Thor, held lands in Perthshire, and between 1211 and 1214, granted to the monks of Scone the lands of Ahednepobbel, and also a toft in Tubermore. Swan also held the lands of Crawford in Clydesdale with William de Lindsay as his vassal. Swan was the ancestor of Ruthven, a Scottish Clan, the name coming about as a territorial designation, the Swans of Ruthven. Swein Ulfkillson was said to be the brother of Gunni who founded the Gunn Clan of Caithness. In this Gunn Clan, Swan(n) is a sept family name from ancient times, On the same breath, Swein is said to have started the MacQueen family of Skye. MacQueen being the Gaelic pronunciation of Swein, which some say became MacSweeney. This family merged with the Donalds of Skye and became part of Clan Ranald. Later in time a large contingent of MacQueens traveled to MacIntosh lands when Moira MacDonald married the Chief of the Maclntoshes. Revan MacQueen was the leader of the group and he was granted land at Corriborough.

The English SWAN surname is first recorded in 1176 when Hugo SUAN is recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Suffolk. SUANNUS was recorded in 1177 in the Pipe Rolls of Cumberland. SUAN filius Arkill is recorded in 1219 in Yorkshire in the Assize Rolls. John SWANN is recorded in 1221 in the Assize Rolls of Shropshire, and Gilbert SWAN, recorded in 1260 in the Assize Rolls of Cumberland.

The le Swan name also was used and with this article may have been either the OE Swain or a possible nickname. Thomas le Swan and John le Swon are recorded in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk. Walter le Swon, Stephen le Swan are recorded even earlier in the 1296 Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. I don't know if the record keeping during the 13th century had a French influence which pushed the le article on everyone's name, but this is mainly recorded in the Subsidy Rolls.

Some Swans took there surname from living near a tavern sign, like Godfrey atte Swan who was recorded in 1344 in the "Pleas before the king" in London, or Thomas atte Swan in the 1364 in the "Calendar of letter books of London".

The Swann family of Kent is said to be descended from a Danish noble who held lands in York, Derby and Kent by the time William the Conqueror invaded southern Kent. Currently we have some branches of this family traced back to 1300 England, and I will make every effort to keep this web site up to date with any new developments.

Copied:- 29 May 1998 from Jeff Swann

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