This very interesting surname is a relatively recent Anglicized variant form of the Old German Schwi(e)ger, Schwicker(t), or Schweiker. This surname is first recorded in the mid 14th Century (see below), and the translation is variously given as "the in-laws", or the "brother-in-law", or even the "mother-in-law", although perhaps this latter explanation would seem to stretch the imagination to the limits. As "Schwicker", the name was long recorded in England, John Adam Schwicker being christened at St. Saviour's Church, Southwark, on October 20th 1792, whilst at least one Schweiger is recorded in the London Telephone Directories (1988). The nearest equivalent English surname is either Cousin(s), a surname which describes a "kinsman", not necessarily a cousin, or Maw(e), a term used vaguely of a relative by marriage. In the period between 1870 and 1914 many holders of German looking or even sounding surnames, changed the form to an English style as anti-German sentiment reached a peak in the First World War (1914 - 1918). Two such examples are Reinhard to Raynor, and Smid to Smith. The early recordings include: Joannes Henricus Schwicker, a witness at Paderborn, Westfalen, on October 16th 1641, and Anna Catharina Schwieger, who married Gregorius Dieterich on August 11th 1704, in the town of Baden-Baden, Germany. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Heinrich Schwiger, which was dated 1358, in the "Registers of Langenschemmern", Germany, during the reign of Charles 1V of the German Empire, 1347 - 1378. 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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