There are several unusual spelling features in regard to this Old Scottish name from the counties of Aberdeen and Kincardine. The name is first recorded in the early 15th Century (see below) as "Sewan" or "Sewane", although by 1520 it is recorded in the Germanic form of "Schewine", one John Schewine being a tenant of Glenboy, Cupar-Angus. Later, in 1589, John Schewane is recorded as being a burgess of Brechin, and John Schewane, a burgess of Dundee. The spelling as Schewine is very similar to Schwein, the German nickname form for a pork butcher. However, the earliest spelling suggests a development of the Nordic "Swein", which is both a given name and an occupational name, oddly enough for a pig farmer. The "modern" spelling forms as Shewan, Shewon or Shewen would seem to date from the early 17th Century, examples include: William Shewen, who married Margrat Giffard at Belhelvie, on April 24th 1642, whilst on October 29th 1664, Agnes Shewan, the daughter of Alexander Shewan, was christened at Longside Church, Aberdeen. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Mathew Sewane, which was dated 1444, admitted as Burgess of Aberdeen, Scotland, during the reign of King James 11 of Scotland, 1437 - 1460. 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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