The surname of SWINEHART was an occupational name 'the swine-herd' one who took care of the farm animals, probably a farmer. Many of the modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identify individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. Early records of the name mention Walter le SWYNHURDE of County Somerset who was documented during the reign of Edward I (1279-1307). Thomas SWYNHERD was recorded in County Wiltshire in the year 1327 and Nicholas SWYNARD of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Wylymot SWYNHIRD appeared in the same document. 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. A later instance of the name includes Nicholas SWINNARD and Susanne Andrews who were married in Canterbury, Kent in the year 1668. The name is also spelt SWINNART, SWINNARTON and SWINEHART.
In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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