This most interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and originated as a nickname for someone who was a swift, fast runner, from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "swift", fleet. It is a rather unique name as it has retained its original spelling for over one thousand years. The name is also found in Ireland, where it is a pseudo-translation of the Gaelic name "O'Fuada", composed of the Gaelic prefix "O", male descendant of, and a personal name derived from "fuadach", plundering, and probably so translated because of the rapidity of action involved. This was a Co. Mayo name which also gave rise to the surnames Speed and Rush in Ireland. The surname was first recorded in England in the mid 12th Century (see below) and the personal name "Suift" appeared in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk in 1166. Nicholaus filius Swift was mentioned in 1222 in the Curia Rolls of Suffolk, and Matilda Swyft was listed in the Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire in 1273. One of the most notable namebearers was Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745), grandson of Thomas Swift, the royalist vicar of Goodrich. He was dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin and a famous satirist, who wrote "Gulliver's Travels", and was granted a Coat of Arms depicting, per pale gold and green, on a chevron between three bucks in full course, as many pheons, points down all counterchanged. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Swift, which was dated 1167, in the "Pipe Rolls of Hampshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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