Recorded in a variety of spellings as shown below, this is a surname of Anglo-Saxon origins . It is a nickname and an example from the large group of European surnames that were created during early medieval times from habitually used descriptive forms. In this instance the name derives from the pre 7th century word 'swete', meaning sweet or agreeable, with the suffix of 'man'. In this context it means friend, servant or simply associate of Swete. Whether the surname actually meant what it said, or whether given the robust and Chaucerian humour of the period it meant the complete opposite, is arguable. The surname development has included examples of recordings such as Robert Sweteman of Suffolk in 1222, and much later Thomas Swatman also of Suffolk, in the Hearth Tax register of 1524. The modern surname can be found in several spellings including: Sweetman, Sweatman, Swetman, and, especially in East Anglia, Swatman. Church register examples include William Sweatman, the son of Richard Sweatman, who was christened at St. Giles Cripplegate, in the city of London, on August 8th 1602, and Charles Swetman, a witness at St James Clerkenwell on July 11th 1691. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Eche Suetman. This was dated 1134, in the "records of the abbey of St. Benet Holme, Norfolk, during the reign of King Stephen, 1135 - 1154. 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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