This surname is not only one of the oldest of all recorded surnames, pre-dating the 1086 Domesday Book (see below), it is one of the earliest settler names in America. It derives from the pre 8th Century "Viking" (Scandinavian) personal name Sven, Suen or Sveinn, a form of endearment translating literally as "boy". The name in several variant forms was enthusiastically adopted by the English, and also by the 1066 Norman invaders who were themselves of Viking origins. By the 16th Century the term "swain" had developed the senses of "young rustic", and hence "rustic lover, wooer".The modern surname from this source can be found as Swain, Swaine, Swayn and Swayne, while the patronymic forms are Swains, Sweynson, Swenson and Swainson. The early recordings include Robert Suein in the 1166 Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire, whilst Walter Swayn is found in the Court Rolls of Suffolk in 1295. Later recordings include Samuel Swaine of Sewardstone, Essex, in 1612, a descendant of William Swayne, also of Essex, granted arms on June 29th 1444, whilst on June 1st 1681, the rare form of Swains (a development of Swaynes) is found at Thame, Oxford, when John Swains married Marrian Powell. The first American recording is of Peter Swaine, who was a passenger on the sloop "Batchelor" bound for the Leeward Isles and Virginia from London on May 3rd 1679. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Osgot Sveyn, which was dated 1045, in the "Anglo-Saxon Wills List of Cambridgeshire", during the reign of King Edward, known as "The Confessor", 1042 - 1066. 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.
© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2022