Swindell Surname Variants and Deviants

The Guild of One-name Studies defines a variant as a name spelling which varies from the primary name spelling (or another variant spelling) used by that person's ancestors and which is:

A deviant is any other spelling recorded, including cases where the spelling occurs in official records, but only randomly and inconsistently. Deviants will also include spellings derived from enumeration, transcription and indexing errors, both contemporary and modern.

In general terms, by the 18th century the normal spelling was SWINDELL in Derbyshire, SWINDELLS in Cheshire and Lancashire, SWINDLE in the northern counties of Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmorland. SWINDALE and SWINDALL were the most common Lincolnshire variants and SWINDAIL and SWINDALL  in Staffordshire.

16th century writing often used a 'y' in place of an 'i', giving SWYNDLE, SWYNDELL, SWYNDALE etc. but the 'y' spelling disappeared after the mid-17th century.

I treat Swinden, Swinney, Swindler, Swindley as distinctly different surnames from Swindell though there is a possibility that on occasion they have been deviants from Swindell that established themselves as hereditary surnames and thus became variants. Swondel, Swendel, Swandel (and -dell and -dall) are more often deviants (i.e. spelling errors or transcription errors) though again they may have established themselves as hereditary surnames.



This spelling is the normal variant in Derbyshire and Leicestershire.


This spelling is the normal variant in Lancashire (south of the Sands).


This spelling is most common in 19th century Staffordshire.

The family of Matthew Swindell of Hartington in Derbyshire, on the Derbyshire / Staffordshire border moved to Stoke-on-Trent in the 1870s and by 1910 were generally referred to as Swindails.

Thomas Swindell - surname SWINDELL until 1905 when the spelling SWINDAIL is used - except buried as SWINDELL.
John Swindell - surname SWINDELL in the 1891 census but SWINDAIL in the 1901 census. Daughter Ether birth registered 1892 as SWINDELL. Burial (1910) registered as SWINDAIL.


A deviant spelling Swindiale occurred in Leicestershire in 1571.

At the beginning of the 20th century George Higton Swindail had three children Frederick, Violet and George who were all entered in the birth register as Swindial. Frederick died as a child but George's death registration was as Swindial and so was Violet's marriage registration. The only other known Swindial was William Matthew, cousin to Frederick, Violet and George,  whose birth was registered as Swindial in 1887 in Crewe.

I can only assume that George Higton Swindail's accent was similar to modern Australian 'strine' as far as his name was concerned.


Joseph Swindle of West Allendale was baptised Joseph SWINDLE in 1821 but in 1840 at his marriage he signed his name as SWINDALE. In 1844 his name was entered by the vicar or parish clerk as SWINDLE in the Carrshield registers at the baptism of his third daughter (CoE) as was his son in 1846 at the Methodist Chapel at Limestone Brae. The birth of his son at Castleside was registered as SWINDALE. ?Other birth registrations?

The Reverend Thomas Swindale of Parkham, Devon, originated from Glossop, Derbyshire around 1740 and was probably the son of Thomas Swindale of Hayfield. All references in the Parkham church records are to Swindale and this spelling was used by all his descendants (who were in the south-west and moved to the home counties / Suffolk).


This is the normal spelling in northern England (Northumberland, County Durham, Westmorland, Cumberland and 'Lancashire north of the Sands').The family can be traced back to the area around Hexham in Northumberland in the 17th century. At that time the spelling in the parish registers was commonly Swindle, Swindel or Swindall. All the Swindles in northern England in the 17th and 18th appear to descend from Richard Swindel and John Swindel. The occurrence of the name in Northumberland may well have resulted from migration from Derbyshire. More..

The descendants of John Swindle who migrated from Northumberland to Ontario, Canada around 1835 were being called Swindel and Swindell by 1880.

Thomas Swindle (1868-1936) used the spelling Swindle until 1901 but from 1902 used Swindale for the birth registration of his last five children and for the 1911 census. His death registration was in the name Swindle but in general his children adopted the spelling Swindale, even those registered and baptised Swindle. His son Mason, however, used the spelling Swindle for the birth registrations of his first three children but Swindale for the latter three.


