This interesting name has two possible origins. The first and most likely being a nickname for a pure or graceful person - qualities attributed to the Swan. The name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "Swan" or "Swon" meaning "Swan". One, Suannus Faber is recorded in the 1177 "Pipe Rolls of Cumberland, and a Hugo Suan in the 1176 "Pipe Rolls of Suffolk". The second distinct possibility is that the name derives from the Olde English "Swan" or the medieval English "Swon" meaning a herdsman or retainer and given as an occupational name to a Swineherd. One, Walter le Swon and a Stephen le Swan appear in the 1298 "Subsidy Rolls of Sussex". The exact origin of the name cannot be distinguished in the above entries. It is also interesting to note the form "atte Swan" recorded in the "Calander of Pleas for London city", dated 1344. This name was given to one dwelling at the sign of the Swan. In the modern idiom, the name is spelt Swanne, Swan or Swann. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Swann, witness, which was dated 1221, in the Assize Court Rolls of Staffordshire, 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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