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Swire Coat of Arms / Swire Family Crest

Swire Coat of Arms / Swire Family Crest

This surname SWIRE was a status name for a man belonging to the social rank immediately below that of a knight, originally derived from the Old French word French 'escuyer' and was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. At first it denoted a young man of good birth attendant on a knight, or by extension any attendant or servant, but by the 14th century the meaning had been generalized, and referred to social status rather than age. By the 17th century the term denoted any member of the landed gentry, but this is unlikely to have influence the development of the surname. Early records of the name mention Alword se Scuir who was recorded in the year 1100 in the County of Devon. William Le Scuer was documented in County Suffolk in the year 1180 and John le Squier, was recorded County Cambridge in 1273. Adam Squire of County Somerset, was recorded during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Agnes Squier was of Yorkshire listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. An eminent member of the name was Sir John Collings Squire (1884-1958). He was the English author, born in Plymouth. He wrote light vert and short stories, including 'Tricks of the Trade' written in 1917. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.

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Last Updated: April 12th, 2023

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