This surname is of early pre 10th century German, topographic or occupational origins. It is approximately the same as the Olde English 'Lea, Leigh or Lee' and implies one who dwelt in a forest area cleared for agriculture, or who undertook the clearance themselves. There are many spelling forms of which the most popular would seem to be Schwandt, Schwant, Schwand, Schwandner, Schwanter, Schwanten, Schwandermann and Szwandt. The name has occasionally been confused with Schwan, although Schwan is from a totally different source, and describes either a swan-keeper or was originally a baptismal name of endearment, which in the medieval period became a surname. Unfortunately Germanic records are extremely erratic. This is partly because of the many wars which swept the region in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the havoc of (in particular) the Second World War (1939 - 45), and the fact that the country was not federated until 1860. Before that each individual state within the German Empire, of which there were hundreds, literally did their own thing when it came to record keeping. Finding early examples of a surname is a matter of luck. In this case we have a number of examples and these include Catharina Schwanten of Goslar, Hannover, on June 16th 1588, Casparus Schwander of Freiburg on February 3rd 1689, and Anna Maria Schwandt who married Johan Kreuger at Pfalz, in the Province of Bayern, on March 19th, 1699. Other recordings are those of Eva Schwand who married Christian Lentz at Bilderwitschen, East Prussia on August 19th 1753, whilst in England the first example may be Magdalena Schwander, who married Daniel Robert, at St Lukes, Chelsea, on December 22nd, 1777. The most unusual Coat of Arms granted at Souabe, Germany, (date unknown), has a gold field charged with a 'blanchard de vin' - a wine carrier. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Anna Schwander, which was dated 1580, married at Chemnitz, Province of Sachsen, during the reign of Emperor Rudolf 11, of the German Empire, 1576 - 1612. 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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