This surname, which is found in the spellings of Swanborough, Swanborowe, Swansbury, Swainsbury, Swansberry, and Swansburey, derives from either a "lost" medieval village or is a dialectal form of the former Kent village of Swanborough. This village is recorded in the 8th century Anglo-Saxon Chronicles as "Suanaburna" and in the 1086 Domesday Book as "Sveneborne". The translation may be either from the Olde English "Swan" which could refer to a place of the swans, or the later Norse Viking "Sven" - a personal name of endearment which translates loosely as "Young man". As swans were very common the later Nordic name seems more logical. The second element is "burna" which is Ancient British for a stream, and as a descriptive word predates the Roman Conquest of 55 a.d. When, as seems to be the case here, the village literally disappeared off the map, the surname would develop several spelling forms. In this case we believe that we can show the original link forms which changed Swanborough (in at least one family) to the variants. In 1683 (see below) Nicholas Swanborowe is recorded at Chevening. In 1686 at the same place he is recorded on May 16th as Nicholas Swansbury, and to add further confusion he is also recorded at various times as Nicholas Swanborough. Another later variant recording is that of Roger Swainsbury, at St. Leonards Church, Shoreditch, on October 6th 1783. This form developed from Swansbury, found in London in 1740. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Nicholas Swanborowe, which was dated May 16th 1686, a christening witness at Chevening, Kent. during the reign of King James 11 of England, the last Catholic monarch, 1685 -1689. 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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