This interesting and unusual name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from a now 'lost' place thought to have been situated in Sussex, near its border with Surrey. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets in Britain are known to have disappeared since the 12th Century, due to natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, during which an eighth of the population perished, and to the widespread practice of enforced 'clearing' of large areas of rural land to make sheep pastures during the boom in the wool trade of the 14th and 15th Centuries. The placename Swaisland or Swaysland means 'land divided by swathes', derived from the Old English pre 7th Century 'swaeth, swathu', swathe, originally the space covered by the mower's scythe, and here used in the sense of longitudinal division of a field, with 'land', land, specifically a portion of an estate. The surname can be found as Swaisland and Swayland, mainly in the southern counties of England. The marriage of Edward Swaisland and Ann Agate was recorded at Slaugham in Sussex on May 28th 1695. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Margaret Swaiseland (christening), which was dated November 24th 1560, at East Grinstead, Sussex, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as 'Good Queen Bess', 1558-1603. 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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