In the United Kingdom every case of the spelling Swindelle that I have found is a mis-transcription of Swindells. In the Unites States of America a search on Ancestry lists 508 examples of this spelling; one case I have investigated is a positive change between 1920 and 1930 and has thereafter been inherited.


In his book "Surnames and Genealogy: A New Approach" George Redmonds writes

There were several predictable devolopments in those surnames which contained the letter 'l'. As a final consonant it was often vocalized [? ie not sounded??] ... The following examples show how various clerks dealt with the problem as far as spelling was concerned

1565    John Bonnell alias Bunnye, Rosedale
1595    William Wrathall/Wrathowe, Thorpe
1597    William Angell alias Angeer, Terrington
1616    James Bashall alias Bashau, Waddington
1749    James Wignall otherwise Wigney, Norland

and later

 "The omission of the final 'll'  ... represents a characteristic local pronunciation, one common to many parts of the country"

and again (referring to the name Wolfenden

 "the suffix '-den' was replaced by '-dall' (i.e. '-dale). This was a frequent substitution in Yorkshire, partly because final 'l' and final 'n' often interchanged - the sounds are closely related - partly because the two suffixes share a common meaning."

Thus Swindell could become Swindley (and then Swinney) or Swinden/Swindon/Swindin.


In County Durham in the 18th century the deviation from Swindle to Swinney or Swiney becomes almost common in the the Chester le Street district and in the Ryton registers we find George Swindell, George Swindle, George Swiney, George Swiney and George Swinney alias Swindle all referring to almost certainly the same individual. The son of John Swindle is baptised in 1765 as Edward Swindon. Edward is recorded as Swinney in the marriage register at Heworth but his four children are baptised as Swindle at Chester le Street.The eldest uses the Swinney form throughout his life and established it as a deviant form passed down to his desendants.

I have not found any cases of the reverse deviation of Swinney to Swindle.

In the 19th century there was large scale immigration to Gateshead from Ireland bringing many Sweeneys and then an interchange between the north-eastern Swinney and the incomer Sweeney.


The birth of a Mary Ann Swindhill was registered in the fourth quarter of 1851 in the Sheffield district (FreeBMD 22 682).
The birth of a  Frederick Brammall Swindhill was registered in the second quarter of 1854 in the Sheffield district (FreeBMD 9c 315).
These are the only Swindhill births in the whole of FreeBMD.

The marriage of Sarah Swindhill was registered in the fourth quarter of 1860 in the Sheffield district (FreeBMD 9c 346). The marriages of George Sheldon and Jessop Westall are listed on the same page.

No Swindhill deaths are listed in FreeBMD.

Joiner marriage index reports one Swindhill marriage countrywide - in West Riding of Yorkshire
No matches in Family Search.

The marriage registers of Wath upon Dearne, Yorkshire:-
Marriage by licence
John Swindhill & Henrietta Butcher of Wath married 31 March 1766

 Google reports one current reference to William Clive Swindhill. Amtex Fibres. No e-mail.
7 South Lane, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, HD9 1HN. More commonlyknown as William Clive Swindell.


Swinhoe is an established north-eastern surname and there have been a few deviations from Swindle to Swinhoe or Swinoe

Swinden, Swindon, Swindin

Any searches using the term Swind* will return a number of Swinden, Swindin, Swindon which is a distinctly different surname. However transcription of Swindell frequently reads the double 'l' as two minims and hence 'n' (and vice-versa).  This does not explain all the ambiguity between Swindell and Swinden - though I have not the time to inspect all the original records.

There are suggestions of a link between Swinden and Swindale / Swindell in Lincolnshire - both surnames are associated with Epworth and Legbourne. See Joseph Swindale (born cc1725).

In Nottinghamshire in Greasley a Swindall family is named Swinden on three occasions (1696 - 1728). In Nottingham at the baptism of his second child in 1749 Daniel Swindale (etc) is named Daniel Swindon.

James Swindin is named James Swindale at his marriage in 1822 in Clayworth, Nottingham.

There are suggestions of a link between Swinden and Swindale / Swindell in Lincolnshire - both surnames are associated with Epworth and Legbourne. See Joseph Swindale (born cc1725).

