This interesting name is probably of English locational origin from one of the estimated seven to ten thousand villages that have now disappeared from maps in Britain. The prime cause of these "disappearances" was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade in the 14th Century. Natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, also contributed to the lost village phenomenon. The original place is believed to have been located in Northern England and was composed of the Old Scandinavian element "Swithinn", "burnt", or the Old Norse "svithinn", meaning "land cleared by burning", plus the Old English "-by" from the Old Norse "byr", "boer", village, homestead, a common second element in parts of England where Scandinavians settled. Ann, daughter of Jos. and Mary Swithenby was christened at St. Peter, Bolton Lancashire on January 12th 1806, while their other children, Jas., was christened on November 17th 1811, Samuel on November 24th 1816, and Mary on May 2nd 1819. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jas and Mary Swithenby, which was dated February 14th 1802, christening witness at St. Peters, Bolton, Lancashire, during the reign of King George 111, "Farmer George", 1760 - 1820. 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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