This interesting surname is of early medieval English origin, and has two distinct possible sources, each with its own history and derivation. Firstly, the name may derive from Siward or Seward, Middle English male given names, derived respectively from the Olde English pre 7th Century "Sigheweard" and "Saeweard", composed of the elements "sige", victory, and "sae", sea, with "weard", guard, lord. Pre 7th Century Anglo-Saxon and Norse baptismal names were usually distinctive compounds whose elements were often associated with the Gods of Fire, Water and War. The above names appear variously as "Siuuard, Seuuard" and "Sauuard" in the Domesday Book of 1086. Early examples of the surname from this source include: Richard Syward (Cambridgeshire, 1260); Richard Seward (Shropshire, 1275); John Sywart (Suffolk, 1273) and William Saywart (Cheshire, 1385). In the Danelaw areas of England, the Old Danish "Sigwarth", cognate with the Olde English "Sigheweard" (as above) is the most likely source. Occasionally, Seaward may have originated as an occupational name for a swineherd, from the Olde English "su", pig, and "hierde", herdsman. One Alicia Sueherd was noted in the 1379 Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire. John Seaward, an early emigrant to America, was recorded in a Census of those resident in Virginia on February 16th 1623. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Siward, which was dated 1235, in the "Feet of Fines of Oxfordshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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