In Nottinghamshire in Greasley a Swindall family is named Swinden on three occasions (1696 - 1728). In Nottingham at the baptism of his second child in 1749 Daniel Swindale (etc) is named Daniel Swindon.

In County Durham there are just two cases of the use of Swindon in place of Swindle.


One name study by Jon Swindley http://www.swindley.co.uk swindley@one-name.org

"The earliest Swindley I have traced and positively linked my Family to is one James Swindley who was born in Coddington just outside Chester about 1727"

Family Search has Ann, d.o. John Swindley baptised 1675 in Waverton, Cheshire

Swandell, Swendell, Swondell etc

The change of vowel sound from Swindell to Swendell is easy to understand, as is a transcription error - though this is more likely from Swendell to Swindell or Swindill.

A review of the register of English and Welsh births, 1837 to the 1960s, as transcribed by FreeBMD (8th October 2014) gave the following results

Swan- -del -dell -dal -dall -dle
Swan- 0 1 (1860) 1 (1866) 0 8 (1888-1918
Swen- 1 (1844) 20 (1856-1968) 0 9 (1837-1883) 1 (1878)
Swon- 0 0 0 0 0

Thus only the Swendell/Swendall surname appears to have established itself in England.

A similar review of all events on Family Search (including census) gives

Swan- -del -dell -dal -dall -dle
Swan- 103 139 327 34 241
Swen- 141 800 425 219 137
Swon- 2 13 0 4 3

These results will include numerous duplicate individuals. The vast majority of the Family Search results are from the United States.

There were 7 Swandall s in 16th century Harbrough, Lincolnshire.


A Clara Anna Sybilla Schwindahl, daughter of Herman Schwindahl and Catharina was baptised on the 31st of December 1704 at the Evangelisch, Herdecke, Westfalen, Preussen, Germany,
the daughter of a Heinrich Zu Schwindahl was buried in October 1728 in Germany,
and there are others.

Not the Swindell name

In researching the Swindell name a small group of other names is regularly encountered when using an alphabetical search - Swindler, Swindin/Swinden/Swindon, Swingle, Swingler, Swindlehurst, Swinglehurst.

Swindlehurst, Swinglehurst

Genetics has also confirmed that the surnames Swindlehurst and Swinglehurst have a common origin from a tiny place called Swinglehurst (`the wood on the hill used for feeding swine') on the edge of the Forest of Bowland. Adam de Swynleyhurst was recorded there in the late twelfth century. The names became interchangeable when they spread across the Yorkshire border into Lancashire, but Swindlehurst was already the preferred spelling by the fifteenth century. The 1881 census listed 605 Swindlehursts, mostly in Lancashire (455) and neighbouring parts of Westmorland (50) and the West Riding (47), with the highest numbers in Preston (117) and Blackburn (96). All the 62 Swinglehursts also lived in the northern half of England, with 32 in Lancashire. DNA tests show that most men with either spelling of the name are related and belong to a haplogroup that is rare in Britain.

p186 of "Surnames, DNA, & Family History" George Redmonds, Turi King, David Hey. Oxford University Press 2011 ISBN 978-0-19-958264-8


A Henry Swindler used the spelling Swinler or Swingler in New Jersey up to 1765. His father is stated to have been born in England and died 25th of January 1724 in Middletown, Monmouth, New Jersey aged 25.


An occupational surname that Basil Cottle, in the Penguin Dictionary of Surnames, suggests as the origin of Swindell:-

"Swindell(s), Swindler may be modern jests misrepresenting swingle(s), Swingler."
"Swingler O(ccupational) 'one who uses a scourge/rod/swingle (for beating flax)'.

I am suprised that swingling was a sufficiently distinct occupation at the time of surname formation (14th century) to cause someone to be distinguished as (eg) 'John the Swingler'. 16th century records provide many examples of Swyndle etc but I have not yet found Swingle or Swingler that early. The Swingler surname is relatively common in the Leicestershire area in the 17th century (65 baptisms in Family Search).

In Beckenham, Kent around 1720 there was obviously confusion between Swingal and Swindal.