The German surname of SCHWAHN was originally an ancient English female personal name SVANHILDR, composed of the elements SVANR (swan) and HILD (battle). The name was also applied to a person noted for purity or excellence (which were taken to be the attributes of a swan). The name was brought into England during the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. It is also spelt SWAN, SWAIN, SWAINSON, SWANN, SCHWANKE, and SWONNELL. The earliest of the name on record appears to be SWANILDA (without surname) who was recorded in 1201 in County Sussex, and SWANHILD de Herteford, appears in Berkshire in the year 1227. Ralph SWANYLD of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Hereditary surnames were originally imported from France into England during the Norman Conquest of 1066. In the two centuries or so after the Conquest surnames were acquired by most families of major landholders, and many landed families of lesser importance. There appears to have been a constant trickle of migration into Britain between about the years 1200 and 150O, mostly from France and the Low Countries, with a small number of migrants from Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and the Iberian peninsular, and occasional individuals from further afield. During this period groups of aliens settled in this country as for example, the Germans who from the late 15th century onwards settled in Cumbria to work the metal mines. Immigration during this time had only a small effect on the body of surnames used in Britain. In many cases, the surnames of immigrants were thoroughly Anglicised. The late sixteenth century saw the arrival, mostly in London and the south-coast ports of large numbers of people fleeing from the war regions of France. Later instances of the name mention James SWAINSON of Ulverston who was listed in the Lancashire Wills at Richmond in 1583. The name was taken to Scotland early and SWEIN Ulfkills was a witness in King Edgar's charter granting Swinton to the Monks of St. Cuthbert, circa. 1100 Elyas SWEYN was the constable at Locres in 1250. James SWAYNE was a tenant of Bordland in the barony of Kylbouho in 1376. Patrick SWANE was a charter witness in Glasgow in 1474, and Peter SWAYN was a tenant in Hylle of Mossplat in 1533. George SWAYNE was a tenant of Newtounleis in 1559.
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