Recorded in many spelling forms including Schwab, Schwob, Schwabe, and Schwaf (German), Swaab (Flemish), Soave, and Soavi (Italian), Svab (Hungarian and Czech), this is a surname of Germanic origins. It is regional if not quite nationalistic and describes a former inhabitant of the province of Swabia. The Swabians were a 1st century a.d. tribe who lead an independant existence for over one thousand years until the 14th century, when the area was divided up amongst other principalities. Perhaps not surprisingly many Swabians were unhappy with the new arrangement, and they left the area taking their surname with them. Spelling in medieval times and for many centuries afterwards, being at best indifferent and local dialects very thick, lead to the development of "sounds like" surname spellings, some far removed from the original form. Early examples of the surname recordings include Cunrad Swab of Koln as early as the year 1135, and Heinrich der Swebelin of Worms in 1278.
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