This interesting name is of combined Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon origin, and has a number of different interpretations. Firstly, it may be a variant form of the patronymic surname Swainson, which itself has two related sources. It may be derived from an occupational name for a servant or attendant, from the Middle English term "swein", a development of the Old Norse "sveinn", reinforced with the Olde English pre 7th Century "swan", or it may derive from the Old Norse personal name "Sveinn", originally a byname meaning "Boy", Servant", as before. In both instances, the patronymic is formed with the addition of the suffix "-son", and as frequently occurs with similarly formed names, such as Johns(t)on, a "t" was sometimes adopted, to give Swains(t)on. The surname may also be locational in origin, from the places called Swainston, on the Isle of Wight, Hampshire, recorded as "Sweyneston" in 1255, or Swanston, near Colinton, Midlothian, Scotland. These places are both named with the Old Norse "Sveinn", as above, and the Olde English "tun", enclosure, settlement. The first recording of the surname, below, is from Scotland. In London, the marriage of Thomas Swainston and Francis (as spelt) Calvert was recorded at St. Bartholomew the Less, on June 21st 1600. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Duncan de Swaynystoun, which was dated 1221, in "Charters of the Hospital of Soltre", Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, during the reign of King Alexander 11 of Scotland, 1214 - 1249. 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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