- This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor or unrecorded place, perhaps a "lost" village. There are an estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from Britain since the 12th Century; 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 15th Century, and natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. The original place is believed to have been in Devon, with the component elements being the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Sweta" or "swete", sweet, pleasant, and "land", land, estate; hence, "Sweta's estate", or "sweet land". In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Sweetland, Sweedland, Swetland, Swedeland, Sweatland, Switland and Swatland. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the marriage of Elizabeth Swatland and Nicholas Were on September 7th 1659, at Halberton, Devonshire; the christening of Ambrose, son of Jone Swetland, at Upottery, Devonshire, on January 18th 1560; and the marriage of Elizabeth Swatland and John Denver on February 19th 1741, at Frant, Sussex. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Switland, which was dated January 4th 1539, witness at the christening of his daughter, Tamsin, at Stoke Gabriel, Devonshire, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Good King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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.
Surnames reference. 2013.
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